The season ticket renewal mailer already spoiled this one, but today’s non-conference schedule announcement will be the yearly contest against The Red Menace. This year’s tilt against Wisconsin will be at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10th.
Saturday, December 10th: vs Wisconsin
2015-16 Record: 22-13, 12-6 in the Big Ten, 0-2 vs D1 teams from Milwaukee
Returning Points Leader: Nigel Hayes, 15.7 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Ethan Happ, 7.9 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: Nigel Hayes, 3.0 apg
Final 2015-16 KenPom Ranking: #33
Total honesty here: I was shocked to find out that Nigel Hayes led Wisconsin in assists last season. It’s not a "oh, Nigel had X and Bronson Koenig had X-1" scenario, and it’s not a "technically so-and-so had more total assists, but Nigel missed six games and so his average is better" situation, either. Hayes finished the season with 20 (!) more assists than Koenig. Who saw that one coming??
Well, maybe we all should have seen it coming. Historically speaking, Wisconsin’s actually a terrible passing team. In the entirety of the KenPom era, they’ve ranked in the top 100 in assist rate (% of baskets that had an assist) just once. The Badgers ranked 88th in 2012-13, which you might remember as "the year Marshall Henderson knocked them out of the tournament in the first round." I know I do. No, I don’t care that Henderson was 6-21 in that game, I’ll remember it exactly how I want to remember it.
This will be Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard’s first game against Marquette in the big chair. As you might recall, former head coach Bo Ryan quit his job after losing to UWM and Marquette in the same week, but not before lasting long enough to get one final win, a "closer than it probably should have been" 64-49 victory over Texas A&M Corpus Christi. This means, of course, that Gard is winless in his career against Marquette, while Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski is undefeated both at the Kohl Center AND against Greg Gard. What a time to be alive.
This is the usual "Saturday before Marquette’s finals" slot for the game, so who knows when the next game will be. In the first two years under head coach Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette has not played a game on the Saturday immediately after finals, as they had in the several years previous. With Christmas Eve/Christmas Day falling on a Saturday/Sunday and Big East play starting on the 28th, we might end up seeing a reversal of that trend. Keep your eyes and ears open tomorrow morning, y’all.....