Chris Harry’s Blog Harry Fodder
MADISON, Wis. -- The Kohl Center, a venerable palace of a campus facility, opened at the University of Wisconsin at 1998.
Bo Ryan arrived as basketball coach three years later.
Together, the Badgers have been practically unbeatable here since.
As if 10th-ranked Florida (1-0) doesn’t have enough internal issues, what with its roster depleted by three suspended players, the Gators not only must stare down 20th-ranked Wisconsin (1-0), but also one of the most intimidating home-court advantages in all of college basketball.
Not exactly the ideal circumstance for a freshman point guard, but as Aristotle once said, "It is what it is."
"I will not be nervous ... I can't be nervous," Kasey Hill said. "I'm the point guard. I can't show my teammates anything but confidence because they need to have confidence in me."
Far more battled-tested players have had their confidence wilted by Kohl and the Badgers during the Ryan years. But with a UF non-conference schedule littered with four teams -- Wisconsin, Kansas, Connecticut and Memphis -- ranked in the preseason Top 25, plus a date with Florida State, a challenge of such magnitude in just the second game of the season could be significant for the growth of a team looking to replace three starters.
Win or lose.
"We'll find out a lot about guys with this game," Coach Billy Donovan said.
Under Ryan, the Badgers are 181-18 at Kohl -- that’s a .910 winning percentage -- and have won 90 of 97 games against non-conference opponents. UW has been to the NCAA Tournament in each of Ryan’s 12 seasons, winning at least a share of four Big Ten Conference titles along the way including the program's first back-to-back championships (in ‘02, ’03) since the 1923 and ’24 seasons.
Kohl Center, with its basketball capacity of 17,230, was built for a cost of $76.4 million, with a $25 million chunk courtesy of U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), the grocery magnate who owns the Milwaukee Bucks.
Want a sample of its magic?
Remember this from a year ago against eventual NCAA runner-up and Gator-eliminator Michigan?