Wisconsin has hit its first bump in the road as it adjusts to life without Jon Leuer, but the 18th-ranked Badgers should find solace in a return to the Kohl Center.
Coach Bo Ryan's team boasts another spotless home record entering Wednesday's game against Michigan, which has not won in Madison in more than 10 years.Playing their second game without Leuer -- an emerging 6-foot-10 forward who has been perhaps Wisconsin's most important player -- the Badgers (14-4, 4-2 Big Ten) lost 60-51 at Ohio State on Saturday.They shot 40.4 percent form the field, relying heavily on the 3-point shot but making just 9 of 26."Boy, we had a lot of open looks from outside," Ryan said. "(Ohio State) squeezed inside pretty good. ... If the shots aren't going down from the perimeter, it hurts."The absence of Leuer, who could miss several weeks with a broken left wrist, has left Wisconsin lacking a strong inside scorer. The junior was averaging 15.4 points and 6.2 rebounds.The Badgers have gone with a smaller starting lineup that includes three guards. That trio of Trevon Hughes, Jason Bohannon and Jordan Taylor combined for 34 points against the Buckeyes, but Wisconsin was held to 16 points in the paint and attempted five free throws -- easily a season low."Inside post presence is something that you have to have, whether you're home or away," Ryan said. "Both ends, on defense and offense."Being home, however, should help Wisconsin, which is 130-10 at the Kohl Center since Ryan took over in 2001. The Badgers are 10-0 there this season, including wins over Duke and Purdue while each was ranked in the top 10.Leuer was injured during a 73-66 victory over the then-No. 4 Boilermakers on Jan. 9, as Hughes, Bohannon and Taylor combined for 57 points. Wisconsin's smaller lineup may have another favorable matchup against Michigan, which starts four guards along with standout forward DeShawn Sims.The Wolverines have lost eight straight in Madison dating back to 1999, although the last two defeats were by a combined eight points. Michigan coach John Beilein credited Wisconsin's strong defense after a 60-55 loss at the Kohl Center on March 1."Being down by five or seven is being down like 15 to other people," Beilein said. "It's just really hard. They shorten the game, and you're really going to have to make some huge shots."The Badgers are holding opponents to 56.7 points per game this season, ranking among the top 10 nationally, and 51.8 at home.The Wolverines (10-7, 3-2) are 1/3 on the road, but they arrive with momentum after a 68-63 home win over then-No. 15 Connecticut on Sunday.It was the first of four straight games against ranked opponents for Michigan, which visits No. 13 Purdue on Saturday before hosting sixth-ranked Michigan State next week."We definitely needed this with the stretch we've got coming up," Sims said. "Now we know that if we play our best, we can beat the best."Sims averages 16.9 points but was held to eight against Connecticut, matching his second-lowest total of the season. But junior guard Manny Harris -- the Big Ten's leading scorer with 19.6 points per game -- scored 18 for Michigan and got help from other sources.Guards Stu Douglass and Zach Novak combined for 23 points while reserve forward Anthony Wright scored a season-high nine points, all on 3-pointers."Michigan needs that," Huskies coach Jim Calhoun said. "Harris and Sims can't be the only stars in town."