When: Wednesday, February 4, 2004, 7 p.m. CST
Site: Kohl Center (17,142), Madison, Wis.
Broadcasts: ESPN Plus, Wisconsin Radio Network
Series Notes: Minnesota leads all time series 96-80. Wisconsin has won the last five.
A week after its last game, No. 14 Wisconsin is back in action this week with a pair of contests versus two of the cellar dwellers in the Big Ten.
Players like junior guard Clayton Hanson, junior forward Zach Morley and sophomore forward Ray Nixon have picked up the slack with injuries to sophomore forward Alando Tucker and senior guard Freddie Owens, who remains questionable for tonight's game.
"They've done the job and are working hard to do even better, because we are going to have to be better to be successful the rest of the year," UW head coach Bo Ryan said.
In their first game this week, the Badgers will play Minnesota for the 177th time, the most extensive rivalry in college basketball.
Struggling in Big Ten play, the Golden Gophers are looking for any sort of spark to help them get that first win in the conference season.
Losing two of its last three in overtime, Minnesota has shown improvement recently, primarily on the defensive side of the ball, but inconsistencies on offense have plagued the team late in games.
Minnesota will play without junior guard Maurice Hargrow, who opted to transfer in late January. He averaged 11.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists and will likely be missed as the Gophers take on Wisconsin in the hostile Kohl Center, where the Badgers have won 24 straight. Minnesota does have the Big Ten's leading scorer in freshman forward Kris Humphries, who averages 22.2 points per game, a reminder that the team is dangerous and hungry for its first conference win.
"They've got Humphries inside, who can cause a lot of match up problems, so they are by no means a team to overlook, with what they bring to the table," Hanson said.
"Minnesota is a good team," Ryan said. "They are a few possessions away from having three or four wins in the league. They are working extremely hard. They are a good team."
Although these two players will not be guarding each other, the key matchup to watch is Harris versus the Minnesota defense and the Gophers' Humphries versus the Badgers' "D". The only two players from the Big Ten on the midseason Wooden Award list, Harris and Humphries both have the capabilities to dominate a game.