Wisconsin vs. Michigan State has turned out to be quite a college basketball rivalry. Why? Because the Badgers have started to win of late. Since Bo Ryan took over in Madison, the Badgers are 11-5 against the Spartans overall and 6-0 under Bo Ryan at the Kohl Center.
The two teams hook up in a Big Ten battle tonight in Madison. It’s a big game for both the Badgers and the rest of the Big Ten Conference. Tom Izzo’s Spartans are threatening to run away with the Big Ten. They’re 9-0 in conference play, 3-games better than the (6-3) second place Badgers. A win for the Badgers would at least make the Conference race a bit more interesting down the stretch, for the Badgers and other teams that would be drawn into the race.
The Badgers lost the previous match-up in East Lansing, 54-47 on January 6th. The Badgers struggled to shoot the ball in that game, hitting just 30% from 3-point range and just 33% overall. The one bright spot was junior forward Jon Leuer who scored 21 points on 9 of 19 shooting. But Leuer remains out with a broken wrist and won’t likely return to the lineup until the Big Ten Tournament.
Izzo was irked by the Badgers style of defense in the first meeting in early January. They drew several charges and Izzo said at halftime that if you breathe on the Badgers, they’ll fall over. Bo Ryan said he wasn’t aware of Izzo’s remarks, but it’s hard to find anybody that believes that.
Both Ryan and Izzo bothcall their battle a good one and say the respect for one another is mutual. Ryan said the Badgers have strong rivalries with a number of teams in the Big Ten, but at the moment, there’s no question that this one tops the list.
[Bill Scott previews tonight’s Wis. vs. Mich. State game 1:38]