Wisconsin Badgers (7-2) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (7-2)
Saturday, 1:30 PM CST
TV: ESPN 2 (Dave Pasch – play by play; Dan Dakish – analyst)
RADIO: 540 ESPN
Bragging rights will once again be on the line Saturday as Bo Ryan's Badgers come to town for the 117th edition of this storied in-state rivalry. Wisconsin enters the match-up riding a three-game winning streak of their own and will look to make it two-straight over the Golden Eagles after taking a 72-63 victory last year in Madison.
The Badgers most recent victory was a decisive 21-point result over UW-Milwaukee Wednesday, but their most impressive showing came a week earlier when they took North Carolina State to the shed – so to say – in an 87-48 whipping in ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Wisconsin dominated the boards, holding a plus-14 margin and also turned in an impressive defensive showing which saw them hold the Wolfpack scoreless for over ten minutes.
Instrumental in nearly every game for the Badgers are senior forward Jon Leuer and junior guard Jordan Taylor. The two lead the Badgers in scoring at 20.0 and 15.0 points per game respectively, but more importantly provide stability and leadership to both the Badger frontcourt and backcourt.
At 6'10", Leuer proves to be an incredibly dangerous player because he not only has the ability to score on the block but also from behind the arch making him a match-up nightmare. Taylor on the other hand, does most of his damage from outside. He is the Badgers' best ball-handler – leading the team in assists – and knocks down the 3-point shot at nearly a 37% clip, forcing teams to play him honest and not drop off to give added support to the post.
Including Leuer, Wisconsin's frontcourt sports four Badgers who go 6'8" or bigger. Of this remaining bunch, senior Keaton Nankivil posses the biggest threat. The one-time Marquette recruiting target and Madison Memorial H.S. graduate goes 6'8" and has the bulk, which allows him to be a force in the paint when he decides to be. Nankivil is a scary prospect for Saturday's matchup because he is the type of player who can dominate one game and completely disappear in the next one. Marquette was fortunate to avoid a standout performance from him last year, but still must account for him – even out to 20 feet from the basket.
One of the Badgers' biggest flaws is their lack of depth – from a scoring a standpoint. Despite the fact that Bo Ryan has shown a tendency to go nine or even ten deep this year, Wisconsin struggles to find much scoring from their bench and hence can become subject to foul trouble. This issue is highlighted in the backcourt as after Taylor there don't remain many options to run the point.
Josh Gasser probably remains the exception to this lack of scoring depth in the backcourt as the freshman has really come on of late. He has worked his way into the starting line-up – something very uncharacteristic for a Bo Ryan team – and not only possesses good range shooting the ball but can also spell Taylor at the point. Gasser also rebounds well for his position averaging nearly five boards a game.
As is always the case in this game, tempo will be a key factor. While the Golden Eagles like to play a faster game and get out in transition, the Badgers would prefer a slower paced half-court affair. Whoever can dictate the pace at which the game is played is at a distinct advantage and will likely get the win.
To beat the Badgers, Marquette must succeed in doing two things.
First, the Golden Eagles must hound Jordan Taylor and put a considerable amount of pressure on the ball at the defensive end. Doing this will not only make it more difficult for Wisconsin to get the ball inside, but will also work to wear down the Badger guards.
And secondly, Marquette must continue to attack the basket. By doing this Marquette opens up the outside shot and also presents opportunities to create foul trouble amongst the Badger bigs.
Look for Saturday's affair to be yet another nail-biter. While each team may make a run or two and stretch out the lead, I wouldn't expect a final margin much greater than five points. One very-telling statistic each time these two teams play is that of free-throws. Whoever shoots more generally wins, a statistic that particularly favors the Badgers as they shoot nearly 80% from the charity stripe as opposed to the Golden Eagles' 68%.
Head Coach: Bo Ryan (224-84 – 10th season, 607-187 – 27th overall)
Probable Badger Starters
F – Jon Leuer (6‘10" 230 lb Senior) (20.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg)
F – Keaton Nankivil (6‘8" 245 lb Senior) (6.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
F – Mike Bruesewitz (6‘6" 220 lb Sophomore) (5.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
G – Josh Gasser (6'4" 190 lb Freshman) (7.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.3 apg)
G – Jordan Taylor (6'1" 195 lb Junior) (15.0 ppg, 4.7 apg)
G/F – Tim Jarmusz (6'8" 208 lb Senior) (3.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
G/F – Ryan Evans (6'6" 210 lb Sophomore) (4.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
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