Bo Ryan Doesn't Buy Into Rivalry Games
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Don't tell Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan that playing neighboring Iowa is a rivalry game.
He doesn't believe in rivalries.
"I don't think of them as a rival," Ryan said Monday of the Hawkeyes. "They're all rivals. They're the next game."
No. 8 Wisconsin (18-3, 8-1 Big Ten) crushed Iowa at home 64-51 on Jan. 5. A win in Wednesday's rematch could put Wisconsin in a position to be alone atop the Big Ten. Wisconsin and Purdue are currently tied for the conference lead. Wisconsin's sole Big Ten loss was to Purdue just nine days ago, and the rematch is Saturday.
But first, there's Iowa (11-12, 4-6).
Ryan said he's never bought into the rivalry strategy as a way to get his team fired up for a big game.
"I just never did the rivalry thing to my team, to have them think that one game is different from another," Ryan said at his weekly news conference. "I don't do that. Now if players do, they hide it."
The danger for a basketball team is getting too high or too low for any one matchup in a long season, Ryan said. Playing up rivalries works well in college football, where teams only meet once during the season, he said.
"And they got these pigs in a blanket and other things they give out, the tomahawks, that's great," Ryan said. "I think that is really good stuff."
Tomahawks? That goes to the winner of the Northwestern-Illinois football game each year.
The pig trophy, called the Floyd of Rosedale, goes to the victor of the Iowa-Minnesota game. But it's not in a blanket.
There's also a trophy tied to the Wisconsin-Iowa football game. Called the Heartland Trophy, it's the statue of a bull.
There's plenty of history between Iowa and Wisconsin on the hard court.
This will be the 149th time they've played, with Iowa leading the lifetime series 75-73. Wisconsin has won nine of the last 10.
Ryan certainly didn't provide any bulletin board material when asked to assess Iowa.
"They've got a fine team. What's a fine team? A team that can shoot it. Strength with the ball," Ryan said. "They're a good team that's picked up what they're supposed to be doing and making it very difficult for the other team."
Iowa's been coming on strong lately, beating Ohio State on Saturday. The win snapped the Buckeyes' three-game winning streak and avenged a 31-point loss from Jan. 9. Iowa, picked to finish ninth in the Big Ten, has won four of its last seven.
The Badgers are coming off a pair of Big Ten wins last week over then-No. 11 Indiana and Minnesota. The team moved up five spots in the weekly Associated Press poll from No. 13 to No. 8.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)