It is time once again when for about two and a half hours we, as Wisconsin fans, deeply care about beating Marquette in men’s basketball. The No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers (6-1 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) return home and welcome the Marquette Golden Eagles (7-1 overall, 0-0 Big East) to the Kohl Center.
The Badgers are on a bit of a heater right now, having won four games in a row while earning the Maui Invitational title and clinching the B1G/ACC Challenge for the best conference in the country. Their victory over Houston in the Maui semifinals is one of the best wins of any team in the country and beating Saint Mary’s and Georgia Tech (on the road) ain’t half bad either.
Marquette has only lost one game this year, to a good St. Bonaventure team, and has scored wins over Illinois, West Virginia and Ole Miss. New head coach, and Madison-area native, Shaka Smart has the team playing with energy and a roster of mainly new players is starting to gel.
Saturday will be a homecoming of sorts for Marquette coach Shaka Smart. A piece on how growing up without a father and fighting back against racism shaped the Madison-area native: https://t.co/FN75TbHcCd— Jim Polzin (@JimPolzinWSJ) December 3, 2021
The new coach has brought a new style of play to Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles have the No. 3 fastest adjusted tempo in the country, according to KenPom, and have the shortest average possession length of any team in the country at 14 seconds. Compare that to Wisconsin’s tempo, which is No. 317 in the nation, and you’ll have a real clash of styles on Saturday morning. I don’t think it’s crazy to say that whichever team controls the pace of the game will probably emerge the winner.
The Golden Eagles also are the fifth least experienced team in the country this year, so there has been a lot of learning on the fly for them. Maryland grad transfer, and former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Darryl Morsell is providing the veteran leadership for the team. He should prove especially useful in this game as he has played at the Kohl Center and against Wisconsin multiple times. He is second on the team, averaging 15.3 ppg, and shooting nearly 44% from deep while playing his usual stout defense.
Redshirt freshman and returning leading scorer Justin Lewis is leading the team in scoring at 16.1 ppg, more than doubling his output from last season. After those two there are a whole host of freshmen and young transfers filling out MU’s rotation.
Wisconsin will have a height advantage over the Golden Eagles and will need to use it to win the rebounding battle. Something else to note if this game is close, which it usually is, is that Wisconsin is a very good free throw shooting team while Marquette is almost exactly average. Add in the fact that it is Marquette’s first true road game of the season and you could see the Golden Eagles bricking a couple of freebies.
Rivalry Ready! It's GAME DAY❗️❕ pic.twitter.com/lQbTSv06ZG— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) December 4, 2021
The matchup between Johnny Davis and Morsell should be excellent as should Tyler Wahl doing battle with Lewis in the post. According to Bart Torvik, Wahl shoots 68% on “close twos” while Lewis shoots 71%. This game has a lot of the makings of another Brad Davison Game since MU has a bunch of young guards and Davison may still be feeling himself after torching Georgia Tech earlier in the week.
However it goes, odds are high that you won’t be able to unclench your jaw until the final buzzer sounds. The Badgers are debuting their brand new alternate jerseys, the Kohl Center will be Striped Out and a national TV audience will get a little glimpse of a Wisconsin rivalry that is hard to explain to outsiders. Let’s do this!
How to watch/listen
TV: FOX, 11:30 a.m. CT, Aaron Goldsmith, Jim Jackson
Streaming: FOX SPORTS App; Fox Sports
Radio/Satellite: WIBA 1310 AM, Sirius/XM 195; Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas
Live stats: Here!
Arena: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.
DraftKings Line: Wisconsin -5.5
(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 79%
Torvik Wisconsin win percentage: 83%
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- For the overall series, Wisconsin leads 68-59, and when then game is played in Madison...Wisconsin also leads 39-18.
- Separated by just 75 miles, the Badgers and Golden Eagles meet for the 128th time in a series that began in 1917. UW and MU have played every year but one since the 1958-59 season.
- UW won the first-ever meeting in 1917, 15-14, on a controversial free throw from All-American William Chandler in the final seconds. MU unsuccessfully protested that the corresponding foul had occurred after time expired. Ironically, Chandler would later serve as the head coach at Marquette from 1930-51.
- MU has met only DePaul more times (129) than Wisconsin in program history.
Golden Eagles head to @BadgerMBB Saturday morning for the 128th all-time meeting between the two programs, the team's first true road outing of the 2021-22 campaign.#MUBB | #WeAreMarquette— Marquette Basketball (@MarquetteMBB) December 3, 2021
- Marquette has won three of the past five meetings, however, and two of the last three when Wisconsin enters the game ranked (although all three of those games were in Milwaukee).
- Only Greg Elliott and Justin Lewis has played against the Badgers with the Blue & Gold, with Darryl Morsell having the most experience (seven games) against UW after four years at fellow Big Ten member Maryland. The only two players to have seen game action at the Kohl Center are Elliott and Morsell.
- A total of four current Badgers (Brad Davison, Johnny Davis, Ben Carlson and Tyler Wahl) have seen more than one minute of action against Marquette
- Johnny Davis, 6-foot-5, sophomore, guard, No. 1
- Tyler Wahl, 6-foot-9, junior, forward, No. 5
- Steven Crowl, 7-foot, sophomore, forward, No. 22
- Chucky Hepburn, 6-foot-2, freshman, guard, No. 23
- Brad Davison, 6-foot-4, super senior, guard, No. 34
- Kam Jones, 6-foot-4, freshman, guard, No. 1
- Justin Lewis, 6-foot-7, RS freshman, forward, No. 10
- Tyler Kolek, 6-foot-3, RS freshman, guard, No. 22
- Darryl Morsell, 6-foot-5, super senior, guard, No. 32
- Kur Kuath, 6-foot-10, super senior, forward, No. 35