MADISON - The Wisconsin Badgers get most of the credit as the Big Ten's unique team, thanks to their emphasis on defense and the swing offense. They like to limit the number of possessions in a game, and squeeze their opponents out of the shots they usually get against the rest of the conference.
But the Badgers will get a little taste of their own medicine on Wednesday night when they travel down to Evanston, Ill., to take on Northwestern. The Wildcats are 10th in the Big Ten right now with a 4-9 record in conference play, but they still force opposing teams to prepare for their own quirks and schemes. The Wildcats run the Princeton offense and use a 1-3-1 zone defense, giving them a different feel from most other Big Ten teams.
And even though the Badgers haven't seen much of the pass-happy Princeton offense this season, Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said his team should be well prepared for their matchup with the Wildcats in Welsh-Ryan Arena.
"There's no one that knows that offense better than [assistant coach] Greg Gard," Ryan said in his Monday press conference. "He was with me at Platteville, he was with me at Milwaukee, and obviously here. Any teams that ran any of that stuff he's the one who put it in the scout team. I'm sure today and tomorrow they'll be running some good stuff."
The Princeton offense, much like Ryan's swing, wants to slow the game down and create offensive mismatches. It's a finesse offense that the Badgers only have two games to prepare for, but Ryan said he is confident that his scout team will get the starters up to speed fairly quickly.
"We'll get a pretty good look for the regulars defensively," Ryan said. "They have their rules and reads and offensively they do them at a little quicker pace, because they know exactly what the next move is. So yeah, they are hard to prepare for that way. But we'll just get them ready."
In the Rankings
-- The Badgers moved up to No. 19 in the Associated Press' weekly poll from No. 20 last week. That puts the Badgers fifth of the five ranked teams in the Big Ten. No. 1 Indiana, No. 4 Michigan State, No. 7 Michigan, and No. 18 Ohio State are all ranked ahead of the Badgers.
-- The Badgers also moved up in USA Today's Coaches' Poll. The Badgers are now No. 17, which is up two spots from their No. 19 ranking last week. The Badgers jumped Ohio State after beating them on Sunday, but are still behind Indiana, Michigan State, and Michigan.
The week ahead
-- The Badgers have just one game this week. They'll head down to Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. game with Northwestern. That game is scheduled to air on the Big Ten Network. It's their only game with the Wildcats this season, after beating them 77-57 last season at the Kohl Center. The Badgers have won their last six games against the Wildcats, and haven't lost to them since 2009, when they fell 66-63 in Evanston.
-- If the season ended today, the Badgers would earn the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament thanks to their head-to-head tiebreaker with the Michigan Wolverines. The Badgers would then earn a bye for the first day of the tournament, and would face the winner of the No. 6 vs. No. 11 game on Friday evening. Right now, those two teams would be Illinois or Iowa and Nebraska.
-- ESPN's Joe Lunardi has the Badgers as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and has them slated to play No. 12 seed Middle Tennessee. Lunardi also has the Badgers in the South part of the bracket, and has the Badgers playing in the Austin regional for their first two games.
-- CBS Sports' Jerry Palm has the Badgers as a No. 6 seed in his NCAA Tournament prediction, and has the Badgers playing No. 11-seeded Temple in Kansas City.
Ryan on Ben Brust's effort this season:
"Guys with a little chip on their should figure they have something to prove. You're always told that you weren't very handsome; some guys would start to not go to very man places, wear disguises if they weren't handsome, and hide. But Ben, a lot of people didn't think he'd play in college. In life that's not bad all the time to have that edge. He's got that edge, along with the shaved head."
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