At this time a year ago, Marquette's Todd Mayo was the difference-maker in a rare home loss for the Badgers at the Kohl Center. The Golden Eagles were able to limit Jordan Taylor, which was also key for Buzz Williams' squad.
The last time that Bo Ryan and company came to Milwaukee, in 2010, the road team once again came away victorious. The contrasting styles that these two in-state rivals play are what makes this such an intriguing matchup.
Wisconsin utilizes the swing offense, a slow pace of play with many shots coming late in the shot clock. Marquette has more of a run-and-gun style, pushing the ball up court and fast breaking but sometimes struggling in a half court offense.
Both teams certainly bring toughness though, which starts at the top from their head coaches. Both teams came into 2012-13 with high expectations, and while neither team has necessarily been disappointing, they haven't been overly impressive either.
Saturday's winner should have a boatload of confidence, as well as statewide pride, throughout the final weeks of non-conference play leading into league games. Will the road team have continued success, or will the Golden Eagles extend their winning streak in this series to two?
Traveon, son of former Ohio State Buckeye star Jim Jackson, recently won the starting point guard position over George Marshall, who started in his place the season's first few games. Jackson is averaging 4.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in just under 22 minutes per game. Jackson has only shot 4-for-16 over the past three contests.
Marquette's floor general has more experience than Jackson, that being the senior Junior Cadougan. Though not a prolific scorer, Cadougan currently averages 6.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists. Cadougan is also on a shooting slump at 5-for-20 in the past four contests. At 6'1" and 205 pounds, Cadougan isn't afraid to get physical with smaller matchups.
Edge: Marquette (Cadougan)
After coming off the Badger's bench last season behind Jordan Taylor and Josh Gasser, Brust has now become both a prolific scorer and rebounder in his new role, averaging 13.7 points and 7.8 rebounds despite standing only 6'1". Brust has hit 10 three-pointers in the past three games and is converting on 45 percent from deep on the year.
Former Wisconsin commit Vander Blue has also taken on an increased role as a junior, thanks to the graduation of Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder. Blue was named to the All-Tournament Team in the Maui Invitational and averages 12.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists. In Marquette's last game, nine days ago at Florida, Blue was the only engaged Golden Eagle as evidenced by his 20 points.
Edge: Marquette (Blue)
Ryan Evans' numbers are nearly identical to a year ago, as he's putting in 10.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per night. Aside from having one of the better flat tops in college basketball, Evans has been a model of consistency in both the scoring and rebounding categories. At 6'6", Evans is able to play both the small and power forward positions.
While Trent Lockett isn't matching the statistics he put up in his three years as a member of the Arizona State Sun Devils, he now has the chance play for a winning team. The all-around senior from Golden Valley, Minnesota is averaging 8.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 steals. Lockett has yet to shoot above 50 percent in any game this year, despite shooting 50 percent for all of last season.
Edge: Wisconsin (Evans)
After a scary injury in fall practice, Bruesewitz should feel lucky to be on the court Saturday evening. The always-reliable defender averages 6.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists, but those numbers don't do his game justice. Bruesewitz is 6'6" but is found playing on the perimeter, as most Badger players are, even with his poor outside shooting numbers.
The 6'7" redshirt junior from Racine was given high expectations coming into the season, hoping to somewhat fulfill the role Jae Crowder did a year ago. Wilson averages 9.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists, but struggled recently. Against Florida last week, Wilson's stat line read three points on 1-for-8 shooting, along with five turnovers in 26 minutes. He'll need to be better on Saturday.
Edge: Marquette (Wilson)
Berggren, a redshirt senior, has improved each season since coming to Madison and is reaping the benefits as arguably Wisconsin's best player. Berggren is more athletic than he appears, has a sweet stroke from a 6'10" big guy, but also can get physical if need be. Berggren's season averages are as follows: 14.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocked shots. Needless to say, I'm a fan of his game.
Chris Otule returned to the Golden Eagles starting lineup this season, after missing a majority of the 2011-12 campaign. Otule is a defensively minded player, but found his scoring average up to a career-high 7.3 points, along with 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 block per game. Expect to see Otule and Davante Gardner split time at center on Saturday, as they usually do.
Edge: Wisconsin (Berggren)
Bo Ryan always gets the most of his players and recruits certain players to fit his playing style: the slow-paced swing offense and tough hard-nosed defensive mentality. No one has been more consistent than Ryan during his time in Madison, shown by a top-four finish in the Big Ten standings every season since becoming head coach. This year may have to be his best coaching job yet to keep that streak alive.
Buzz Williams has taken Marquette to back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances, but the team has needed an adjustment period after losing their top two players last year to the NBA. This Golden Eagles team may not have the same star power as a year ago, but they have enough experienced veteran weapons to get the job done.
Expect to see Sam Dekker be the biggest contributor off Ryan's bench on Saturday. Frank Kaminsky and George Marshall will also see the floor. For Marquette, their leading scorer comes off the bench in the man pictured above, Davante Gardner. Sharpshooter Jake Thomas, sophomores Derrick Wilson and Juan Anderson and freshman Steve Taylor Jr. will all be a part of Williams' 10-man rotation.
Predicted Score: 65-62