Name: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Enrollment: 47,932 this fall, with 33,506 undergraduates
School Colors: Cardinal and white, officially, but no one is going to yell at you if you say red and white.
Appropriate use of names: It’s hard to argue with their decision to call the red “cardinal” since, as AE Editor Emeritus Rubie Q once pointed out, Wisconsin fans have become the St. Louis Cardinals fans of college sports.
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.
Potential Alternative Nickname: Popcorn Skunks
Notable Alumni: John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club; former Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig; hockey players Chris Chelios, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, and Hilary Knight; John L. Savage, chief engineer of Hoover Dam; professional poker player Phil Hellmuth; US women’s soccer star Rose Lavelle; Arthur C. Nielsen, Sr., founder of the Nielsen television ratings company; Olympic speed skater Eric Heiden; Academy Award winner Don Ameche; Harry Crane, head of television at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce; 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; 14 Nobel Laureates; Donald Goerke, the inventor of SpaghettiOs; Tom Skilling, meteorologist for WGN in Chicago; 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.
Campus Traditions: Pretending that they own the complete and full rights to House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around,’ interrupting graduation ceremonies to play ‘Jump Around’ because they think they own it, yelling at teenagers on Twitter because said teenagers don’t want to go to their school, illegally acquiring shoes, yelling at teenagers on Twitter because said teenagers changed their minds about going to their school, getting paid millions of dollars to trip and fall, failing to help a star player play a home game as a senior, microwaving parrots, quitting your job in the middle of the busy part of the year, failing to out-slow Virginia, spending hundreds of dollars on custom clothing and then being sad that no one noticed, missing the NCAA tournament for 46 consecutive years and then pretending that never happened after making the tourney for 10+ straight years, burglary, being a millionaire and calling teenagers soft, harassing stenographers who are just trying to do their damn jobs, being a pantsless freak who Facebook stalks women and as a result has no friends on campus, punching basketballs into teammates’ faces, and finally, using Photoshop to try to pretend that they have a racially diverse campus.
Last Season: 18-13, 10-10 in the Big Ten, lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to eventual champion Baylor.
Final KenPom.com 2020-21 Ranking: #14
Final T-Rank 2020-21 Ranking: #12
This Season: 6-1, fresh off a 70-66 victory at Georgia Tech on Wednesday night.
Current KenPom.com Ranking: #28
Current T-Rank Ranking: #33
Returning Stats Leaders
Points: Brad Davison, 10.0 ppg
Rebounds: Tyler Wahl, 4.3 rpg
Assists: Brad Davison, 2.4 apg
Current Stats Leaders
Points: Johnny Davis, 19.3 ppg
Rebounds: Johnny Davis, 5.7 rpg
Assists: Johnny Davis, 2.7 apg
Bigs? Johnny Dav.... okay, no, wait, that doesn’t work, I just got in a rhythm there. Wisconsin is getting 35 minutes a night from their two 7-footers on the roster. Sophomore Steven Crowl (7’0”, 217 lbs.) starts and gives the Badgers 25 minutes a night along with 8.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He’s also attempting nearly three long range shots a night, and at 25%, he should probably stop.... right after getting seven more of those out of his system on Saturday afternoon. Senior transfer Chris Vogt (7’1”, 260 lbs) is getting the other 10 minutes a night, but all he’s really doing out there is rebounding to the tune of 3.9 per game.
Should we include Tyler Wahl here? The Minnesota native is 6’9” and 220 pounds and has the best offensive and defensive rebounding rates on the Wisconsin roster... but neither of them are good enough for top 500 national rankings from KenPom.com. Ben Carlson is 6’9” and 218 pounds, so I’m starting to think that both he and Wahl are more Tall Guy than Big Guy.
Shooters? As a team, absolutely not. Wisconsin is currently shooting just 30.1% from long range and 46% inside the arc according to KenPom. Those rank #262 and #257 in the country respectively and combine to give the Badgers the #275 effective field goal percentage.
Marquette is going to have to keep their eyes on two guys, though. One is Lorne Bowman, a 6’2” freshman out of Michigan. It’s early in the year and he only plays 12 minutes a night, but he is hitting 58% of his 12 attempts so far. Bowman has shot either 3-for-4, 1-for-2, or not at all in every Wisconsin game this season, including a 50/50 split in his eight minute stretch against Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
The other guy to watch out for is the guy that Marquette was watching out for anyway, and that’s Johnny Davis. Mr. Do-It-All is cashing 39% of his 4.3 long range attempts per game this season and has drained at least one three-ball in all but one of the six games he’s played this season. Davis is already just 10 attempts away from hitting his freshman year total, and he hit 39% of those, too.
Noted Fly In The Ointment Brad Davison is a career 36% three-point shooter, but he’s off to a 16-for-51 (31%) start to this season. That 31% is after going 5-for-9 against the Yellow Jackets last time out, so he was only at 26% before UW’s visit to Atlanta. Davison is the only other Badger shooting over 30% this season, so if he’s in the process of heating up, Marquette is going to need to corral him something fierce.
What To Watch For: Marquette wants to create deflections. Generally speaking, deflections lead to turnovers. Marquette hasn’t had a defensive turnover rate lower than 13% this season, and their median TO% is 19.3%. Wisconsin has yet to have an offensive rate turnover rate north of 17% this season. One of these two trends is going to end up holding steady on Saturday. Whichever one does will determine who wins. Either Wisconsin uses their careful ball control to make up for their poor shooting yet once again or Marquette forces them into so many dead possessions that the Badgers can’t recover.
It is worth noting that Wisconsin’s only loss of the season came in a game where they only turned it over on 11% of possessions, their single lowest game of the season..... but they also didn’t have Johnny Davis for that game.
Head Coach: Greg Gard, in his sixth full season and seventh overall at Wisconsin. He has a record of 124-71.
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads, 68-59.