During his six-plus years as head coach of the Wisconsin basketball team, Bo Ryan has turned the Kohl Center into something of a personal win factory.
Ryan?s success has been well-documented, but the numbers warrant mentioning.
The Badgers have played 109 games in Madison under Ryan, and the home fans have left happy 103 of those times. That translates to an unbelievable 94.5 winning percentage, second best in Division I during that same period (by just one hundredth of a point) to Southern Illinois.
Ryan?s success against the Big Ten is no less impressive. Illinois is the only team to beat Wisconsin on the Badgers? home court, having notched the only two defeats of UW in 52 games.
Those credentials ? as well as a six-game home-court winning streak against the Hoosiers ? will be on the line tonight, when No. 13 Wisconsin welcomes No. 11 Indiana to the Kohl Center at 8 p.m.
?We have to do what we?ve been doing all year, and just trying to make the looks tough, and try not to let people get comfortable in certain areas,? Ryan said.
It will be paramount for the Badgers to slow down Indiana freshman phenom Eric Gordon, who enters the game as the conference?s leading scorer averaging nearly 22 points per contest. Wisconsin ? and all of the Big Ten, for that matter ? is a victim of circumstance. Were it not for the recent change to the NBA?s rules requiring potential draftees to be out of high school at least one year before being eligible for selection, Gordon would have gone straight to the professional ranks.
?He?s a guy that would have been playing with a stipend the first of the month if it wasn?t for the rule change,? Ryan said. ?I mean, a little more than a stipend. He?s going to make a lot of money because he?s that good, and he?s worked hard at it.?
For Wisconsin, which allowed Michigan freshman guard Manny Harris to score 26 points just two games ago, slowing down Gordon will be a team effort.
Big Ten All-Defensive Team honoree Michael Flowers will likely draw primary defensive responsibility for Gordon, and it will be important for him to avoid the foul trouble that has at times limited his minutes this season.
Point guard Trevon Hughes, who ranks second in the Big Ten with an average of just over two steals per game, will likely also be called on to keep Gordon in check.
?He is that kind of all-around player that comes along every once in a while,? Ryan said. ?But they have a lot of other players, too. That?s what makes it tough. You can?t just gear on one.?
That could be what makes Indiana most dangerous. Senior forward D.J. White is averaging a double-double on the season with nearly 17 points and 10 rebounds per game. Now that Penn State?s Geary Claxton is out after suffering a season-ending knee injury, Gordon and White are the Big Ten?s two active leading scorers.
At an athletic 6-foot-9, White could pose some matchup problems for Wisconsin. Marcus Landry, a 6-foot-7 forward, will likely be the first of several Badgers to guard White, but Joe Krabbenhoft (6-foot-7), Brian Butch (6-foot-11) and Greg Stiemsma (6-foot-11) could also draw time against White.
With both teams coming off losses in their last games, there will be some extra energy in the building, as neither the Badgers nor Hoosiers will want to lose two in a row.
Not that Ryan will admit to anything of the sort.
?You won?t see anything different,? Ryan said. ?It?s just a matter of execution on some shots and on both ends, and whether or not somebody gets hot, something gets, you know, people get in foul trouble, then it?ll be like any other game. You play it out and prepare for everything.?