MADISON - The University of Wisconsin is in the top-5 of the Associated Press poll for the first time since 2007. But to Bo Ryan that ranking means very little.
“This team's attention will be on the clips from Saturday and the UWM scouting report,” the UW coach said of the Badgers game with Milwaukee on Wednesday. “That's all we'll talk about.”
Ryan understands that it will be hard for his players not to hear about the ranking from their fellow students. And his hope is they remember how they got to 10-0.
“You have to deal with that,” Ryan said of the success. “Everybody's going to come at us the same way. Everybody's going to want to, even more so, try to get a piece of the Badgers. There's a lot of sports on campus that have been in that position.”
But it’s Ryan’s team right now. The last time they were ranked this high in the AP poll was the week of March 5-11 in 2007 when they came in at No. 3. That was also the season they made it to No. 1 – a status they held for a week due to loses to Michigan State and Ohio State.
“I still have -- somebody gave me a copy of that We're No. 1 (graphic in the newspaper),” Ryan said. “That lasted a long time, seven days.”
More recently the Badgers have been on the other end of the upset. They took out No. 1 Ohio State in 2012 and then went to Indiana and won last season when the Hoosiers were No. 2.
“You know, they've knocked off in years past teams that were highly ranked. So they know highly ranked teams are just as vulnerable as anybody else,” Ryan said of his players. “It's the way of sports to try to rank people and rate people.
“But they understand it's 40 minutes of basketball Wednesday night, or at least that's how we'll approach it."
While Wisconsin is relatively young – they have only one senior that plays significant minutes – they do have experience and that’s one reason Ryan isn’t worried about the ranking’s impact on the team.
“I think, because of the leadership we have, I think the right things are being said in the locker room and the right directions being given out on the court with the players, with the upperclassmen,” Ryan said. “Even though it's not a real old group at all. There's guys that have been around.”