No 13 Wisconsin seeking rare road sweep at Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — No. 13 Wisconsin has an opportunity to achieve a pair of unique milestones on Sunday afternoon when it travels to Mackey Arena to play No. 20 Purdue.

No Wisconsin team has won at Indiana and at Purdue during the same season since 1972. The Badgers (13-2, 2-0 Big Ten) defeated No. 25 Indiana 75-68 on Tuesday night in Bloomington’s Assembly Hall and will go for a rare Hoosier State sweep against the Boilermakers (13-3, 2-1), who beat Wisconsin twice during the 2015-2016 season, including a 91-80 victory in March at West Lafayette.

A Wisconsin victory Sunday would mark the first time since Illinois in 1956 that a Big Ten opponent won at Indiana and at Purdue in consecutive games on its schedule.

This is the only meeting during the regular season between the Badgers and the Boilermakers, and a victory by the Badgers would put Wisconsin ahead of Purdue by two games in the Big Ten loss column and give coach Greg Gard’s team the advantage in any potential tiebreaker with Purdue.

To create some space between itself and Purdue, Wisconsin will have to contend with Boilermakers power forward Caleb Swanigan, who is averaging 18.3 points and 12.9 rebounds and scored 27 in the 11-point victory against the Badgers in March.

Swanigan’s free throw with 5.3 seconds remaining Thursday night gave Purdue a huge 76-75 victory at Ohio State, where Purdue was 1-13 in Value City Arena from the time the venue opened for the 1998-99 season.

Swanigan is working on a streak of seven consecutive double-doubles.

“His motor is high,” Wisconsin forward Vitto Brown said of Swanigan. “He is deceptively quick with how big he is, and he’s always moving, always trying to find the ball, whether that’s rebounding, blocking shots or posting up. You definitely have to be on high alert the whole time with him.”

The Wisconsin coaching staff is focused on Purdue’s primary threat.

“He’s got all the talent,” Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft said. “It was just a matter of time before the numbers really started piling up, and they are.”

Swanigan is eager to pull even with Wisconsin in the Big Ten loss column after the Boilermakers were upset 91-82 in overtime by Minnesota on Jan. 1 in Mackey Arena. Beating Ohio State in Columbus was crucial.

“I don’t think the Ohio State game really boosts our confidence, but it helps sustain it,” Swanigan said. “We’re supposed to beat teams like Minnesota, and we felt like we were supposed to beat Ohio State, too.

“Now going into Wisconsin, we feel like we are supposed to win that game, too, and keep this thing rolling.”

Purdue forward Vince Edwards, who is averaging 12.4 points and 5.5 rebounds, hopes the victory at Ohio State is the beginning of a run of success.

“Ohio State showed that we are capable of winning big games while being mature about it,” Edwards said.

Now, according to guard Dakota Mathias, the Boilermakers have positioned themselves to challenge for a Big Ten title.

“Ohio State was a good win, but we’ve got to get going in continuing to study Wisconsin,” Mathias said. “They are going to come into a great atmosphere, and we are excited for that.”

Coach Matt Painter is excited to play the nation’s No. 13 team. Purdue’s three losses — to No. 1 Villanova, No. 6 Louisville and Minnesota — are to teams with a collective 40-6 record.

“Beating Ohio State was beating an NCAA-caliber team, a team that has a lot of ability,” Painter said. “Getting a true road win builds your confidence, especially a game like Thursday’s that could have gone either way.”

Purdue leads this series 107-69, including 38-4 in Mackey Arena, which opened for the 1967-68 season.