Preview: No.16 Marquette vs. No.9 Wisconsin

It's the best college basketball rivalry in the state and it's become even more intense this season with both teams ranked in the top 20. Looking to make it three straight in the series, Wisconsin looks to bounce back from its North Carolina setback when it hosts undefeated Marquette Saturday afternoon.

No.16 Marquette (6-0, 0-0 Big East) vs. No.9 Wisconsin (6-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, December 1, 3:30 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - Big Ten Network (Brian Anderson and Jim Jackson)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Phil Dawson and Andy North)

Series – Wisconsin leads 64-53 (UW leads 37-15 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 69-64, on December 11, 2010 in Milwaukee

Wisconsin Probable Starters

5 Ryan Evans (Junior Forward, 9.6 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Senior Guard, 12.0 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (Sophomore Guard, 8.7 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Junior Forward, 6.6 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Junior Forward, 12.6 ppg)

Off the Bench

1 Ben Brust (Sophomore Guard, 12.3 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (Freshman Guard, 1.0 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Senior Guard, 3.2 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (Freshman Forward, 3.7 ppg)

Marquette Probable Starters

1 Darius Johnson-Odom (Senior Guard, 19.8 ppg)

2 Vander Blue (Sophomore Guard, 10.7 ppg)

5 Junior Cadougan (Junior Guard, 7.7 ppg)

32 Jae Crowder (Senior Forward, 19.3 ppg)

42 Chris Otule (Junior Center, 6.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

0 Jamil Wilson (Sophomore Forward, 3.5 ppg)

4 Todd Mayo (Freshman Guard, 8.8 ppg)

54 Davante Gardner (Sophomore Forward, 7.2 ppg)

Last Time Out

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The Tar Heels broke out of their game long shooting slump with a decisive 18-5 run, engineered by All-American Harrison Barnes scoring 10 of his game-high 20 points, to help North Carolina stave off Wisconsin to a hard-fought 60-57 victory in front of 21,750 that extended its home court winning streak to 19 games. It wasn't easy, not by a long shot.

Wisconsin – denied its first 7-0 start since the 1993-94 season - was doing everything it wanted to do in order to beat a team like North Carolina. Entering the under 12 media timeout, Wisconsin controlled the pace, had shut down the Tar Heels' perimeter game, limited fast-break opportunities and even outmuscled the fifth-ranked team in the country in their baby blue backyard.

Problem was that it's hard to keep a good team, or a good player for the fact, down for too long.

Barnes, who was a game-time decision after tweaking his right ankle in Saturday's 90-80 loss to UNLV, simply exercised his will against a Wisconsin frontcourt not used to his size. He used his teammates to create screens and hit 3-pointers from the perimeter, he used his length to score inside and he used his size to draw fouls and make free throws.

"I think that they won (the momentum battle) early in the game, but towards the second half we started pressing a little bit more," said Barnes, whose team scored eight points from the free-throw line on the run. "That kind of sped the pace up which was more our style."

But the Badgers were denied their first victory over a top 5 team on the road since beating No.4 Ohio State, 72-71, on Jan. 26 1980, a span of 16 straight games, because the basket wasn't kind to them.

Entering the night shooting 47.2 percent from three-point range (second best in the nation) and 49.4 percent overall, Wisconsin was cold from the start and never truly heated up, finishing 8 of 28 from 3-point range (28.6 percent) and 35.9 percent overall (23 of 64).

Senior guard Jordan Taylor was the biggest culprit. He scored 18 points to lead UW, but missed 14 of 20 field-goal attempts, including 8 of his 11 from three-point range. Taylor was 2-for-5 in the final six minutes, including an open 3-pointer with 17 seconds left that could have cut the score to 59-57. He also missed 3 of his 6 free-throw attempts, the only UW player to attempt a free throw.

Last Meeting

MILWAUKEE – As much as Wisconsin needs senior All-Big Ten selection Jon Leuer on the court, the Badgers proved last year that they can survive without him.

They don't want to make a habit of playing without the senior's 20 points per game, but the Badgers showed against their fiercest in-state rival that Wisconsin's other moving parts are more than capable of being successful.

The Badgers played 7 minutes, 3 seconds without their leading scorer and more than weathered the storm, building their second-half lead and getting a game high 21 points from Jordan Taylor to upend Marquette, 69-64, in front of 19,074 at a raucous Bradley Center.

Leuer was commanding tempo for Wisconsin (8-2), leading the team with 13 points when he picked up a shooting foul, his third, with 17:44 remaining in the second half and UW up 36-32.

That opportunity awoke senior Keaton Nankivil, who scored the next six points on a jumper, a tip-in off his offensive rebound and a drive with the shot clock running out to help push the lead to 42-35.

"To keep making progress like that and to stretch the lead out is huge," said Nankivil, who also grabbed three of his five rebounds during the stretch. "When we have a player like Jon, who is so important to our team offensively and defensively, with the fouls, for us to be able to make some progress is huge for us."

The Badgers got more production when the Golden Eagles (7-3) went cold, missing their first four shots after Leuer hit the bench. Jordan Taylor, Jared Berggren (8 points) and Rob Wilson (3) all scored to help the Badgers turn a four-point lead into a seven-point lead with Leuer returned with 10:41 remaining.

With fresh legs, Leuer slammed home an assist from Mike Bruesewitz, keying a 7-2 run that gave the Badgers a 12-point advantage, the largest of the game.

But just like some of Wisconsin's other road games, the Badgers found a way to make it interesting, seeing a 10-point lead cut to 64-62 after a three with 20.1 seconds left.

This time, there was no late-game disappointment. Taylor made 4 of 5 free throws down the stretch and Gasser knocked a bounce pass off Buycks out of bounds with 1.8 seconds left and UW up three. Two Taylor free throws was the final straw.

"They all stepped up and that was fun," Leuer said. "I was a cheerleader on the sideline for a little bit and it was fun to see those guys step up and produce for us … It was a big road win for us against an in-state rival. It's going to be a good resume win for us."

Series Notes:

Wisconsin and Marquette will renew one of the best rivalries in college basketball on Saturday. Separated by just 75 miles, the Badgers and Golden Eagles have met 117 times in a series that began in 1917.

UW and MU have played every year but one since the 1958-59 season (did not play in 1984-85).

Bo Ryan owns a 6-4 record against Marquette, while Buzz Williams is 1-2 in games vs. the Badgers. At the Kohl Center, Ryan's teams are 4-1 vs. the Golden Eagles.

Under Ryan, the Badgers have a 25-4 (.862) 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.

UW is 101-99 all-time against teams currently in the Big East Conference.

Wisconsin Notes

The Badgers are off to a suffocating start on the defensive end, allowing opponents a nation's-low 42.1 points per game. UW also ranks 3rd in the nation in opposing field goal shooting, limiting foes to just 32.1 percent.

Wisconsin is averaging 1.18 points per possession on offense, good enough for 13th in the NCAA. On the defensive end, the Badgers lead the nation with a simply stifling 0.71 points per possession on the defensive end.

Despite shooting 28.6% from deep at UNC, Wisconsin is still shooting 44.2% (76-for-172) from 3-point range on the season, which ranks 2nd in the Big Ten and 13th in the NCAA. UW's 10.9 treys per game is also 3rd in NCAA.

In 11 seasons at UW, Bo Ryan's teams are 36-41 overall vs. ranked opponents, including an impressive 25-7 (.781) mark at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin went 16-0 at the Kohl Center last season and has now won 23 straight overall at home (41 of the last 42).

Marquette Notes:

Among the 16 BIG EAST programs, MU ranks first or second in a total of five offensive statistics, including scoring offense (1st, 88.0 ppg.) and field goal percentage (1st, .531).

Marquette claimed its first tournament victory of any kind since the 2006-07 campaign (CBE Classic), when the squad captured the 2011 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam championship with a 59-57 win over Norfolk State on Nov. 21.

The Golden Eagles have made more free throws (123) than their opponents have attempted (93). As a result, MU is outscoring opponents by an average of 11 points per game (20.5-9.5) from the line.

The Golden Eagles were picked sixth in the annual BIG EAST Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, receiving 155 total points. In 2010-11, Marquette was picked eighth in the preseason poll and ended up the regular season owning a share of ninth place overall (11th seed in league tourney), but did advance to the program's 14th Sweet 16 appearance in school history.

Prediction

Making the radio rounds this week, I was consistently asked about Wisconsin's performance at North Carolina, one many people thought UW didn't have much of a chance in. Reflecting on the way home, two thoughts came to mind. One, Wisconsin executed its game plan perfectly – slowed the tempo, near flawless transition defense, make the post players work and force turnovers. The only thing UW didn't do was shoot, prompting associate head coach Greg Gard to say, ‘that's the only thing we didn't talk about ad nauseam.' Oops.

The second thing was that Berggren and Taylor took no silver linings in the loss, saying UW came there to win and wouldn't settle for anything else. It's not only a sign of how far the program has come in the last 10 years but a sign that UW as a team that can win anyplace, anywhere against any team.

One place the Badgers haven't had problems winning is in the Kohl Center where UW has won 10 consecutive home games against teams ranked in the AP Top-25. Wisconsin's average margin of victory over that 10-game streak has been 9.8 points per game.

In Bo Ryan's 11 seasons at Wisconsin, the Badgers have compiled a 155-11 (.934) record at the Kohl Center, including a 77-5 (.939) mark in nonconference games and a record of 78-6 (.929) in Big Ten home games. During its 23-game home winning streak, UW has won by an average of 22.6 points per game.

Although the Badgers didn't hit the 50-point mark against North Carolina (60 isn't too bad against the Tar Heels), UW held each of its first five opponents below 50 points. The last time UW allowed fewer than 50 points in five consecutive wins came during the final five regular season games of Wisconsin's 1941 national championship season. Foreshadowing?

Wisconsin's defense has been impressive, its home dominance is phenomenal and the Badgers aren't going to have too many bad shooting nights in a row. If Wisconsin can put the same defensive pressure on Marquette's two 19-point scorers that they did on UNC's NBA frontcourt, Wisconsin will win this game by nine.

After all, Saturday will mark just the fourth time Wisconsin and Marquette have faced each other when both are ranked in the AP Top-25, all coming since 1994 and two since 2003. The Badgers have won each of the three previous encounters. Foreshadowing?

Worgull's Record: 7-0

Points off Prediction: 75 (10.7 per game)


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