After a rough start to the season including losses at home against Belmont and Iowa, Marquette seems to have found form. They enter Saturday's rivalry against Wisconsin on a six-game winning streak including a victory at the FanDuel Legends Classic in Brooklyn. With only a few key nonconference games remaining, their matchup against Wisconsin is integral to building the Golden Eagle's NCAA tournament résumé.
Their opposition, Wisconsin, has had a confusing season to say the least. They began the season ranked, but stumbled on the season's opening night at home against Western Illinois. Losses against Georgetown and Oklahoma are expected and explainable, but following the two up with a win away at Syracuse surely is not. To bewilder Badger fans even further, head coach Bo Ryan and Wisconsin recently fell to in-state rival and Horizon league member Milwaukee.
In a matchup between two teams who have each played odd seasons to say the least, here is what you need to know about Saturday's game.
How to Watch, Listen, or Stream
Gametime: 1:30 p.m. ET
Stream: Streaming is available via the WatchESPN app where available.
Odds: Wisconsin is favored by 7 points via OddsShark.
Record ATS: Marquette (4-4) || Wisconsin (6-4)
3 things to watch
1. Marquette's inside-out play
With two star big men in junior Luke Fischer and freshman phenom Henry Ellenson, Marquette thrives when they utilize their big men to their strength. The two average a combined 31.3 points per game and shoot a collective 56 percent from the field. Playing against a Wisconsin team who has struggled to defend the interior since the departure of Frank Kaminsky, Marquette must place an emphasis on their two post scorers to have success against Wisconsin.
2. Nigel Hayes vs. Henry Ellenson
In possibly the matchup with the most talent, Saturday's game will see freshman star Henry Ellenson face up against Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes. The two forwards both like to utilize their athleticism and strength to dominate the post, but also threaten defenses with a 3-point capability off the pick and roll. Hayes, a junior from Toledo, Ohio, dominated Milwaukee in the previous game with 32 points and seven rebounds in a losing effort. He has scored in double figures in every game this season, including three 20-plus point games. Elenson will need to put forth his best defensive effort if he wants to interrupt Hayes' dominating run.
3. Marquette's turnover woes
The Golden Eagles have struggled to take care of the ball so far this season. They average a total of 15 turnovers a game. They rank 235th in turnover percentage with 19.8 percent, according to KenPom.com. With their only true point guard a freshman, this may be due to Marquette's lack of leadership at the point, but still, the Golden Eagles must take care of the ball if they want to win Saturday against a Bo Ryan team that loves to capitalize on their opposition's mistakes.