No. 12 Wisconsin visits rival Marquette
MILWAUKEE -- It's not quite Duke-North Carolina, Georgetown-Syracuse or Indiana-Kentucky but the in-state rivalry between the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University has quietly developed into one of the nation's best over the last decade.
"This is an incredible rivalry," Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said earlier this week. "What makes it unique and different from the Duke and North Carolina rivalry is you only get to play one time. Most likely.
"If you lost your first game to Carolina, you always had a chance to get it back a few weeks later. In this rivalry you have to sit on it for a year, which is not necessarily nice."
The teams will meet for the 125th time Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee. Wisconsin (8-1, 2-0 Big Ten), ranked No. 12 coming into the game, holds a 67-57 edge in the all-time series -- which dates to 1917 -- but is looking for payback after a 19-point loss to the Golden Eagles (7-2) in Madison a year ago.
"We went in and kind of had our way with them," Golden Eagles junior Sam Hauser, a native of Stevens Point, Wis., said. "The atmosphere is going to be insane. A sold-out house. You can't ask for much more."
Wisconsin's biggest task Saturday will be finding a way to contain Marquette sharpshooter Markus Howard. The 5-foot-11 junior guard is averaging 22.4 points per game this season and has 45 combined points in his two career games against Wisconsin, including 23 last season.
"He's a good player," Gard said. "He's slippery, he can score in transition, he scores off ball screens from 3, he gets by you and gets in the paint, shoots a lot of free throws. He's not one-dimensional, so that makes it more of a riddle to solve.
"It's going to take a team effort, it won't be just the matchup or the individual that gets assigned to him. It'll be their team against our team and vice versa. But Markus is a good player, there's no doubt. He's not the only one."
Brad Davison and D'Mitrik Trice are likely to get much of the work defending Howard Saturday, but the Badgers will also need to pay close attention to Hauser, who's averaging 14.2 points this season, and his brother, Joey, who's scored 10.2 per game.
Wisconsin should have a definite advantage inside where senior Ethan Happ, averaging 17.7 points and 10.8 rebounds will face off against a front court of Theo John, Ed Morrow Jr. and Matt Heldt, a group that's been prone to foul trouble this season.
"He's really crafty," Heldt said of Happ, who head coach Steve Wojciechowski called a "front-runner for national player of the year" honors. He can do a lot of different things with the ball. I think you just have to ready, you have to be in a stance.
"If you're doing something wrong, he's going to exploit it."
Marquette's victory a year ago marked the fourth straight victory for the road team in the series. The Golden Eagles haven't beaten Wisconsin in Milwaukee since a 60-50 decision on Dec. 8, 2012.
Updated December 8, 2018