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Wisconsin Badgers vs Marquette Golden Eagles 2018 basketball preview

Two prominent in-state programs face off on Saturday afternoon at the brand new Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee as the Marquette Golden Eagles host the Wisconsin Badgers.

Wisconsin (8-1, 2-0 Big Ten), now ranked No. 12 in the latest AP Top 25 poll, pulled off a five-point victory over Rutgers on Tuesday night. That same night, Marquette (7-2, 0-0 Big East) topped UTEP in a 76-69 win at home. On Dec. 1, the Golden Eagles knocked off then-No. 12 Kansas State in a 83-71 victory.

The big name to watch for Marquette is junior guard Markus Howard, who has already scored 37 or more points twice this season through nine games.

Wisconsin leads the all-time series 67-57, but Marquette owns a 39-29 advantage with games played in Milwaukee. The Badgers will prepare to avenge their 82-63 loss at the Kohl Center last year.

Team stats

  • Points per game: 76.2
  • Opponents’ points per game: 66.4
  • Field goal percentage: 45.6 (237 for 520)
  • Opponent field goal percentage: 39.0 (212 for 544)
  • Three-point percentage: 34.5 (80 for 232)
  • Free throw percentage: 75.9
  • KenPom.com team rank: 34
  • KenPom.com adjusted offensive efficiency: 111.8 (27th in nation)
  • KenPom.com adjusted defensive efficiency: 96.2 (51st in nation)

Notable Golden Eagles to watch

  • Junior guard Markus Howard: 22.4 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, 4.8 assists per game; scored 45 points vs. Kansas State
  • Junior guard Sam Hauser: 14.2 points per game; 6.2 rebounds per game
  • Redshirt freshman forward Joey Hauser: 10.2 points per game; 5.8 rebounds per game

To help us break down Marquette further, our friend Robert O’Neill from Big East Coast Bias answered some of our questions.

Marquette sits at 7-2 through nine games this season. How has this team looked compared to incoming expectations for the 2018-19 season?

It’s been kind of a strange year for Marquette because their defense has been very good and the offense hasn’t yet, which is a direct contrast to every other team Steve Wojciechowski has had. The offense has started to catch up in the past couple weeks, but things were rough in the first portion of the season.

We always ask this—who will guard Ethan Happ and how can they contain him?

I don’t know if there’s a way to guard Ethan Happ, per se. Marquette is probably best served just letting him get his shots off and hoping their threes fall on the other end. Three is more than two. *Extreme Scott Steiner voice* THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE, AND THEY SPELL DISASTER FOR WISCONSIN!

Markus Howard—WOW. A great start to the season with averaging 22.4 points per game while grabbing 4.6 rebounds per contest. What makes him so special?

I’ve watched probably 90 percent of games that have been played in the “New Big East” and outside of Doug McDermott and Trevon Bluiett, I haven’t seen someone with Markus Howard’s scoring ability. He’s impossible to defend, an elite three point shooter (he’s only shooting 35 percent this year. Once that corrects itself to his career average of 47 percent, everyone is in even more trouble), not afraid to drive the line and draw contact (Howard made a Marquette-record 19 free throws in the Golden Eagles’ win over Kansas State last weekend), and can take the game over in a hurry. The biggest key for Wisconsin is finding a way to take Howard out of the equation.

Wisconsin fans know about the Hauser brothers—Sam and Joey. How have they contributed to the team early on, and who are other names Wisconsin fans should know?

Sam and Joey Hauser have been the second- and third-best players behind Howard as they’ve both lived up to the hype. Sam Hauser in particular has made big strides since arriving on campus to become a tremendous two-way player for the Golden Eagles, and you can really see where enrolling early and spending extra time around the team benefitted Joey. Theo John is another name to be aware of, as he’s one of Marquette’s preeminent big men. He’s only played around 17 minutes per game this year, but his block percentage and offensive rebounding percentage both rank in the top 150 players on KenPom, so he makes the most of the time he’s on the court.

Where does Marquette have the advantage in this matchup, but vice versa, where does Wisconsin have the upper hand?

Aside from Happ, Wisconsin doesn’t have much in the way of rebounding, so perhaps this could be a spot where Theo John is really able to shine. I also worry about Wisconsin being able to keep up in the case of Marquette getting hot from beyond the arc. The Badgers aren’t exactly built to shoot and make threes at will. On the flip side, though, Wisconsin is the team it has been for years: a methodical bunch that is patient and takes smart shots while limiting possessions. Kind of like Virginia with fewer losses to 16-seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

Brand new arena. An in-state rivalry/I-94 battle—who ya got this year?

I think I have to go with Marquette. KenPom has it as a coin flip at the moment and that seems about right. Give me the Golden Eagles due to home court advantage.



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