The most glaring difference between Wisconsin and Marquette is preferred game tempo. Bo Ryan's offense is methodical and patient, and his defense is designed to force a bad shot. Buzz Williams' offense is fast paced and uses athleticism to score and his defense is meant to force turnovers with ball pressure. Both strategies depend on the flow of the game and can fail in the wrong circumstances. Whoever can force the other team to play their tempo will have a much better shot at winning this game.
2. Home court advantage?
While this is a home game for Marquette, don't be surprised to see plenty of red in the stands. Many Badgers fans live in the Milwaukee area and many more will make the short trip from Madison for the game. If the Badgers take a big lead, it could get loud, turning the home court advantage into an away court advantage.
3. Familiar foes
As an interstate rivalry game, this might as well be a conference game. Both teams know each other and know the tendencies of the opponent. The team that brings the most surprises could very well come out on top. That also means the freshmen could play a big part in the game. For Wisconsin, Josh Gasser could get a lot of open looks, especially from 3-point range since Marquette will be focusing on Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor. For Marquette, keeping Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom from slashing to the basket may give Vander Blue and open path or open shot.
4. Rebound hounds
The Wisconsin bigs, Leuer and Keaton Nankivil especially, have shown they can dominate the glass at times. This isn't always the case though. In the loss to Notre Dame, offensive rebounds by the Irish killed the Badgers. Wisconsin needs to bring the killer instinct against an undersized Marquette team.
5. Find the stroke
The biggest issue the Badgers have had this year is an inability to score consistently. Against NC State (50 percent, 55 percent from 3-point range), they had no trouble finding the bottom of the net. In Las Vegas (36 percent) and Orlando (36 percent, 45 percent, and 35 percent), points were a little hard to come by. It's no wonder they blew second half leads in both of their losses. The Badgers need to find consistency fast with a difficult Big Ten season approaching and this is their last true test before then.
These games are always close and I can't see this one being any different. I think it may come down to how the refs call it. If they call it tight, the Badgers could be in early foul trouble. If they let it go, Marquette could have 12 turnovers at the half. In the end, I think Wisconsin is the better team so I'll go with them to win.
Wisconsin 71 Marquette 68