Wisconsin hoops earns 1st-ever No. 1 ranking

first_imgA season already packed with laurels and team records reached an ultimate high Tuesday.For the first time in program history, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team is ranked No. 1. The Associated Press had the Badgers atop its weekly poll released Monday, 19 points ahead of Big Ten rival Ohio State. Rounding out the top five were Florida, UCLA and North Carolina.Upon hearing the historic news via a phone call prior to Monday’s press conference, UW head coach Bo Ryan said he took a No. 1 red foam hand from his closet, a New Year’s Eve party favor, and some newspaper and went to town.”I tore up some newspaper and threw that in the air, blew the [party favor], and ran around with the No. 1 sign,” Ryan joked. Wisconsin’s cause for celebration arose after previously No. 1 Florida lost 83-70 to Vanderbilt Saturday. The Badgers, who own the best record in the NCAA at 26-2 overall, then passed up the Buckeyes’ in the rankings to capture the top spot in the AP poll, receiving 35 first-place votes to Ohio State’s 31. UW received 1,747 total points compared to OSU’s 1,728.Ryan, UW’s head coach of six years, is pleased with his team’s success and believes the top ranking is well deserved. “I’m proud of the players, what they’ve done, (and) the perseverance they’ve shown this year,” Ryan said. “And you don’t get that ranking without having done something, … but for them, it’s a heck of a statement. And for anybody that’s ever played here since they started keeping those rankings, it’s exciting.”Reminiscent of the No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup on the gridiron between Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan back in November 2006, it’s fitting Wisconsin plays Ohio State (24-3, 12-1 Big Ten) Sunday in Columbus, Ohio. Both enter Big Ten play this week with just one loss. Over the weekend, Wisconsin took care of business, defeating Penn State 75-49 to win for a school-record 26th time and Ohio State followed with an 85-67 victory over Minnesota. If all goes accordingly, and they both win their respective games earlier in the week, Sunday’s matchup could very well determine the Big Ten’s regular-season champ. The last time these two teams met, Jan. 9, UW defeated OSU 72-69 at the Kohl Center. Sunday will mark the first time the No. 1 team plays the No. 2 team on the hardwood since No. 1 Duke throttled No. 2 Texas 97-66 Dec. 10, 2005.last_img