The UW Badgers men's basketball squad hits the road in the Big Ten as they play away for both of their games this week.
Starting off conference play 0-2, the Badgers are coming off a dominating three-game homestand in which they thoroughly dismantled Iowa, Northwestern, and Penn State en route to a conference-high, five game winning streak.
The Badgers (15-4 Overall, 5-2 Big Ten) are third in the Big Ten this season and have won 11 of their last 13 conference game. They will travel to West Lafayette to take on Gene Keady's Purdue Boilermakers (14-4, 6-1) tonight at 7 p.m. (WISC-3 in Madison).
UW Coach Bo Ryan and his troops are fresh off an 86-55 romping of Penn State in which they shot a season best 60 percent from the field. Leading the way for the Badgers was senior guard Kirk Penney's 28 points, but most impressive was the all-around play of sophomore guard Devin Harris.
Harris did everything on the court against the Nittany Lions last Saturday, tallying 14 points, grabbing nine rebounds, collecting seven dimes and stealing the ball three times in the victory.
The Badgers continued to exercise their stingy defense and dictate the tempo of the game as they brushed aside their fifth straight conference foe. For the Badgers to get No. 6, they will have to do something they have not done in 20 years: win in West Lafayette, Ind.
Easier said than done.
Keady's 24th-ranked Purdue squad has been without a doubt one of the more surprising teams this year in not only the Big Ten, but the entire nation. Unbeatable at home with a 12-0 overall and 5-0 Big Ten record on their home front, the Boilermakers are also the lone bump in the road for Rick Pitino's stellar Louisville Cardinals squad.
Along with Louisville, Purdue has knocked off the likes of then No. 16 Indiana and also Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans.
Purdue is also seeking its fourth consecutive conference win and their best conference start (7-1) since 1989-90, when they began the Big Ten season 8-0. Led by the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, senior guard Willie Deane, and his 17.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, the Boilermakers are atop of the Big Ten for the first time in quite some time.
After two years of mediocrity, and no NCAA Tournament appearances, the Boilermakers are once again a team to be reckoned with in conference play.
This is the 154th meeting between the two schools as Purdue holds a 95-58 advantage all time. UW has won the last six games in this meeting including last season's 77-66 Badger victory in Madison.
THREE KEYS FOR WISCONSIN
1) Hitting the Glass- UW has a + 5.8 rebounding margin in conference play this season, while Purdue is a dismal –0.6. UW's success can and will be determined on how well they create second chance opportunities for themselves and limit the Boilermakers' chances.
2) General Harris - Devin Harris is Bo Ryan's floor general and dictates the game for UW. His incredible athleticism and abilities allow him to do so much on the court all the time, offensively and defensively. As long as he stays out of foul trouble and gets his Big Ten leading average of 2.00 steals, UW will be in good shape.
3) Scoring at both ends - UW is first in the Big Ten in scoring defense and sixth for scoring offense and the combo is a deadly one for opponents. When the Badgers hit at least 70 in a game, they are 23-1 under Coach Ryan.
THREE KEYS FOR PURDUE
1) The Deane of Lafayette- Willie Deane is the man on Purdue's team and is second in the Big Ten in scoring with 20.3 points per game. He can do it all, and has the skill to take over a game at any second.
2) Scoring Offense- The match up says it all: Wisconsin's No. 1 scoring defense vs. Purdue's No. 1 scoring offense. This will not be a game for the weak of hearts.
3) Charity Stripe- Finally, the Badgers have met an opponent who shoots a better free throw percentage than them. The Boilermakers are tops in the Big Ten with .782 free throw percentage and will need to go there early and often to knock out UW.
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