Hoops Keys to the Game

Badgermaniac examines his Keys to the Game for the in-state batttle between Wisconsin and Marquette.

1. Pickup Point

Marquette plays a very aggressive style of defense, attempting to pressure the ball and push the offense outside of their comfort zone. Wisconsin must handle the pressure, not only with respects to limiting turnovers, but also in order to make reasonable post entry passes. Duke was able to push Wisconsin out on the floor which prevented the Badgers from using their advantage in the post.

2. Trevon Hughes' Fouls

Against that pressure style defense, Hughes' ballhandling will be imperative. However, on the other side of the floor, his strength will also be key in defending Marquette point guard Dominic James. Without Hughes for extended periods of time, I struggle to see how Wisconsin will be able to defend both James and McNeal.

3. Finishing Around the Hoop

The Badgers must establish dominance on the interior. This not only applies to controlling the glass, but also in being able to finish in the paint. Whether it be offensive rebounds or typical post play, Badgers such as Brian Butch and Marcus Landry must get some interior points.

4. Tempo, Tempo, Tempo

We have seen what happens when the Badgers get a little willy-nilly against a team that like to play that frenetic run and gun style. The Badgers simply must do a better job of controlling the tempo and forcing Marquette to play a half-court game. Neither James nor Jerel McNeal shoot the ball well enough to consistently beat you in the half-court, but when they are getting penetration in the open court, they are very very tough.

5. Complimentary Points

We pretty much know what to expect from most of the front-line players in this game, so it may come down to who gets the most out of their support or bench players. Does a David Cubillan knock down three of four threes? Does Lazar Hayward get 14 points and 11 boards of garbage play? Does Jason Bohannon shake three for double digit scoring? Does a Marcus Landry play consistent inspired ball and provide consistent offense in the post? Both teams have some weapons on the bench. Who steps forward?

Badgermaniac's Prediction

On one hand, we have a Badger team that is very tough to beat at home. I expect them to do a much better job of controlling tempo than they did against Duke and we all know they shoot the ball much better at home (or so it seems). On the other hand, I believe that Marquette is a tough matchup for the Badgers. I don't see the defensive depth at guard for Wisconsin and think that Marquette will get into the lane via penetration. I also think that the high screen and roll could give the Badgers trouble as their bigs may struggle on the perimeter defensively. Ultimately, I think this game comes down to shot making. My head says the Eagles, but picking against the Badgers at home is something I just don't do. A grinder goes down to the wire, Wisconsin 72, Marquette 70.

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