Badgers climb into rarefied air

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Gasser_Josh_Marquette_2013_14_Gotter_web.jpgMADISON, Wis. -- Bo Ryan admitted Monday at his weekly news conference that he never pays attention to rankings and will not bring it up with his team this week or any week for that matter.

But that won't stop us from acknowledging the fact that Wisconsin has climbed to No. 4 in the latest AP rankings, its highest position since the 2006-07 season.

"This team's attention will be on the clips from Saturday and the UWM scouting report," Ryan said. "That's all we'll talk about. Now what they talk about in the locker room or on campus or anything else, I just hope they understand that they've done some things that put them in this position."

This "position" is rarefied air for the Badgers.

In the history of the AP poll, which began in 1949, Wisconsin is spending just its 13th week in the top five. In fact, prior to this week's appearance the only other time the Badgers climbed this high in the rankings was a 12-week run from Dec. 18, 2006 to March 5, 2007.

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That 2006-07 team reached the No. 1 spot in the Feb. 19, 2007 AP poll. A position that Wisconsin did not hold for long Ryan joked with reporters.

"That lasted a long time," he said. "Seven days."

Upon reaching the top ranking, the 2006-07 Badgers dropped a pair of road contests at No. 2 Ohio State and at Michigan State. That team would go on to finish 30-6 and earn a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament before falling to UNLV in the second round.

At 10-0, this year's team has climbed from a preseason ranking of No. 20 up to No. 4 in six weeks. Now, it will likely deal with a sizeable target on its back. Something Ryan thinks the team is prepared for.

"Because of the leadership that we have, I think the right things are being said in the locker room and the right direction is being given out on the court with the players, with the upperclassmen. Even though it's not a real old group at all, there are guys that have been around. They've knocked off in years past teams that were highly ranked. So they know highly ranked teams are just as vulnerable as anybody else."

Wisconsin has three non-conference games remaining - all at home - beginning with in-state rival Milwaukee on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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