1: Bronson Koenig: 6-3 190 lb SR PG: 27.6 mpg, 15.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.3 tpg, .454 FG%, .857 FT%, .337 3P%
2: Zak Showalter: 6-3 185 lb RSSR SG: 26.2 mpg, 6.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg, 0.9 tpg, .407 FG%, .786 FT%, .273 3P%
3: Vitto Brown: 6-8 235 lb SR PF: 21.3 mpg, 7.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.4 bpg, 1.5 tpg, .500 FG%, .500 FT%, .385 3P%
4: Nigel Hayes: 6-8 240 lb SR PF: 27.9 mpg, 12.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.5 bpg, 1.7 tpg, .442 FG%, .642 FT%, .333 3P%
5: Ethan Happ: 6-10 232 lb RSSO PF: 25.1 mpg, 13.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.7 spg, 0.9 bpg, 2.5 tpg, .707, FG%, .500 FT%, .000 3P%
D’Mitrik Trice: 6-0 178 lb FR PG
Khalil Iverson: 6-5 212 lb SO SF
Alex Illikainen: 6-9 232 lb SO PF
Jordan Hill: 6-4 172 RSJR SG
Charles Thomas IV: 6-8 252 lb SO PF
Andy Van Vliet: 7-0 224 lb SO C
Brevin Pritzl: 6-3 195 lb RSFR SG
Aaron Moesch: 6-8 226 lb RSJR PF
TJ Schlundt: 6-5 191 lb RSSO SG
Matt Ferris: 6-6 200 lb RSSO SG
Aleem Ford: 6-8 208 lb FR SF (Redshirting)
Michael Ballard: 6-4 194 lb FR SG (Redshirting)
• To nobody’s surprise, Wisconsin ranks in the bottom 5 teams for adjusted Tempo per KenPom. By contrast, Marquette ranks in the top 25.
• The secret to Wisconsin’s success is in it’s rebounding. They are top 75 in the country of both offensive and defensive rebounds per game, a combination that gives them the 13th most total rebounds in the country. Wisconsin wins by giving themselves extra possessions and limiting those opportunities for their opponent.
• Another area Wisconsin is elite in is not being called for fouls. Despite having a physical, rebounding team, the Badgers rank in the top 10 for least fouls per game at 15.1. This shouldn’t bother Marquette much as they don’t rely on getting to the line at all.
• Defense is a key indicator for the Badger’s success. They have held opponents to season low point totals in 8 out of 10 matchups this season. They are 8-0 in games when holding opposing teams under 40.5% from the floor and 0-2 when they don’t. This bodes well for Marquette as they have eclipsed that mark in all but one contest this season.
• Reigning Big 10 Player of the Year Nigel Hayes is who makes the Badger offense run. He sits at the top of key and facilitates the infamous Badger swing offense. Hayes had a rough start to the season but has completely reworked his approach during this four game win streak. Hayes has almost completely stopped shooting three pointers, going 2 for 2 over four games. His first six games he went 9 for 31. This new passing and post oriented Hayes has been much more efficient and effective.
• Point guard doesn’t mean much in the swing offense but Bronson Koenig is a lethal weapon for the Badgers. His 15.8 points per game lead the team. Koenig ranks in the top 30 players for 3PM and top 15 for attempts. His 33.7% average isn’t overly impressive. Koenig deals a lot more damage off the dribble and with his pull up game.
• It wouldn’t be Wisconsin basketball if there wasn’t a big white guy wreaking havoc in the paint. This year that white guy is Ethan Happ. Happ has been abusing opposing post players since he finished his redshirt year. He is averaging a double double and has 8 straight games of double figure scoring. Happ doesn’t have much in speed and he has literally never scored a FG outside of the paint. However, he has elite level footwork and post moves and can score almost at will. His 70.7 FG% is proof of that. Hard doubling is an option but Happ is more than happy to pass out to open shooters on the perimeter.
At the beginning of this season, few would have given Marquette any chance going into this game. A torrid offensive start for the Golden Eagles has given both Marquette fans and national pundits a little more hope for the Golden Eagles. KenPom projects this as a one point loss for Marquette. The key to making up that 1 point will be controlling the tempo. Despite a new guy in the top spot, the Badgers still play the most unbearably slow and plodding style of basketball ever conceived. If Marquette turns the game into a track meet they will win this game. If Marquette tries to play the Badgers’ game it will end very poorly. To make it a track meet, Marquette will need to make the Badgers uncomfortable on offense. This is where JJJ’s skillset could become very useful. Putting him on Showalter, or whoever the worst offensive player on the floor is, will free him up to disrupt passing lanes. A season ago, Cheatham did an excellent job bothering Koenig and forcing him into bad shots. Happ on Fischer is a problematic matchup but one that needs to happen. Fischer needs to push Happ outside of the paint. If Happ gets the ball a hard double from whoever is guarding the worst shooter will be necessary to shut him down. If Showalter or Koenig win the game by shooting threes, so be it. The last piece of the defensive puzzle is Hayes. In last year’s matchup, it was Sandy Cohen who played the Nigel stopper. With him shipping off to Green Bay, the closest player in size and skillset is….gulp…Katin Reinhardt. Despite his offensive struggles, Reinhardt has been one of Marquette’s better on ball defenders. If Katin can play solid defense and force Nigel into some old bad habits, while not being a liability on offense, Marquette might just have a shot in this game. Marquette has some good things going but a lot must go right for them to pull off the upset. Wisconsin wins a close one.