Wisconsin vs. Marquette: Who Has the Advantage?
Two years ago, Marquette (7-2) ended Wisconsin's (6-2) 28 game home winning streak at the Kohl Center with an 81-76 victory. Last season at the Bradley Center, an unranked Marquette team topped the #22 ranked Badgers 61-58. Eye popping to me is how even this series has been in the last 8 years. Each team has won 4 games. The Badgers have averaged: 67.3 PPG while shooting 44.8%. The Golden Eagles have averaged 66.1 PPG while shooting 42.5%. Marquette has out rebounded Wisconsin 33 RPG to 30.
With the above as a backdrop, who has the advantage in this year's chapter of the cross state battle? I realize that 'teams' win games and not individual players, but I still think it's worth while to analyze player match ups as a starting point. Oh, and I'm not gonna play the "what if" game....it negates all the analysis. This is designed to be an "all things equal" exercise. It's easy to say "if Buycks and Maymon can score 15 apiece and grab 8 rebounds," Marquette will win...or "If JBo can knock down 7 three's, the Badgers will dance on State Street." OK - enough with the quotes (and parenthetical information), all things being equal, here's how I see it:
POINT GUARD: Trevon Hughes vs. Maurice Acker
Two senior guards who rely on quickness, work to find the open man, and can hit the open 3. What separates Hughes is his ability to attack the rim, take a game over, and play in the post. Hughes is averaging 24.3 PPG in the past three games and will default to the shooting guard role when Jordan Taylor is on the floor. Acker is a steak knife...a good shooter, but not a lot of dimension to his game. Hughes is a Swiss Army knife.
SHOOTING GUARD: Jason Bohannon vs. David Cubillan
Two more senior guards who have played in plenty of big games. Bohannon scores a bit more, but overall their numbers are fairly similar this season. While their calling cards are the outside shot, both have been streaky at best. Neither player is built to take a game over, but both are capable of being dagger casters - hitting the biggest shot in the game.
FORWARDS: Tim Jarmusz, Jon Leuer, Keaton Nankivil vs. Lazar Hayward, Jimmy Butler, Joe Fulce
Both teams start three forwards. Jarmusz and Butler are both listed as G-F, but Butler is much more versatile on the offensive end and plays bigger than his listed 6'6" size. He's a junkyard dog. Jarmusz's strength is his intelligence and on-ball defense. Overall, I think Butler has the advantage.
Leuer and Hayward are do-it-all type players. They score, rebound, put the ball on the deck and get to the foul line. Similar to Butler, Hayward plays bigger than his listed size, while the 6'10" Leuer looks like a swing man at times with an effective shot fake and drive to the basket. Both are very skilled. I'm not sure how much either will guard the other, but while Leuer is a tough match up, Hayward is capable of taking a game over.
Fulce is another junkyard dog type, but less skilled than Butler. He'll get the start, but won't get many minutes as Buzz will look to the bench early. He's tough as nails and a decent defender, but not a threat on the offensive end. Nankivil is a poor man's Leuer. A little smaller, good shooter, good defender, good finisher - the Badgers seem to operate at a higher level when he's on the floor. Nankivil gets the one-on-one advantage here, but Fulce won't be on the floor much.
ADVANTAGE: This is tough...I think the style of game will dictate the advantage. On the surface, the Badgers get more even production from the three forwards who start, but Hayward is the only player on the floor (with the exception of Hughes) who can go off for 30 and carry a team.The Badgers will have problems with Hayward and Butler when they start outside and attack the hoop. Conversely, Marquette will struggle to consistently defend the post. Given the nature of the swing, the Badger forwards will find their way beyond the arc at times, and Marquette's forwards are well equipped to defend against it. I think an argument can be made either way, but I'm giving a slight advantage to....Marquette.
BENCH: Jordan Taylor (G), Ryan Evans (F) vs. Darius Johnson-Odom (G), Dwight Buycks (G), Jeronne Maymon (F)
DJO is a really nice bench player for Buzz Williams. He gets starter minutes (about 25 per game), scores 12 PPG and shoots the three better than advertised (55%). He seems to play with an urgency that can be felt by anyone watching...he's constantly moving. He's adjusted from the junior college game to the division 1 game better than Buycks, who has shown flashes of being a very nice player, but has been inconsistent. Maymon is averaging about 13 minutes per game, but has yet to assert himself or create an identity. That being said, he's a freshman getting valuable minutes and that's a good thing for Marquette.
Taylor and Evans get the bulk of the bench minutes for the Badgers. They have a couple young bruisers who Bo will go to in certain situations, but given Marquette's quickness, I'm not sure they'll see the floor for more than 5 minutes. Taylor has been outstanding as a PG off the bench. He's allowed Bo to slide Hughes to the SG position and Bohannon to the third guard when opposing a smaller, quicker lineup. Taylor is strong, good with the ball, and is adept at breaking down a zone. Evans is raw on the offensive end, but is an incredible athlete and defender. At 6'6" he'll likely see time guarding both Hayward and Butler...he's good enough to make things difficult for both players, but forces things on the offensive end. In my mind, he'll be the best athlete in the gym on Saturday and have the worst haircut.
ADVANTAGE: I think the players I listed above are a wash, but I'm giving the slight advantage to Wisconsin because they have the ability to go deeper with their bigs and get good production.
COACHES: Bo vs. Buzz
I really like Buzz and think he's building something special at Marquette, but since he's been in Madison, Bo Ryan has the best winning percentage in Big Ten history (Bobby Knight is second); has three Big Ten titles, two Big Ten tournament titles and has never finished worse than fourth in the conference.
The home court advantage is an automatic plus for either team. In this instance, WI holds the advantage. I think another thing that benefits the Badgers is the amount of minutes this team has logged together on the court over the years. There's something to be said about team chemistry and WI has it.
Marquette comes into this game with players that WI has seen on tape, but only a small handful they've played against. Video can only show you so much. It's not until you play a team that you really get a strong feel for the kind of player they are. Marquette is much more familiar with the Badger players than the Badgers are with the MU players.
Both teams have had a degree of early season success, but I think the Badgers have the advantage in this match up. Marquette may not have an answer for Hughes, and the Badgers may not have an answer for Hayward, but the Badgers have shown better balance so far this season, and have been able to win despite a great effort from a star player. I do think Marquette will continue to positively develop over the course of the season, but at this stage of the season, the Badgers hold the overall advantage.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 71 Marquette 66
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