Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan understands his undefeated Badgers have a collective target on their backs. Their recent history against Indiana likely increases its size.
The third-ranked Badgers head into Assembly Hall Tuesday night looking to extend a 12-game winning streak against the Hoosiers and improve on the best start in school history.
"I know the thing about the target," Ryan said. "I understand all that. Just look around the country. It's conference time. Anything can happen. Our guys know it."
No team has ever won 13 consecutive games against Indiana, though Ryan isn't using six years of history against the Hoosiers to motivate his team.
"I didn't know the numbers, the players certainly never hear it from us," Ryan said. "I just don't dwell on that kind of domain. We just prepare for the next opponent, and we don't say - I don't try to get my guys ready to play somebody by using anything other than the facts, the stats, here it is. Here's what we've got to do. This guy likes to do this for them. This guy likes to do that. Here's what we have to do better."
It's difficult to find things the Badgers (16-0, 3-0 Big Ten) need to do much better at the moment. They've won consecutive games against ranked conference foes and have held their last four opponents to 34.4 percent shooting.
Wednesday's 95-70 home win over Illinois was the latest example of a Wisconsin team that has added a dynamic offensive dimension to its typically strong defensive play. The Badgers shot 56.1 percent and turned the ball over four times, leading Illinois coach John Groce to call them the best offensive team they've played.
Guard Ben Brust scored 18 points while Sam Dekker had 17. Frank Kaminsky and Traevon Jackson each added 15.
They've turned the ball over an average of 5.5 times in their last four games with 13.0 assists, which Indiana coach Tom Crean sees as the distinguishing factor to their offensive success.
"They have always put excellent shooters on the court," Crean said. "I think what you have now, and what is a little different to me, is that they are not an above average passing team, they are a great passing team."
Indiana (11-5, 1-2) avoided an 0-3 conference start Saturday with a 79-76 win at Penn State. The Hoosiers trailed by 15 in the first half and overcame a season-low 36.2 percent shooting.
"I'm proud of the way we responded to the adversity of the game," Crean said. "We grew up. We played with real confidence. We're going to build on it."
Freshman Noah Vonleh scored a career-high 19 points while leading scorer Yogi Ferrell added 15 on 4-of-13 shooting.
Ryan expects the young Hoosiers to continue to grow as the season progresses.
"When you see how athletic they are and you see their freshmen, their younger guys and what they can do physically, their record might not be the same as it was last year," Ryan said. "But teams get better. Their comeback against Penn State, Penn State's really tough at home. They didn't waver. They did what they had to do to come back. So that shows they've matured already."
Indiana's last win against Wisconsin came on Jan. 31, 2007, in Bloomington. It was the last time the then-No. 2 Badgers carried a top-5 ranking into a meeting with the Hoosiers while Indiana was ranked in the top 5 in each meeting last season.
The Hoosiers are 0-3 against ranked opponents this season and have lost five straight starting with a 68-56 loss to then-No. 22 Wisconsin on March 16.
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