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The top 5 Wisconsin blowout wins in the modern Marquette rivalry

Beating Marquette is fun. Beating Marquette badly is even better. We reminisce about the five biggest blowout wins by the Badgers over Marquette since the addition of the three-point line in 1986.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

It is a little unfair, really. Marquette got to focus on its hatred for Wisconsin for a fully legit Hate Week, since last Sunday's win over Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Badgers had bigger fish to fry. Except that when Duke came to town, Wisconsin (7-1) couldn't actually fry the big fish. So now the Golden Eagles (4-3) must pay.

What better way to cheer Badger fans up than talk about some of the biggest wins Wisconsin has engineered over Marquette in the I-94 series?

Sure there have been dark days for the Badgers in this rivalry. Take the entire decade of the 1970s for example. Marquette head coach Al McGuire turned the then-Warriors into a national power under his watch and dominated Wisconsin. Lean years and losing streaks to the Marquette were common in the John Powless and Bill Cofield eras. Even after McGuire retired, Marquette recorded the largest beatdown either team has delivered, 94-64 on March 9, 1982 in Milwaukee, putting the final nail in the coffin of the Cofield era (with Badger assistant Bo Ryan on the sidelines no less).

But that was over 30 years ago now. The three-point shot wasn't even a thing yet. And Wisconsin is smack dab in the middle of its golden age of hoops with Ryan in charge. The last 25 years have seen the Badgers regain the upper hand, with the help of several emphatic wins, presented here in chronological order.

Feb. 19, 1990, in Madison

Wisconsin 82, Marquette 65

The UW Field House was unkind to surly Marquette head coach Kevin O'Neill from the very beginning. He was ejected in the waning seconds of this particular butt-whooping, which is always enjoyable for a raucous home crowd. Marquette picked up a total of five technical fouls in all. Not even Wisconsin head coach Steve Yoder could screw this one up.

Marquette guard Tony Smith tied a school record with an epic 44 point-performance, but the Warriors could do little else. Powerful forwards Danny Jones (19 points) and Patrick Tompkins (16 rebounds) were too much inside, but long-range gunner Tim Locum also added 17 points for Wisconsin, which raced to its fifth consecutive win in the series.

Jan. 4, 1992, in Madison

Wisconsin 81, Marquette 63

Wisconsin built a large first-half lead after switching to a matchup zone to limit Marquette's 7'1" Jim McIlvaine and Damon Key inside. It worked. Junior forward Louis Ely tallied 15 points, three blocks and four steals and helped get McIlvaine in foul trouble. Tracy Webster added 12 second-half points and six assists against the untested Warriors.

How does Yoder get two wins on this list? I don't know, but he did. He was 7-4 lifetime against Marquette, though this would be his final season with the Badgers. He was bringing in talent and people were showing up to the games to watch, but was hopeless in the tough Big Ten most years. Despite the loss, Marquette finished with a better record (16-13, 3rd in the Great Midwest Conference) than Wisconsin (13-18).

Jan. 2, 1994, in Madison

No. 17 Wisconsin 71, No. 24 Marquette 52

Finally, a clash of ranked programs in the 100th meeting between the two programs. Soon after the arrival of touted freshman behemoth Rashard Griffith, the Badgers entered the AP poll for the first time since 1976 earlier in the season. Griffith joined Michael Finley and Tracy Webster to form perhaps the most talented trio in Wisconsin basketball history. However, they ran their record to 9-0 (UW's best start 74 years) with their defense, holding the Warriors scoreless for nearly eight minutes in the second half.

Placing four players in double figures, the Badgers' stars took pleasure in throttling their in-state rivals. Shot-blocking machine Jim McIlvaine was limited to 21 minutes and fouled out for Marquette. Wisconsin played with more intensity from the start, taking a cue from head coach Stu Jackson, who placed a lot of importance on this game during his short stint in Madison. Conversely, Kevin O'Neill was quoted after the game as saying, "I don't know if it is so important to be the best in the state." A self-fulfilling prophecy if there ever was one.

Dec. 23, 1998, in Milwaukee

No. 20 Wisconsin 61, Marquette 45

The only game on this list that was played on Marquette's turf, this one was actually over by halftime, UW leading 27-10. Yup, Dick Bennett, in his third season, finally had his defensive-oriented system cooking at Wisconsin. Per usual, no single player stood out for the Cardinal and White. The team only attempted nine three-point shots. Mike Kelley played 33 minutes of dogged defense, while shooting guard Sean Mason led the charge with 15 points and five rebounds.

This was not one of Marquette's more impressive teams. The only player of note for Mike Deane was the day's leading scorer Brian Wardle, who now coaches Green Bay. Wisconsin finished the season 22-10 and would return to the NCAA tournament after a one-year hiatus. The next season, Wisconsin would win again at home, 86-74, in the highest-scoring game of the Bennett era that didn't occur in his first season. Fun fact: In that 1995-96 season, Bennett's Badgers scored over 100 points twice and at least 90 on three other occasions.

Dec. 22, 2001, in Madison

Wisconsin 86, No. 14 Marquette 63

Kirk Penney scored a career-high 33 points and young Mike Wilkinson had a double-double off the bench to propel unranked Wisconsin over Tom Crean, Dwyane Wade and a 10-0 Marquette team a year away from its own Final Four run. Despite being only 4-6 at the time, this one appeared to be over early when UW took a 16-point lead into the break. The Golden Eagles came roaring back, but only until the Badgers were ready to take the game back over in the final seven minutes.

After a rocky start to Bo Ryan's first season, this victory was a turning point for the eventual Big Ten regular season co-champs. The 23-point win remains Wisconsin's largest margin of victory over Marquette since 1949. And you read that correctly -- a team that won a Big Ten title with Devin Harris and Kirk Penney in the backcourt, where Mike Wilkinson came off the bench, was not ranked in the AP poll the entire season.

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The list has nice representation from several Badger coaches along the way, though you might have expected more out of Ryan's Badgers. Yes, Wisconsin now leads the series 65-55, but Marquette was solid under Crean and Buzz Williams. Therefore, Ryan's record at Wisconsin is only 7-6 all-time against Marquette.

Now comes Steve Wojciechowski's first foray into the rivalry. After winning decisively in 2005 and 2009, Ryan is due for another big win. With Marquette rebuilding a bit, he might just nab his first road blowout.

If history is any indication, it will come thanks to good defense and a big first half.


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