"There is no way to downplay this rivalry, it is what it is--it's a big deal," said Marquette coach Tom Crean. "It happens once a year, hey, its Marquette and Wisconsin."
Though Wisconsin will have one more day to prepare, both teams will spend the week focusing on the in state match-up. Wisconsin is fresh off an overtime victory over the Winthrop Eagles, and is off to a fast start at 8-1. Marquette boasts a 9-1 record, with their lone blemish coming at home against North Dakota State last weekend.
While much has been made about the rivalry between teams, coach Bo Ryan of Wisconsin and Marquette's Tom Crean compete every year, too, in recruiting.
"I think we are a lot more focused on the game," responded Crean when asked about a rivalry with Ryan. "I think he is a very good coach, no doubt about that. They do things the right way. But we play against a lot of good coaches and good teams."
Crean reiterated his belief that players and teams cannot truly appreciate a rivalry unless they have grown up with it. Marquette sophomore Wes Matthews grew up in Madison and is looking forward to his second annual meeting with his hometown team.
"It's a big game," said Matthews. "I think I circled this game when I signed to play here. They are going to come ready to play and we are going to be here waiting."
Marquette will look to hold serve on their home court, as both the Badgers and Golden Eagles have traded home victories during the last five years. The Bradley Center has been especially kind to the Golden Eagles, as they have won 13 of their last 14 games at home, including seven in a row to finish the conference season last year. While Marquette is averaging just over 13,000 fans at home in 2006, not a seat will remain this Saturday.
"Oh yeah, it is going to be a lot different Saturday," said Jerel McNeal when asked to compare the atmosphere from Tuesday's game to the weekend. "The place will be packed and we will be ready."
Added Crean, "It's a great game for the players; and from the fans perspective, it's the only thing we have heard about since we got back from beating Duke."
**Andrew Sharos is a senior majoring is Secondary Education and History. He is also the Head Student Writer for Marquettehoops.com.