Notes: Revenge is a Dish Ryan Doesn't Serve

This week easily could have been labeled 'revenge week' for No.16 Wisconsin, getting back at two teams that hurt the Badgers' conference title hopes with wins at the Kohl Center. But when UW travels to Iowa City Thursday and Columbus on Sunday, revenge will be the furthest thing from UW coach Bo Ryan's mind.

MADISON - In all his years as a head coach, 40 to be exact if one counts his first head coaching job at Brookhaven High School in Delaware County, Pa., Bo Ryan has never made a game about ‘revenge' or ‘getting even' after one team knocks off his team in the previous meeting.

And he's not going to start now.

"I've been around too long and I know that doesn't make you play better," said Ryan. "If you are worrying about that part of it, you are not worrying about what you need to take care of."

This week provides a unique challenge for No.16 Wisconsin (20-7, 9-5 Big Ten) to avenge two home losses in less than 72 hours on the road. While most people will be focused in on Sunday's tilt with No.8 Ohio State in Columbus, the Badgers will get a chance to face Iowa (14-13, 6-8) on Thursday night, a loss that was the first of three straight defeats that marred UW conference title hopes.

Snapping a string of nine straight losses at the Kohl Center dating back to 2000, Iowa took advantage of breaks in Wisconsin's transition defense to score 72 points (a season high against UW) and shot 49.2 percent from the field in a seven-point victory Dec.31. Worse yet, Wisconsin couldn't counter by missing 25 of its 3-point attempts (3 for 28) and shooting a season-low 10.7 percent from long range.

"That aren't too many teams that I've seen that have success when you (shoot) like that," said Ryan. "That 40 minutes was not something, shooting wise, where we pulled any highlights from the game."

The ‘rematch' won't be any easier for Wisconsin when it buses down to Iowa City. While unlikely to make any postseason tournament in coach Fran McCaffery's second season, the Hawkeyes have won three straight home games, including upsetting No.18 Indiana at home Sunday – a result that gave the Badgers a two-game cushion over the Hoosiers in the race for a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

"They're a good team. Watching them (Sunday night), as well as they played against Indiana, they are kind of like us at times," said Ryan. "If you are hitting shots, things are going your way, you can usually feed off of that. It seems like every team in the Big Ten has gone through stages. When they played us, they did a good job of taking some things away from us.

"They are a very good team then and I think they are a very good team now, just like most of the teams in the Big Ten every night."

Just like most teams in the Big Ten, senior point guard Jordan Taylor continues to be a solid contributor for Wisconsin. Although his shooting numbers are down compared to a season ago, Taylor was still named one of the Cousy Award finalists and his 16.3 points per game in conference play rank second in the league.

Thursday will be his third and final game in Iowa City in an arena where he has hit a 3-point shot in the final minute (or as a true freshman, at the buzzer) to send the games into overtime. Wisconsin didn't finish the job in 2009, but did so in 2010.

"He's a guy who really pays attention to the game," said Ryan of Taylor. "He's a guy who doesn't have real long arms, so what he has is strength. He uses his strength, literally, and he uses his mind, which is pretty sharp. He's a bright young man who keeps an even keel at practice every day.

"He's doing some different things right from the beginning to blend a new front line," said Ryan. "I think he's a kind of guy if you are going to bring along some inexperience players from when we start the season, he's the guy to do it … He embraces the moment."

Finding their Footing

While Taylor played and contributed right away, Ryan Evans needed a few years of seasoning to develop and start to pack a punch. Redshirting his freshman year and coming off the bench the last two seasons, the redshirt junior leads the Badgers with 6.9 rebounds per game and has found his shooting touch as of late, scoring in double figures the last six games.

"He's taking better shots," Ryan said. "He's getting better looks."

Evans isn't the first player to benefit from taking a year to build his body and his game. McDonalds All-American Brian Butch did so his freshman year and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection his senior year. Cedar Rapids (IA) forward Jarrod Uthoff had the opportunity to play this season, but elected to build his body in hopes of contributing next year.

Taking all things into consideration, from academics to strength to their love of the game, Ryan and his staff make a recommendation, but ultimately leave that decision up to each individual player.

"We look at the person that we are recruiting and sometimes we see maybe some things that other people don't," Ryan said. "We've had players redshirt that other people never even thought about offering a scholarship to. That either says we aren't very smart or maybe it says if you see something, go with your gut.

"Brian Butch wasn't physically ready to compete at a high level as he would have been by his fifth year, which he proved. Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren and other guys we've had redshirt, it's paid off. It's definitely paid off."

Sitting Well in the RPI

When the NCAA Tournament selection committee convenes in Indianapolis early next month and starts to look at which 37 teams are worthy of at-large selections, one of the pieces in the mountains of data the group will look at is the Rating Percentage Index, better known as the RPI, a tool used and tweaked since its inception in 1981.

While the RPI does not factor in margin of victory or statistics other than win/loss results, it is based on three factors with a certain percentage weighed to them: Twenty-five percent measures a team's winning percentage, 50 percent measures the winning percentages of a team's opponents, and the other 25 percent measures the winning percentages of a team's opponents' opponents.

The Big Ten is the strongest conference nationally in the RPI this season, with six teams — Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Northwestern —ranking in the top 50. All but Northwestern are currently considered locks for the big dance.

Wisconsin currently ranks No.22 as of Wednesday afternoon, more than sufficient to assure the Badgers of a 14th-straight NCAA Tournament berth, but Ryan has never been one to overwhelm himself with computer figures.

"It's one tool that's used and the fact that it's been around awhile means it's stood the test of time," said Ryan. "Whatever a committee has to do, it's not as easy decision to pick the final four, five, last eight spots.

"We've gone through as a conference trying to bring in people who have been on the committee to tell us exactly what it is and to what extent each factor is used. Whether it's strength of schedule or last 10 (games) or things like that. It's just a tool that a committee has to use."

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