Preview: Wisconsin at Marquette

Although Wisconsin plays all three state opponents at the Division 1 level each year, this is the one state basketball fans circle on the calendar. With two posting identical records and contrasting styles, Wisconsin's annual match-up with Marquette promises to be a slugfest for 40 minutes.

Wisconsin (7-2, 0-0 Big Ten) at Marquette (7-2, 0-0 Big East)

Date/Time - Saturday, December 11, at 1:30 p.m. Central

Arena – Bradley Center (18,550)

Television - ESPN2 (Dave Pasch & Dan Dakich)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

Series – UW Leads 63-53 (26-38 in Milwaukee)

Last Meeting - Wisconsin won, 72-63, on Dec. 12, 2009 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

11 Jordan Taylor (Junior Guard, 15.0 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Freshman Guard, 7.9 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Senior Forward, 20.0 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Sophomore Forward, 5.1 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Senior Forward, 6.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

2 Wquinton Smith (Senior Guard, 0.9 ppg)

5 Ryan Evans (Sophomore Forward, 4.9 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Senior Forward, 3.4 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Junior Guard, 2.3 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Sophomore Forward, 4.0 ppg)

Marquette Probable Starters

1 Darius Johnson-Odom (Junior Guard, 14.1 ppg)

2 Vander Blue (Freshman Guard, 9.4 ppg)

4 Reggie Smith (Senior Guard, 1.4 ppg)

33 Jimmy Butler (Senior Forward, 15.8 ppg)

42 Chris Otule (Sophomore Center, 6.4 ppg)

Off the Bench

12 Erik Williams (Sophomore Forward, 2.9 ppg)

23 Dwight Buycks (Senior Guard, 9.9 ppg)

32 Jae Crowder (Junior Forward, 11.6 ppg)

54 Davante Gardner (Freshman Guard, 8.3 ppg)

Last Time Out

Since Ryan took over at Wisconsin, the Badgers have excelled to an almost unbelievable degree in the Kohl Center.

But this is getting ridiculous.

Through five games at home this season — and not counting the exhibition season — Wisconsin has defeated their opponents by an average of 29.8 points per game. They embarrassed an ACC team, N.C. State by a 39 point margin of victory. Not a single game has been close even at half time and the tightest margin of victory at the Kohl Center all year has been 15 points.

Wednesday was a repeat of what we have seen all season. The Badgers knocked off UW-Milwaukee 61-40, led at halftime by 19 points and saw all the human victory cigars at the end of the bench see playing time.

Of course, Bo Ryan doesn't see it quite that way.

"They don't care in the end what the stat sheet looks like, in the end they are just looking at one grouping of numbers — left hand side and right hand side," Ryan said. "As long as you have got guys doing that."

The ultimate hot and cold player, Nankivil played the perfect third fiddle to Leuer and Taylor Wednesday night.

Nankivil shot the ball well (5-for-6 for 10 points), rebounded best on the team with nine boards and had three blocks that got the loudest cheers all night. Assigned to guard the Panthers leading scorer Anthony Hill, Nankivil held Hill to three total points on 0-for-8 shooting.

Last Meeting

Leuer scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, grabbed 12 rebounds and had three blocks to help No.20 Wisconsin lead in-state foe Marquette for all 40 minutes, dispatching the Golden Eagles, 72-63, at the Kohl Center.

"We definitely knew that we wanted to get the ball inside against these guys," Leuer said. "We want to do that every game. We get high percentage shots from there. The guards did a great job of getting the ball down low and it's our job to try and make something happen."

Admitted to playing as low as 212 pounds last season, forcing him to be a key bench player for much of the campaign, Leuer weighed in at 230 pounds to start the season, having added a solid 15 pounds of weight. The result, in the eyes of Marquette coach Buzz Williams, is distinctly noticeable, especially after the junior diced up the Golden Eagles in the first 20 minutes.

Leuer was effective in all areas in helping UW (7-2) build a 17-point first half lead. He scored six of his points in the paint, got another three points from the foul line after creating contact in the paint and grabbed six rebounds, a steal and a block.

"I told our guys when we brought up number 30, he's a pro," Williams said. "He was really good off the bench last year. I told our guys that he's really good. His length, his skill set, his intelligence level is a really hard matchup."

The move forced Williams to switch junior defender Jimmy Butler, who quarantined senior Trevon Hughes for most of the first half, to Leuer. Leuer was semi-quiet after halftime (8 points on three made field goals), but Hughes added nine of his 13 points and reserve guard Taylor added seven of his 13 in the second half to pick up the slack.

Series Notes:

Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan has a 5-4 record in his nine decisions with Marquette, going 1-3 at the Bradley Center.

Under Ryan, the Badgers have a 23-4 (.852) record in the in-state round-robin with Marquette, Milwaukee and Green Bay. Ryan's teams have never finished worse than 2-1 in the state series.

MU has met Wisconsin more times (116) in men's basketball than any other opponent in program history. Notre Dame and Marquette have met on 113 occasions dating back to 1920, the second-most matchups against any single opponent in the record book.

Wisconsin is 100-98 all-time against members of the Big East Conference.

Marquette Notes:

Saturday's matchup will complete Marquette's trio of games against each of the other three NCAA Division I programs in the state of Wisconsin. MU has already defeated Green Bay (Nov. 17) and Milwaukee (Nov. 27) in 2010-11. This year marks the first time since 1996-97 MU has faced the Phoenix, Panthers and Badgers in the same campaign.

Junior forward Jae Crowder has made at least one 3-pointer in each of the last seven games for Marquette. He is shooting a perfect 7-of-7 from behind the line on his respective first attempt of each outing. For the season, Crowder is connecting on 40.0 percent (8-of-20) from 3-point land.

Wisconsin Notes:

Wisconsin ranks No. 2 in the nation with a 1.64 assist-to-turnover ratio. Pittsburgh (1.72) is the only team with a better mark than the Badgers. UW is averaging 15.2 assists per game and turning it over just 9.2 times. The Badgers' starting backcourt duo of Jordan Taylor (42 ast, 11 TOs) and Josh Gasser (22 ast, 8 TOs) have a combined assist-to-turnover mark of 3.37.

Dating back to last season, the Badgers have a 29-1 record when leading or tied with 4:00 remaining in regulation, including a 7-1 mark this season.

As a team, Wisconsin is shooting a Big Ten-best 79.7 percent from the free throw line this season. That mark also ranks fourth in the nation. Wisconsin's single-season record for team free throw shooting percentage is .758, established in 1983-84.

Eight different Badgers have had a game scoring in double figures this season: Jon Leuer (9), Jordan Taylor (8), Ryan Evans (2), Josh Gasser (2), Keaton Nankivil (2), Jared Berggren (1), Mike Bruesewitz (1) and Tim Jarmusz (1). Last season, UW had seven players total reach 10 or more points in a game.

Through nine games, Wisconsin has already forced its opponents into 16 scoreless droughts of 4:00 or longer - an AVERAGE of 1.8 droughts per game.

Prediction

First off, condolences go out to my friends, Dan and Steve Raymonds, on the loss of their father, Hank, last week. I unfortunately never got to meet Hank Raymonds, the former coach and Athletic Director from Marquette, but if he was anything like his two boys, I really missed out.

Marquette should have the advantage in this game because the quickness should push UW into uncomfortable situations, especially on slashes to the paint, although the loss of Joe Fulce (knee) and the limitations on Dwight Buycks (ankle) could be significant.

One thing that's not hard to overlook. Over the last five seasons (2006-07 to present), Wisconsin has gone 26-18 (.591) in true road games. That mark ranks as the sixth-highest win percentage among teams in the six BCS conferences.

The Badgers have allowed just two teams to reach 60 points in a game this season (UNLV- 68 and South Dakota - 61). UW is 144-14 (.911) under Ryan when keeping teams below the 60-point mark. Wisconsin would need an outstanding defensive performance to hit that mark.

The other key – Vander Blue. Need we say more?

Wisconsin hasn't won at Marquette since 2006, when the Badgers have Alando Tucker. This year's Badgers have Jon Leuer. Will it be enough? By the narrowest of margins, I unfortunately say it won't be, as the Warriors win by one.

Worgull's Record: 9-0

Points off Prediction: 72 (8.0 per game)


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