MADISON, Wis. - Coming off a 58-52 loss to No. 3 Ohio State, the No. 21 Badgers (18-6, 7-4 Big Ten) will go across the border to pick up where they left off with Big Ten rival Minnesota (17-7, 5-6). The two teams have a storied football rivalry, which sees them compete annually for Paul Bunyan's Axe, but according to Badgers head coach Bo Ryan, the rivalries in the two sports don't really compare.
"We play 18 games in the Big Ten, and we have a Big Ten tournament," Ryan said. "So in no way is there any one game in the basketball season that's comparable to a conference football game. It just can't happen that way.
"You've got to get ready to play 18 plus (games), so no it's a little different. Sometimes you might be playing in Minnesota and you have three games in seven days. So how could that be comparable to a sport that plays once a week on the weekend?"
So while the sheer number of games played in the basketball season might diminish the rivalry's effect, getting another Big Ten road win would definitely help the Badgers in the long run.
The Badgers are currently 7-2 away from the Kohl Center this season, including five wins in "true" road environments. To add another to that win column, they'll have to get past a surprising Gophers team. Minnesota is missing star forward Trevor Mbakwe due to an ACL injury, but the Gophers have found younger players to replace his production.
"They've got some good players," Ryan said. "They've got some guys who aren't trying to do too much ... defensively they can get after you because of how athletic they are, and they've got some depth worked into their lineup. It hasn't surprised any of us that they're doing well."
The Week Ahead
The Badgers have just one game on tap for the week, where they'll take on Minnesota at Williams Arena on Thursday night. The game is at 6 p.m. CS, and is scheduled to air on ESPN.
In the Polls
With a 1-1 record on the week, the Badgers fell to No. 21 in the AP poll and No. 22 in the USA Today/Coaches' poll. That's down just two spots from last week in both polls, which is understandable given they lost to No. 3 Ohio State at the Kohl Center on Saturday.
In the Standings
With the loss on Saturday, the Badgers fell into a third-place tie with No. 25 Michigan. They'll have a chance to move up soon, as they play the No. 12 Michigan State Spartans on the road next Thursday in the Breslin Center.
The Wisconsin-Minnesota basketball series is relatively even compared to the Badgers' records against some of the Big Ten's long-time conference powers. The Gophers lead the overall series 100-89, with the Badgers winning last season's lone matchup 68-60 in Madison.
"Every day we come to practice, I always check the eyes of my players. Every day. If you ever watch a practice, I will check the eyes of every player every day, and facial expressions, and demeanor when they walk on the court. Jordan has never changed. He comes with that look, like ‘Alright, what are we going to get done today?' I haven't seen anything different in him." - Ryan on Jordan Taylor's attitude this season.