No Shock Value

MSU point guard Kalin Lucas

Idle over the weekend, No.20 Wisconsin had plenty of time to sit down and view the college basketball landscape. While the results from State College - a 66-62 Penn State victory over UW's Tuesday opponent Michigan State - may have surprised some, it barely raised an eyebrow from UW Coach Bo Ryan.

MADISON – Few things shock Bo Ryan anymore, especially when it comes to results in the Big Ten.

So when asked what his level of surprise was when unranked Penn State knocked off No.18 Michigan State with a four-point victory Saturday, Ryan had no level of shock.

"That was a good team beating another good team," Ryan said.

So don't expect any shock if No.20 Wisconsin wins at Michigan State for the first time since 2004 when then two teams met on Tuesday. Penn State has knocked off Michigan State three times in the last four seasons, success that the Badgers (12-3, 2-1 Big Ten) have enjoyed, as well.

Wisconsin is 12-5 against Michigan State (10-5, 2-1) since Ryan took over in 2001, and have gone 27-19 (.587) in true road games over the last five seasons, a mark that ranks as the seventh-highest win percentage among BCS conference teams.

"I've always said about playing in the Big Ten that you are going to play in front of packed houses for the most part," Ryan said. "Michigan State is no different. The students are in the bottom bowl area … and it's always loud, (but) the other places are loud. It's the Big Ten, and I think our guys end up choosing Wisconsin or other schools in the Big Ten because they know the league is going to lead the nation in attendance every year.

"When you are in this thing, that's kind of neat. I know our players enjoy going to places and being in those kinds of environments like they enjoy playing in our environment."

One of Michigan State's early season issues has been turnovers. Entering Saturday's game, the Spartans averaged 15.1 per contest and their opponents were averaging 15.5 points per game off turnovers. In the loss to the Nittany Lions, 11 Michigan State turnovers turned into 13 Penn State points.

The Badgers on the other hand lead the nation in fewest turnovers at 8.1 per game, and are averaging 4.3 turnovers through three Big Ten games. When the Badgers beat Michigan State in Feb.08, Wisconsin set a school record with only one turnover.

No doubt Associate Head Coach Greg Gard will emphasize that on the scouting report. Handling the Spartans scouting report since he arrived with Ryan in 2001, Gard was publically praised by Ryan after the Badgers whipped No.5 Michigan State, 67-49, last February at the Kohl Center.

"He's knows a lot of other teams the same way," Ryan said. "Every film is looked at a minimum two times, some cases more, but knowing somebody … and being able to decimate that information with the players and get them to understand how we can maybe counter some things, that's the difference. Our coaches do a good job with that and Greg especially because he's been around the longest."

Be My Valentyn

Having paid his dues as a junior high and high school coach, Ryan knows the importance of players playing basketball just to play, without the scholarships or notoriety that comes with the territory.

"We always tell walk-ons that it might never happen that you get 30 seconds on the court," Ryan said. "We never get somebody unrealistic expectations to go home with every night. What we say is simply take a look at the past guys in our programs. I am thinking if there is a walk-on that wants to get appreciated and all that, why not here?"

Walk-on Brett Valentyn knows it, too, which is why the fifth-year senior from nearby Verona has worked hard enough to put himself in position to contribute. Playing in 10 games this season and averaging 5.5 minutes per game, Valentyn is shooting 5 of 15 from the field with all the shots coming from three-point range. Valenytn, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, got his most extensive work of his career Wednesday, scoring four points in 11 minutes of action.

"I don't think what Brett has done has been anything what other guys have done, which is work ethic," Ryan said. "He has shown his shot is better, he's better on defense and if you can do those things, you have a chance to be on the floor."

Rank'em

After having the weekend off following its 16-point win over Michigan, Wisconsin is ranked No.20 in the AP Poll – the first time UW has been ranked by the writers this season – and No.21 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Michigan State is ranked No. 24 in the coaches poll, but is unranked in the AP poll.

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