Five Point Play V10: Badger Edition

Junior forward Mike Bruesewitz is one of three Badgers averaging 5.0 rebounds per game or more. Photo by Megan McCormick/Badger Herald

On Saturday Marquette has arguably its biggest non-conference game of the year as it goes to battle with inner-state rival Wisconsin in Madison.

While the No. 9/7 Wisconsin Badgers (6-1) enter Saturday on the back of a 60-57 loss to No. 5/5 North Carolina. The No. 16/16 Marquette Golden Eagles (6-0) are still undefeated but have gotten into offensive funks during stretches of the previous two games.

To help us paint a better picture of this game, we asked our peers from the University of Wisconsin (Mike Fiammetta of The Badger Herald and Max Sternberg of The Daily Cardinal), who cover the Badgers, to partake in this Five Point Play.

1. Tempo will be a key factor Saturday. Which team will struggle more if it needs to play at the other team’s pace?

Mark Strotman, Marquette Tribune: Wisconsin will struggle more to keep up with Marquette’s tempo if the game turns into a track meet than if/when Wisconsin slows the pace down to the half court. Buzz Williams has installed an underrated half court offense that caters to penetrating guards, Jae Crowder’s inside-out game and Chris Otule/Davante Gardner in the post. If Marquette gets out and scores points on the fast break with ease, then Wisconsin will have no answer.
Max Sternberg, Daily Cardinal:At the beginning of the year, I would have said Wisconsin. The Badgers have historically struggled to handle up-tempo games and last year was no exception. But after watching Wisconsin run a bit during this season, I have to say Marquette. The Badgers have proven themselves capable of running when necessary, granted not against a top-25 team like Marquette. They dominate slow games that stay in the half court. If this game stays in the 50s or even the 60s, Marquette is in serious trouble.
Alex Jesswein, Marquette Hoops: I think Wisconsin would struggle more with a higher-paced tempo than Marquette would playing at a slower-paced tempo. Wisconsin plays at THE slowest tempo in the country according to Kenpom and has yet to play in a game at a higher pace.  With Marquette having played a slower paced game against Norfolk State in the Paradise Jam, I think it will have a better grasp of playing at the other team’s tempo.
Mike Fiammetta, Badger Herald: The Badgers traditionally consume a majority of the 35-second clock before attempting a shot. But this season, Wisconsin has shown an ability to get down the floor, thanks largely to Jordan Taylor’s superb ball distribution and the emergence of Ben Brust and Josh Gasser. Wisconsin can always play its traditional “slow game,” but if it can push the ball against Marquette as well, the Golden Eagles could struggle to keep up.
Mike Singer, CBS Sports: Marquette will have the more difficult challenge if the game is played at Wisconsin’s preferred, deliberate pace. Everyone knows Marquette averages 88.0 ppg. Many of those points have come on fast breaks and transition offense.  With Jordan Taylor at the helm, the Badgers rarely turn the ball over and live for slowing the pace down and drawing out possessions.  This simply doesn’t favor Marquette.  Wisconsin can turn up its tempo if need be. Wisconsin is shooting threes at an absurd 47.3 percent and has had games of 85, 77, and 73 points.
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2. Which matchup is most important?

Mark Strotman, Marquette Tribune: Jordan Taylor vs. whoever guards him. North Carolina’s Dexter Strickland did an excellent job blanketing the preseason All-American for much of the night, and Marquette guards will have to do the same. I can’t see any scenario where Vander Blue guarding Taylor ISN’T the best option for the Golden Eagles. But, regardless of who is guarding Taylor, that’s the matchup that needs to be won. Al McGuire said it best, “If you cut off the head, the body dies.”
Max Sternberg, Daily Cardinal: Down low. Chris Otule has a small leg up on Jared Berggren in terms of experience and prior success, but Berggren has played as good as any “five” in the country this year. Berggren can play inside or out, something not in Otule’s repertoire. Tempo will play a big part in this matchup but I think it’s safe to say that there is a good shot the winner of the battle down low will walk away with the victory.
Alex Jesswein, Marquette Hoops: I think the point guard matchup between Junior Cadougan and Jordan Taylor will have the most profound impact on the game.  It’s no secret that Cadougan struggles to contain opposing guards on the defensive end.  Taylor, being a preseason All-American, I’m sure recognizes this and will try and exploit this matchup.  If Cadougan can do an admirable job on Taylor and maybe get him in foul trouble on the other end, Marquette’s chances of winning will greatly increase.
Mike Fiammetta, Badger Herald: Though his scoring numbers are down from last year, any opposing team will be tasked with keeping up with Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor. Taylor’s averaging 12.0 points per game and is shooting 39.2 percent from the floor this season. He is averaging 5.6 assists per game and turns the ball over just 1.2 times per game. Junior Cadougan will keep pace with him in leading his team as, if not more, efficiently.
Mike Singer, CBS Sports: Obviously, Marquette’s hopes hinge on keeping pre-season All-American Jordan Taylor under control.  He is the lynchpin of Wisconsin’s offense. I assume Vander Blue will handle those responsibilities as he is long and lanky for a guard and the best defender on the team. Blue is averaging 2.5 steals per game and his value Saturday will not be on the offensive end.  The other factor in play is Derrick Wilson,  the tenacious defender who’s built EXACTLY like Taylor.  If the game is played at Wisconsin’s pace, high scoring won’t be a factor so Wilson will see ample time on Taylor.
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3. Wisconsin reporters, explain a flaw of Wisconsin’s that Marquette can exploit. Marquette reporters do likewise for Wisconsin. 

Mark Strotman, Marquette Tribune: Three-point shooting. Marquette has really struggled rotating defenders to the weak side when opponents drive and are double-teamed in the paint. This has resulted in far too many open looks from beyond the arc and, while teams like Norfolk State and Jacksonville didn’t knock them down, Wisconsin surely will. The Badgers had an off night against beyond the arc against North Carolina before catching fire late (8-of-28). Don’t expect that to happen a second straight game, especially if Marquette is allowing open looks.
Max Sternberg, Daily Cardinal: Wisconsin never turns the ball over, and that’s why even a six-game total of 57 turnovers (just over 8.1 per game) is a number that coach Ryan and the Badgers would like to improve upon. Marquette’s athleticism could force many Wisconsin turnovers by pressuring ball handlers on the defensive end. If Marquette can convert this sliver of a weakness on the part of Wisconsin into winning the turnover battle, the Golden Eagles have a good shot to head back to Milwaukee with a victory.
Alex Jesswein, Marquette Hoops: Two areas really jump out at me — three-point shooting and offensive rebounding.  I’ll go with three-point shooting as the bigger concern, mainly because opponents haven’t made the Golden Eagles pay.  Marquette seems to be slow in its rotations defensively– especially off of ball screens — and teams just haven’t really made them pay yet (shooting 30.4 percent on 3-pointers).  Meanwhile, Wisconsin has been blazing hot from beyond the arc, shooting 47 percent.  I have a hard time seeing the Badgers miss a whole lot at the Kohl Center, so it is definitely a cause for concern.
Mike Fiammetta, Badger Herald: Stunningly — especially for a Bo Ryan team — the Badgers have struggled from the free throw line this season. Wisconsin has converted just 62.1 percent of its shots from the charity stripe, down from last year’s record-setting 81.8 clip. That’s sure to improve as the season progresses, but if Wisconsin is forced to win this game at the line, its recent struggles there could become a mental factor.
Mike Singer, CBS Sports: Three point defense. The Golden Eagles’ opponents have shot an average of 22 3-pointers per game.  The Badgers have shot threes at a 47 percent clip.  Josh Gasser (15-of-21) is shooting 71.4 percent from beyond the arc. The game will hinge on whether the Badgers are knocking down their 3-pointers after long, tedious routines of screen, pump-fake, roll, screen, pass, pass, shot.
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4. Which team would gain more from a win Saturday?

Mark Strotman, Marquette Tribune: Marquette. Simply put, visiting teams rarely leave the Kohl Center victorious. The only player on Marquette’s roster to beat the Badgers is Chris Otule, and he didn’t play in that game due to a foot injury. This would be a huge boost for the team and would finally give the Golden Eagles well-deserved national media recognition. It won’t be easy, but a win Saturday could jump-start Marquette into a special season.
Max Sternberg, Daily Cardinal: There is no doubt that the Badgers need this one. They are expected to win at home no matter the opponent. With a tough matchup against UNLV Dec. 10, Wisconsin cannot afford a bad start to the home stand. But even though Wisconsin has the most to lose, there is no doubt that Marquette has even more to gain. Winning in Madison is no small feat. If Marquette wins it will serve as a serious boost heading into Big East play.
Alex Jesswein, Marquette Hoops: Marquette.  Both teams have a similar number of games against high major or ranked teams so it’s not as though one team desperately needs it over the other.  That being said, Marquette would have more to gain as a non-conference top-10 road win would do much more for its NCAA Tournament resume than a Badger win would do for Wisconsin.
Mike Fiammetta, Badger Herald: Any game at the Kohl Center, Wisconsin is expected to win. Thus, if Marquette can come to Madison and leave with a win, the Golden Eagles would gain a tremendous early NCAA Tournament resume booster. After facing Marquette, Wisconsin doesn’t face another ranked team until it faces No. 15 Michigan Jan. 8, and that would a long time to go between facing quality competition after losing at home.
Mike Singer, CBS Sports: I believe Marquette would gain more from a victory on Saturday.  Not many teams, as Buzz said, win in the Kohl Center. Bo Ryan’s record there is 157-11.  It would do a lot for the team’s confidence, especially because it has yet to play a quality opponent. A win in a hostile environment, for a team that is quickly gelling, only solidifies the trust each teammate has in each other.
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5. Game prediction, MVP, and a surprise player.

Mark Strotman, Marquette Tribune: The Golden Eagles can’t adapt to the slower pace and fall into an offensive funk that we have seen at times this year. Wisconsin wins the game 71-63, and your MVP is redshirt junior forward Jared Berggren. A year ago, Jon Leuer had 17 points and six rebounds in the Badgers’ win, and Marquette still doesn’t have an answer to a 6-foot-10 shooter. A player who will surprise is Marquette’s Jamil Wilson. His defense will be key to keeping the Golden Eagles in the game.
Max Sternberg, Daily Cardinal: The defensive intensity of Wisconsin combined with the presence of Jordan Taylor will prove too much. Wisconsin pulls away for a 67-56 victory. Taylor will be the MVP. The Badgers will be a bit sluggish after the North Carolina trip, but eventually Taylor will put Wisconsin on his back like he has done time after time while at the helm in Madison. Josh Gasser will be a difference maker. It might not pop out in the box score, but Gasser will play a prominent role in the highlight reel when this one comes to a close.
Alex Jesswein, Marquette Hoops: Like usual, I think it will be an ultra-competitive game that comes down to the final few minutes.  One of the things touched on earlier — tempo — could be the deciding factor on Saturday afternoon.  I think Marquette will play Wisconsin really close, but too many open 3-pointers for Brust and Gasser will put the clip the Golden Eagles’ wings in a 67-62 Wisconsin win.  Jordan Taylor will be the MVP, leading Wisconsin in scoring and assists while the play of Mike Brusewitz on the glass cause havoc for Marquette all afternoon.
Mike Fiammetta, Badger Herald: 68-59, Wisconsin. MVP: Mike Bruesewitz. Surprise player: Ben Brust.
Mike Singer, CBS Sports: Full disclosure. I graduated from Wisconsin in May and am fortunate to have a job, let alone an awesome job involving instate rival Marquette. With that said, I’ll go with the Golden Eagles 70-67. Blasphemous. No one wins in the Kohl Center. Marquette’s offense is stellar. The defense has two components — Blue and Derrick Wilson – that can harass Taylor to no end. I think Jae Crowder will be the MVP as he stretches Wisconsin’s big men to the three-point line.  Surprise player will be Todd Mayo. Wisconsin doesn’t know about him. He admitted after the Jacksonville game that he didn’t know about Wisconsin. The Badgers won’t be prepared for him when DJO gets a breather.

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One Comment on “Five Point Play V10: Badger Edition”

  1. Tim
    December 3, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    I find it hilarious that in question 1 the Wisconsin reporters claim that UW is running more this year. Their tempo this year is more controlled and slower than ever before, if such a thing is possible. kenpom.com has their possession counts at 58,59,55,62,64,60, and 61. Marquette’s slowest game 64 possessions. Wisconsin had only 58 possessions in the game where they scored 85 points. They were able to score 85 by shooting an unreal effective field goal percentage of 93% (15/25 on threes will do that for you).

    I think slowing it down is the dominant strategy in that slower teams have an easier time bending other teams to their will than faster teams, and I don’t think there’s a realistic way for MU to speed up the game with UW’s experience and discipline. They need to take their chances on the break if/when TOs come but if they try to force the tempo they’ll end up taking bad shots. Rather, they need to establish Otule/Gardner down low on offense to open up room on the perimeter for the shooters. O/G need to stay out of foul trouble on the other end, which will be difficult with UW’s roaming bigs.

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