The real head scratcher is how No.19 Wisconsin has suffered three home losses – including two in the Big Ten for the first time since the 2008-09 season – but are the only team in the Big Ten with at least six road/neutral wins on the season.
"We just try to be as consistent as we can all the time," Ryan said Monday. "Basically doing all the little things well and in order to win on the road, you have to do those things. At home every once in awhile you can get a little jolt of energy from the crowd. There are some seasons where you cannot explain one over the other, but I think consistency is one of those things."
Consistency – as Ryan put it – contains taking care of the ball and playing good defense, things the Badgers (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten) have done all season to put themselves in the thick of the Big Ten race at the conference season's unofficial midpoint.
Heading on the road to take on Penn State (10-12, 2-7) Tuesday night, Wisconsin continues to lead the nation in scoring defense – holding opponents to 49.6 points per game – and leads the nation in field goal defense (.363).
For the third year in a row, Wisconsin leads the nation in turnovers, turning the ball over just 8.91 times per game, a small jump from the Badgers' NCAA single-season record of 7.59 turnovers it had a season ago.
Those character traits have come through in the series with the Nittany Lions, as Penn State has average just 52.2 points per game over the last 15 meetings against Wisconsin.
"This team has been doing some things to give them a chance," said Ryan.
Although its results don't mimic the Badgers, Penn State and first year head coach Pat Chambers has the same philosophy of wanting to play consistent and physical as Wisconsin and Ryan. It's not a huge surprise considering Chambers, like Ryan, is from eastern Pennsylvania, played basketball in Philadelphia and is as tough and as competitive as UW's head coach.
"He knows how to motivate people and knows how to get people to play hard because Penn State is really playing hard," said Ryan of Chambers. "He's got them doing things in a system and I think that's going to pay off for them more so down the road because they have to continue to learn and play off of that."
Not only are the Nittany Lions competitive because of their ability to cover a lot of ground in their zone and their man defense, Chambers has been able to rely on junior point guard Tim Frazier. Having scored in double figured in 20 of 22 games, Frazier is averaging 17.9 points per game overall and 19 points per game in conference play, which includes a career-high 30 points at Nebraska and a conference-best 10 20-point games.
Ryan calls each player ‘an entity all to himself,' but knows that Frazier is a heck of a player.
"He's quick. He sees the floor. He finds open guys. He can get to the rim in a blink," said Ryan. "As they used to say down south, he's 'quicker than a hiccup.'"
Jumping in the Polls
The Badgers jumped six spots to No. 19 in the AP Poll and five spots to No. 20 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll on Monday from their previous spot at No. 25. The Badgers are the third-highest ranked team in the Big Ten, behind No.3 Ohio State and No. 10 Michigan State. Wisconsin hosts the Buckeyes Saturday.
Ryan on his nerves seeing Mike Bruesewitz wearing ice skates for the Big Ten Network
"Mike's comfortable anywhere. Mike would be comfortable on the ice, on the court, in one of those cages where they do that ultimate fighting. I could picture Mike in one of those. He's an all-around guy."