Friday, December 2, 2011

Opening Tips: Marquette vs. Wisconsin

Darius Johnson-Odom looks to lead Marquette to 7-0 start tomorrow against Jordan Taylor and Wisconsin. (Photo courtesy of MSG Network)

The 118th battle of Wisconsin is once again upon us in the college basketball world, and it comes in another year where the annual collision between Marquette and Wisconsin is overshadowed by another marquee game on the national slate. While the world will be paying attention to North Carolina and Kentucky earlier in the day, (and rightfully so) those in the Midwest will be especially interested in the clash between the Golden Eagles and Badgers. For people like me that live in New York and do not have the Big Ten Network, I would seriously appreciate it if any of you who read this would be kind enough to provide me with a link to an online stream, be it the Marquette feed or the Wisconsin feed. Anyway, from the Kohl Center in Madison, we preview the two combatants, starting first with the lords of the four jerseys. I'm not sure what color the former Warriors will be wearing tomorrow, but I'm personally hoping for the light blue or the gold.

No. 16 Marquette Golden Eagles (6-0)
Head Coach: Buzz Williams (4th season at MU, 75-37; 89-54 overall)

Projected Starting Lineup:
G Junior Cadougan (6-1 Jr., 7.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 43% FG, 64% FT, 6.3 APG)
G Darius Johnson-Odom (6-2 Sr., 19.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 57% FG, 47% 3pt, 77% FT, 3.7 APG, 1.3 SPG)
G Vander Blue (6-4 So., 10.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 51% FG, 38% 3pt, 74% FT, 4.5 APG, 2.5 SPG)
F Jae Crowder (6-6 Sr., 19.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 59% FG, 44% 3pt, 76% FT, 1.7 APG, 1.5 SPG)
C Chris Otule (6-11 Jr., 6.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 60% FG, 60% FT, 2.0 BPG, 1.0 SPG)

Key Reserves:
G Todd Mayo
(6-3 Fr., 8.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 50% FG, 44% 3pt, 80% FT, 1.2 APG)
F Davante Gardner (6-8 So., 7.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 62% FG, 81% FT)
F Jamail Jones (6-6 So., 3.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 42% FG)
F Jamil Wilson (6-7 So., 3.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 45% FG, 75% FT, 1.2 APG, 1.2 BPG)

Keys To Victory:
- Come out firing. Wisconsin will look to slow the pace down to their methodical, grinding style that they put on full display Wednesday night against North Carolina. For a team like Marquette that averages 88 points per game, such a contrast in style will be a detriment for the Golden Eagles if Wisconsin can have their way with the tempo in the opening minutes. Marquette has earned the reputation as a high percentage shot-taking team, shooting 53 percent from the field. This track record of intelligent possessions may showcase a Golden Eagles team that could take some mid-range jumpers to combat the bombers on the Wisconsin side of the ball that shoot 44 percent from beyond the arc.

- Home sweet home. Sophomore guard Vander Blue is a Madison native that was also recruited by Wisconsin before deciding to sign with Buzz Williams and suit up in the blue and gold. Blue returns to his hometown for the first time in his collegiate career, and will get a grand homecoming by being the primary matchup against star Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor. However, don't expect the second-year player to do it alone. Said coach Buzz Williams in his pregame press conference when asked about Taylor: "I think he puts you in a position that makes many people have to guard him." Expect Junior Cadougan to also have his share of Taylor in matchups, which will show the world yet another special facet in the Canadian's game.

- Defense wins championships. In this case, it will win bragging rights considering how Wisconsin plays and what the Badgers bring to the table. Wisconsin has averaged 71 points per game through their first seven contests; but they have yielded only a mere 42, with their season high being the 60 they surrendered to North Carolina Wednesday night in Chapel Hill. Buzz Williams has already addressed this issue with his team, instructing the Golden Eagles to "play great defense in the first 25 seconds of the shot clock," and "even better" over the final ten. If Marquette can contest any open Wisconsin shot, (the Badgers will more than likely maximize the shot clock on either side of the ball) the road to a victory becomes clearer and smoother.

Defending their home court, we have the...

No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (6-1)
Head Coach: Bo Ryan (11th season at UW, 248-92; 631-195 overall)

Projected Starting Lineup:
G Jordan Taylor (6-1 Sr., 12.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 39% FG, 39% 3pt, 59% FT, 5.6 APG, 1.1 SPG)
G Josh Gasser (6-3 So., 8.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 54% FG, 65% 3pt, 80% FT, 2.1 APG)
G Ryan Evans (6-6 Jr., 9.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 44% FG, 33% 3pt, 60% FT, 2.0 APG, 1.9 BPG, 1.3 SPG)
F Mike Bruesewitz (6-6 Jr., 6.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 40% FG, 39% 3pt, 70% FT, 1.9 APG)
F Jared Berggren (6-10 Jr., 12.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 55% FG, 39% 3pt, 67% FT, 1.1 APG, 1.6 BPG, 1.6 SPG)

Key Reserves:
G Ben Brust
(6-1 So., 12.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 50% FG, 47% 3pt, 50% FT, 1.4 APG, 1.1 SPG)
F Frank Kaminsky (6-11 Fr., 3.6 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 56% FG, 36% 3pt, 33% FT)
G Rob Wilson (6-4 Sr., 3.1 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 50% FG, 50% 3pt, 100% FT)

Keys To Victory:
- Let the game come to them. Their style may not be the most attractive to basketball fans, but Wisconsin knows how to win. There is no other way around it. The Badgers have worn down all seven of their opponents this season with their grinder mentality; and although their most recent contest against North Carolina ended with the Badgers on the short side of the box score, Wisconsin took the Tar Heels to the limit for forty minutes without once allowing the preseason favorites to win the national championship to drive away when it looked like Carolina established some sort of control in the second half. Marquette is unfortunately not as talented as Roy Williams' squad, yet their claim to fame is that they have always been a deceptively strong foe that is always a tough out regardless of when one draws them on their ledger. If Wisconsin can force the Golden Eagles off their game and capitalize on the rare instances in which Marquette turns the ball over, (they only average 13 miscues per contest) this game has the potential to get real ugly right away.

- Floor general. Jordan Taylor is arguably one of the best point guards (maybe even players) in the nation, and perhaps his most impressive statistic is the senior leader's near-6:1 assist to turnover ratio. Through seven games, Taylor has racked up 39 assists; yet only turned the ball over a mere seven times, or once per game. Marquette will most likely start out with Vander Blue matched up on Taylor, but expect to see Junior Cadougan paired up with his counterpart at the point. It would come as no surprise to see Taylor double-teamed throughout the contest, which actually helps Wisconsin since Taylor is gifted enough to find more than one open option in that scenario.

- Play a complete game. Wisconsin has a proficient (an understatement) three-point shooting unit which has a collective clip of 44 percent from beyond the arc, good enough for 13th in the nation; and average only eight turnovers on a nightly basis. The Badgers are just as good, if not even better, on the defensive side of things. Through seven games, Wisconsin has yielded a nation-low average of 42 points per contest; and the 32 percent clip their opponents have managed from the field is third-best in the country. That latter statistic will come into play a lot more tomorrow with Marquette coming into the Kohl Center shooting 53 percent as a team.

So, Who Wins?

Most people insist Marquette will have to play a seemingly perfect game to defeat Wisconsin. However, as North Carolina showed the nation Wednesday night, better defense will negate good defense from the opposing team; and the Golden Eagles have always been one of the better defensive teams in the Big East, regarded as the best conference in college basketball. Wisconsin will have another big nonconference showdown against UNLV at home next Saturday, so the sense of urgency for the Badgers is at a season high, as Wisconsin does not want their next game (Wednesday against Wisconsin-Green Bay) to be one where the team comes in on a two-game losing streak. Marquette has an even bigger test immediately following their latest encounter with the Badgers, taking on Washington Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in a pivotal nonconference battle for both teams. It won't be the most visually pleasing forty minutes to a casual college hoops fan; but for the die-hards, it will be one of the best games of the year to this point, and one in which the little engine that could gets over the line first in a true battle of attrition. Wisconsin drops a close one at home to the Golden Eagles, who will move to 7-0 for the first time in five years.

Your Final: Marquette 61, Wisconsin 56

2 comments:

  1. hey bud what a call on the outcome, very impressive.

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  2. Thanks man...I listened to Homer and Mac off an iPhone (I don't have the Big Ten Network in New York City) and couldn't believe how close it ended up. Hell, part of me was kind of hoping Wisconsin got a cheap layup or a couple of foul shots at the end just to hit it dead on. Statement win for Buzz in Madison without Junior and with Jae in foul trouble...if they're not a Top 10 team tomorrow, I'd be very surprised. Thanks again for the support!

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