There isn’t a single team that the Marquette Golden Eagles have faced more than in-state rival Wisconsin Badgers. Despite their familiarity and annual skirmish, this rivalry has never lost its excitement or hype.
The Golden Eagles (7-2) enter with a four-game winning-streak. They aim to maintain their bragging rights over the Badgers for another year.
As for No. 12 Wisconsin (8-1), it is tipping off its break from conference play. The Badgers have won three-straight, including back-to-back Big 10 wins over Rutgers and Iowa.
How To watch, listen, and stream
Game Time: Saturday, December 8, 2018, at 5 p.m. ET
TV: FOX (Brian Anderson, Stephen Bardo, Evan Daniels)
RADIO: ESPN Milwaukee 94.5 FM/540 AM (Marquette), 1310 WIBA (Wisconsin)
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go (where available)
KenPom expects a close one! Wisconsin is listed as a 52 percent favorite to beat Marquette, predicting a final score of 69-68.
The Badgers lead the all-time series, 67-57, but they lost the most recent meeting. Last year, the Golden Eagles went on the road and won in dominant fashion, taking down Wisconsin 82-63.
Over the last decade, Marquette and Wisconsin are dead even at 5-5.
What to Watch For
Putting aside both team’s leading players--Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ (Illinois native) and Marquette’s Markus Howard (Arizona native)--the Badgers and Golden Eagles have their fair share of in-state talent that have grown up watching the heated rivalry up close and they’ll get to participate in it, making it even sweeter. They’re very well-versed in this series, which dates back to 1917.
For Marquette, it’s the Hauser brothers. Recruiting battles between both schools have certainly fed to the rivalry. The most recent instance was when Joey Hauser decided to join his older brother, Sam, at Marquette, instead of going to Wisconsin. Joey had grown up a Badger fan, but his allegiances changed when Sam joined the Golden Eagles. He was the subject of much vitriol and hatred from Badger fans when he announced his recruiting decision. They were both top-100 prospects, and they were high school teammates with Wisconsin’s Trevor Anderson at Stevens Point.
Anderson is inactive, as he recovers from knee surgery, but the Hausers will be in action. They are the only other Marquette players, apart from Howard, averaging in double figures. Sam (14.2 points per game) is no stranger to the rivalry, but this will be Joey’s (10.2 points per game) first rodeo.
Their fellow teammate, Matt Heldt, is also from Wisconsin and grew up near Green Bay. He’s seen a role reduction--compared to last year--but has appeared in a majority of games.
As for the Badgers, Brevin Pritzl and Kobe King are key rotational players for the Badgers, getting almost 20 minutes of action per game. Pritzl was a top-100 prospect out of high school, hailing from the Green Bay area. Meanwhile, King is from La Crosse (near the Minnesota border) and is a promising redshirt freshman guard.
Marquette walk-on Cam Marotta and Wisconsin’s Owen Hamilton are other in-state players, as well. Marotta--a walk-on--and Hamilton is sitting out per NCAA transfer rules. All of these guys are very familiar with each other, on the high school/AAU circuits way before their college days.
This year’s Wisconsin seems to be a lot more balanced than the defensive-leaning squads of the last couple of seasons. According to KenPom, the Badgers are ranked in the top 20 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Happ is now a senior and a double-double machine, spearheading this team with an average of 17.7 points and 10.8 boards. The 6-foot-10 forward is also a solid rim protector, but he’s really blossomed as a passer out of the post.
While Happ does most of the damage inside, he’s also surrounded by a variety of shooters and players that can knock it down from long range, making him such a threat when defenses collapse onto him. The main perimeter and fellow primary scoring threat is D’Mitrik Trice. This redshirt sophomore is on pace to have his best season year, shattering his past production. The 6-foot guard is averaging 17.0 points per game. He’s a complete scorer, but his blistering 60 percent shot conversion rate from beyond the arc is scary.
Trice may be the team’s top perimeter threat, but he isn’t the only one. Wisconsin has some nice complementary pieces in Brad Davison, Nate Reuvers, Khalil Iverson, and the aforementioned Pritzl and King. Overall, they take great care of the ball and turn it over on just 13.3 percent of possessions (fifth-best in the country).
Defensively, they’re tough on the glass and inside. They have also clamped down on opposing perimeter play, giving their foes a tough time from long range and holding them to just a 28.7 percent mark.
Protect this House
The last thing the Golden Eagles and their fans want is to lose the first Marquette-Wisconsin game played at the new Fiserv Forum. They would very much like to christen it with Badger blood and a win, and so far this season, they’ve done well at home.
They are a perfect 6-0 in their house, a record that includes an impressive win against the Kansas State Wildcats. While they’ve fallen from the Top-25 club, they have done well as of late, winning their last four games. A win against No. 12 Wisconsin would be huge for bragging rights, but it also might catapult them back into the rankings.
This is an intriguing Marquette team. According to KenPom, this is the highest ranking Golden Eagle squad under Steve Wojciechowski in regards to defensive efficiency (51st in Division I). It’s no secret the hot-scoring and blazing offensive teams of the last couple of years had to overcompensate for their subpar defense with highlight plays and lights out shooting performances.
Like Wisconsin, this year’s Marquette team is relatively balanced. Its dedication to the defensive end has shown up so far, as it’s particularly been good at home. Opponents are scoring below 60 points per game at the Fiserv Forum, and they’ve struggled to the tune of a subpar 34.0 shooting percentage and an even worse 29.0 percent clip from beyond the arc. The Golden Eagles actually lead the Big East in FG% defense and in defensive rebounds per game (29.6).
On the other end of the court, Howard is still a walking bucket, averaging a Big East-best 22.4 points per game. The Hauser brothers have been matchup problems. Sacar Anim has had double digit scoring performances in the last couple of games. While this team has lived and died by the three in recent years, this Golden Eagle squad isn’t sinking those long range shots at the same rate--just 34.5 percent (158th in Division I).
They’ve been able to diversify their offense but in recent games have been able to find a way to get to the free throw line. Since an ugly second half collapse against Kansas--where Marquette didn’t get a single free throw attempt until the closing minutes of the game--the Golden Eagles have been making it a focal point to get to the line and convert from there. They--Howard, especially--have been getting to the line more often than before and that has been crucial to this current win-streak. So even when the three-point shots aren’t dropping, they have still been good.