Fresh off two straight difficult losses at the hands of Michigan
State and Indiana, the Michigan basketball team won’t get a
break from the schedule makers.
The Wolverines (1-2 Big Ten, 10-4 overall) will be forced to try
and end their two-game losing streak in Madison against No. 21
Wisconsin (2-1, 11-3), the two-time defending Big Ten
But despite the fact that a 1-3 conference start stares the
Wolverines in the face, forward Bernard Robinson rejected the
notion that his team needed a confidence boost.
“Confidence is still high, don’t start doubting
us,” Robinson said. “We just lost two straight games,
so everybody, don’t start doubting us. Our confidence was
there when we were 0-6 (last season), and we won 13 (straight). Our
confidence isn’t going anywhere when we lose two straight
Perhaps the principal reason for the Wolverines to exude
confidence is the fact that the Big Ten appears to be as wide open
as it has been in years, with all 11 teams having already suffered
at least one conference defeat.
It’s a fact that Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan took notice of
after Indiana recovered from a blowout loss to the Badgers and won
in Ann Arbor just five days later.
“You can be an Indiana and have a rough game here and go
to Michigan and win,” Ryan said. “You can be Michigan
and lose at home to Indiana and go other places and get it done.
That’s just the nature of the league and league
While Ryan is well aware of how dangerous a road team in need of
a victory can be, the numbers show that trying to come out of
Wisconsin with a victory is a difficult task.
Michigan has lost its last three games at Wisconsin, including a
73-42 drubbing last season. The Wolverines aren’t the only
ones that have found it rough going in the Kohl Center, either.
Wisconsin has won 22 straight home games, thanks in part to a 9-0
home start this year. And the Badgers have never lost a Big Ten
game at home under Ryan, posting an impressive 18-0 mark.
Holding serve at home is something the Wolverines weren’t
able to do against the Hoosiers two weeks ago, and because of that,
stealing a win away from home has become an imperative mission.
“It definitely has,” Robinson said.
“We’ve talked about that as a team — we’ve
got to get out here and get some victories, one way or
In order to put itself in position to upset the Badgers,
Michigan will have to improve on the offensive end.
The Wolverines did not crack 60 points in either of their losses
to Indiana and Michigan State. Wisconsin, meanwhile, enters
tonight’s game with the Big Ten’s best defense,
allowing just 55.4 points per game.
Ryan, though, refuses to look too far into Michigan’s
recent struggles to put the ball in the basket.
“They’re talented, they’re long, they’re
quick,” Ryan said. “(Daniel) Horton is still one of the
best point guards around, and (Dion) Harris . . . boy can he shoot
“Believe me, every time we play somebody, our players
think this is the greatest team that has ever played, based on what
we show them, because we show them their strengths.”
The two teams split last year’s series, with the
Wolverines rallying from 15 points down in the final five minutes
to win 66-65 at home in early January.
Tonight’s game tips off at 9 p.m., and will air on
Owens out: Wisconsin senior guard Freddie Owens will miss
tonight’s game against the Wolverines due to a left foot
The senior suffered the injury in practice on Saturday. His
status beyond tonight is still up in the air.
Owens has started all 14 games for the Badgers so far this
season and has averaged 8.6 points in 29 minutes per game.
Wisconsin junior Zach Morley will start in the backcourt in
Owens’ place. It will be his first start of the season. He
has scored nine points per game off the bench for the Badgers on
49-percent shooting from the floor so far this year.