Name: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Enrollment: 44,413 students, with 30,361 undergraduates
School Colors: Cardinal and white, officially, but no one is going to yell at you if you say red and white.
Why “Badgers?” Wisconsin was dubbed the “Badger State” because of the lead miners who first settled there in the 1820s and 1830s. Without shelter in the winter, they had to “live like badgers” in tunnels burrowed into hillsides. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from there to naming the sports teams of the flagship university after the state’s nickname.
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Notable Alumni: Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig; hockey players Chris Chelios, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, and Hilary Knight; professional poker player Phil Hellmuth; US women’s soccer star Rose Lavelle; Olympic speed skater Eric Heiden; Academy Award winner Don Ameche; Jerome Chazen, co-founder of Liz Claiborne; film composer Alf Clausen; actress Carrie Coon; astronaut Jim Lovell, best known as the commander on Apollo 13; actor Tom Wopat, best known as Luke Duke on The Dukes Of Hazzard, children’s author Kevin Henkes, perhaps best known for Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse; actress Joan Cusack; actress Jane Kaczmarek; William S. Harley, founder of Harley-Davidson; Ben Karlin, Emmy winning producer of The Daily Show; Donald Goerke, the inventor of SpaghettiOs; Steven Levitan, co-creator of Modern Family, amongst other television shows; director/producer Michael Mann; author Stephen Ambrose, probably most famous for Band Of Brothers, the book that inspired the HBO mini-series; directors/producers David & Jerry Zucker, best known for their work on Airplane!; and finally, Mary Brunner, member of the Manson Family and ex-girlfriend of Charles Manson.
Last Season: 23-11, with a 14-6 record in the Big Ten. After losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament, they earned a #5 seed in the NCAA tournament and were promptly shelled by Oregon.
Final 2018-19 KenPom Ranking: #16
This Season: 2-1, with a season opening neutral site loss to a ranked Saint Mary’s team, and then closer-than-they-should-have-been home wins over Eastern Illinois and McNeese State.
Current 2019-20 KenPom Ranking: #50
Points: Brad Davison, 16.0 ppg
Rebounds: Nate Reuvers, 8.0 rpg
Assists: D’Mitrik Trice, 2.3 apg
Shooters? Generally speaking, we want to limit this conversation to guys who perform above a certain baseline. Obviously, the baseline in question is that magical 33.3% mark, at which point your effective field goal percentage on three-point shots flips over 50%. Through three games, Wisconsin has one player shooting better than 33.3% from distance, and that’s Brad Davison. He’s 4-for-10 on the year for an even 40% after coming into the year as a career 35% shooter. Obviously there’s questions to be asked about whether that’s a hot streak or an improvement, but for now, Marquette has to take him seriously.
Aleem Ford leads the team in attempts with 15, but he’s only shooting 27% after hitting 29% a year ago. He shot 41% as a freshman, so there’s not even a middle ground to point at to say “well, that’s the real Aleem Ford.” Brevin Pritzl and D’Mitrik Trice have both launched 12 times from long range, and they’re shooting 25% and 33% respectively. Trice shot 39% from long range a year ago on 195 attempts, and Pritzl hit 41% of his 78 tries a year ago as well. Both of those guys will probably end up fine, but right now, it’s not going well for them.
Bigs? At 6’11”, Nate Reuvers is the only chap over 6’8” that’s played minutes worth mentioning thus far this season. He comes in averaging 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 4.7 blocks per game through UW’s first three contests. It’s still early, obviously, but KenPom.com has him as a top 300 rebounder on both ends of the court and #8 in the country in block rate. For comparisons, with nine blocks in 55 minutes, Theo John is #10 in the country in block rate. This is all a big jump up in performance from Reuvers from last season, but that’s because he was starting alongside the now graduated Ethan Happ. While Reuvers may be playing a more traditional #5 role than he was last year, he’s still going to step outside and shoot some threes, averaging 2.7 attempts per game and hitting 25% thus far this season. He shot 38% a year ago, so I would imagine that would continue to be part of the gameplan for the Badgers.
Aleem Ford is the next biggest guy getting rotation minutes for Wisconsin thus far this year, starting all three games and averaging 26 minutes per at 6’8”. As mentioned a moment ago, his primary focus offensively seems to be at the arc, although his attempts are split 50/50 inside and out. If Theo John and Ed Morrow are going to swap back and forth on Reuvers, then Marquette will have their choice of guys to defend Ford or whoever else ends up playing the four for Wisconsin.
Injury Note: Kobe King suffered an ankle injury during practice on Monday. He sat out Thursday’s contest against McNeese State, but King told 247’s Evan Flood that if it had been Marquette instead of the Cowboys, he would have at least tried to play. King is a 6’4”, 205 pound guard who averaged 12.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in UW’s first two games of the season. He played in every game a year ago for Wisconsin, coming off the bench in all but one of them. King averaged 4.2 points and 2.1 rebounds in 19 minutes per game a year ago, but he played a season low nine minutes in MU’s overtime victory over the Badgers at Fiserv Forum.
Head Coach: Greg Gard in his fifth season as head coach and fourth full season after taking over mid-year in 2015-16 when Bo Ryan just up and quit his job (almost) immediately after losing to UW-Milwaukee and Marquette in back-to-back games. Gard is 82-48 as a head coach and has been gainfully employed by the state of Wisconsin in one fashion or another since 1993.
All Time Series: Wisconsin leads, 67-58. Marquette has won the last two meetings and three of the last four, as well as each of the last two meetings at the Kohl Center in Madison.