February 17, 2009

Critical road trip following GameDay

MADISON, Wis. - Now that the national spotlight has rescinded from its grasp on Madison and the Wisconsin men's basketball program, the Badgers, winners of four-straight games, have the daunting task to keep the momentum strong as they head on the road this week.

Ask anyone in attendance at the Kohl Center Saturday night and they would likely tell you that the atmosphere on Valentine's Day was one of the better ones of the season. The game was tight throughout (neither team held a lead of more than five points) and featured great defense from both teams.

On the heels of Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry's big nights, the Badgers held on to claim a critical win as the Big Ten schedule starts winding down.

After reaching that high and after beating a ranked team on national television, UW now gets the opportunity to travel to Bloomington, Ind. to face the Hoosiers, a team that has won only one league game and is suffering through one of its worst seasons in school history.

"I know when we are at practice today (Monday)," UW head coach Bo Ryan said at his weekly press conference. "What happened Saturday is not a factor in our drills or anything."

Not only was coach Ryan talking about UW's most recent game, a hard-fought 55-50 win over Ohio State, but he was also referring to the whole product of the day.

For the first time, ESPN sent its GameDay crew to Madison during the basketball season and set up shop in the Kohl Center.

The bright lights that lit up Madison on a national stage could have easily been a distraction for the home team. In the morning show, Krabbenhoft, Landry and Ryan helped out with an on-court demonstration with ESPN personalities, something that is very atypical of a normal morning before a game.

Still, all the extra attention did not waver UW's focus as it was able to secure the win later that evening.

"That might be an interesting statistic," Ryan said. "How many GameDay's have they done? What happened to the team the next game? And then maybe you could get your own conclusions."

Of the five campuses the popular show has set foot on so far this season only North Carolina and Tennessee had won their particular showdowns against Miami and Florida respectively before UW knocked off the Buckeyes.

On the other end, both Notre Dame (UCONN) and Gonzaga (Memphis) were losers on their home-court when GameDay was in town. However, three of the four schools (North Carolina, Tennessee and Gonzaga) all went on to win their first road game after being in the national spotlight, something UW hopes to follow.

Only Notre Dame, losers of seven of its past nine games, went on to lose following GameDay's stop at South Bend, Ind.

"I don't know, it seems like all the games we play are pretty exciting," Ryan explained. "We usually have a lot of media in the Big 10. I remember when I was at Milwaukee, or at a Platteville, every once in a while you get in the NCAA tournament and there's a lot more attention. There were three people instead of one at the press conference.

"But at Wisconsin, we're around this all the time, so I think our players should be used to it."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!