MADISON, Wis. — Illinois coach John Groce gets a wry smile on his face when asked about playing the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison.
The second-year head coach of the Fighting Illini knows very well the “well documented” history of success for the Badgers on their home court.
In his 13th season with Wisconsin, Bo Ryan teams are 190-18 (.913 winning percentage) at home, including 92-11 (.893) in Big Ten Conference games.
“It’s always a great challenge to play them, it’s always a great challenge to play up there,’’ said Groce after the Illini defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 75-55 on Saturday. “We love challenges. Nothing is easy in this league.
“They are tough to play regardless of where you play them.’’
That has certainly been the case this season as the fourth-rated Badgers are off to their best start in school history (15-0). It has been 90 years since Wisconsin started a year 15-0 and the only other time the school won its first 15 games was in the 1911-12 season.
“We know we have limitations,’’ said Ryan during Monday’s Big Ten teleconference. “We know that we might not be this, and we might not be that. But, we are more concern with what we are and what we can do.’’
According to Groce, the Badgers are a very disciplined and well-coached unit.
“They are a team when you watch them play, they really play the game the right way,’’ he said. “They play together at both ends of the floor. They don’t beat themselves.They don’t turnover it over. They make free throws late. They make the extra pass. All the little discipline and detailed things, that I think are important, they do well.
“At the end of the day, you have to beat them. They are not going to beat themselves.’’