The newest Marquette men’s basketball non-conference announcement is the one true constant in the schedule: a contest against Wisconsin, with the 2017 iteration coming to you live from Madison on Saturday, December 9.
Saturday, December 9, 2017 - at Wisconsin Badgers
2016-17 Record: 27-10 (12-6 Big Ten)
Returning Points Leader: Ethan Happ, 14.0 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Ethan Happ, 9.0 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: D’Mitrik Trice, 1.7 apg
Final 2016-17 KenPom Ranking: #21
FUN FACT: Outside of Ethan Happ, Wisconsin returns no one who averaged more than six points a game nor four rebounds per game. Hell, outside of Happ, D’Mitrik Trice, and Khalil Iverson, Wisconsin doesn’t return anyone who played more than 250 minutes last season. Alex Illikainen is the only thing stopping me from saying 200 minutes there, and he played a grand total of 33 minutes after February 1st last season.
With all of that said, it would be foolish to not expect Greg “He’s so boring that I yawned while typing his name” Gard to pull some kind of whackadoodle miracle out of thin air and turn this thing into an NCAA tournament team come March. Happ is a solid starting point as he comes off a season where he was one of KenPom’s 10 most efficient players in the country. The question becomes whether or not the Badgers will be able to get Happ the ball in advantageous positions, as the 6’10” Illinois native isn’t exactly well known for creating his own shot. It’s one thing to rely on Happ to be the focal point, it’s another thing to expect Happ to do all the heavy lifting now that Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes are done with college.
Of course, if things want to go the other way and Wisconsin misses the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1998 thus causing Badger fans to scream for Gard’s head on a silver platter, well, I’m not exactly going to lose sleep if that happens.
Marquette is 56-67 all time against Wisconsin with the two teams splitting the last 10 contests down the middle evenly.