It’s a busy week for Marquette men’s basketball non-conference schedule news. We already got the lowdown on what MU is doing in relation to the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, and on Tuesday, the Golden Eagles announced that they will be hosting Wisconsin-Madison on Saturday, December 5, 2020.
There’s no news about television or even tipoff time at this juncture. However, as we continue to live in a coronavirus pandemic that has Marquette altering their academic calendar for the 2020-21 school year, it’s worth noting that the announcement here says that the game will be at Fiserv Forum. The same goes for the HOF Tip-Off campus site game against Albany, by the way. Let’s go ahead and file this one under the heading “this is the plan for now” and move on, shall we?
Let’s talk about the opponent in question.
2019-20 Record: 21-10
2019-20 Final KenPom.com Rank: #22
2020-21 T-Rank Preseason Rank: #6
Head Coach: Greg Gard, entering his sixth season at Wisconsin and sixth season overall as a head coach.
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads, 68-58
Okay, so the big question right out of the gate is “Why does T-Rank have the Badgers as a preseason top 10 team?” Well, that’s an easy one to answer. Late season starter Brevin Pritzl was the only senior on last year’s Badgers team that seemed poised to snag a top four seed in the NCAA tournament after finishing in a three-way tie for the Big Ten regular season title. Pritzl was just seventh on the team in scoring, or sixth amongst guys on the active roster at the end of the year at least, chipping in 8.0 points per game along with 3.7 rebounds per game and a 37% shooting clip from behind the arc. In other words: Completely replaceable. No offense, Brevin, but in terms of college basketball from year to year, if you can’t find a dnew guy on your roster to go for 8 and 4 every season, you’re probably a bad coach.
Amongst the reasons why we can trust Greg Gard to figure out that Rubik’s Cube is because no one on the squad averaged more than the 13.1 points per game that Nate Reuvers was tossing in the hoop. When you have six guys getting between 13 and 8 points per game and five of them are coming back next year, odds are that you’re probably going to figure out how to find those extra eight points per game. The fact that you’re bringing back your top five scorers from a team that just won a Big Ten regular season title is almost secondary at that point.
I know it sounds like we’re essentially going to see the exact same Badgers team that beat Marquette 77-61 in the Kohl Center last season, but that really isn’t remotely true. First of all, Micah Potter, the Ohio State transfer, didn’t become eligible until mid-season. Given that the Badgers went 16-5 with Potter in the rotation after starting out 5-5, it’s hard to say that he didn’t make a major impact on the squad. There’s also the fact that Potter posted the highest usage rate on the team by the time the season came to an end, just barely squeaking past Reuvers by just more than a percentage point.
The other major change from last year’s MU/UW-M game is the departure of Kobe King. The 6’4” wing went for 10 points, three rebounds, four assists, and a steal against the Golden Eagles last November, making him one of six Badgers to score in double digits in that game. King left the team in late January, ultimately transferring to Nebraska.
I will say the following two statements of fact on that topic.
- King made his reasons for his departure very clear in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jim Polzin.
- The Badgers went 9-2 after King left the team, including winning each of what would turn into their final eight games of the season.
You can think whatever you want to think about those two things in connection with each other, because quite honestly, I don’t know what to say about them. All I can say is this: If the Badgers play at Fiserv like they did in the final eight games of the season, Marquette’s probably in a lot of trouble.
The athletic department also announced that we will get the full non-conference schedule on Thursday morning, so tune back in later to see what’s all on deck for the Golden Eagles before the calendar turns to 2021.