UW, Marquette Display Different Styles and Same Winning Attitude
Both the Badgers and Golden Eagles have been legitimate teams to watch this season. They have roughly the same overall and conference records (#12 Marquette 21-5, 10-3 Big East and #15 Wisconsin 19-6, 8-4 Big Ten), paving the road for both teams to enter the Big Dance with no doubts.
Some pundits will say the Big Ten is up this year, while others will say the Big East is down. Whatever the case, both these teams have mantained a consistency over the years and fans indeed expect the same this year.
We'll start with the Badgers, who have powerhouse Ohio State controlling the Big Ten. Two weekends ago they played each other at the Kohl Center and the Badgers got the Buckeyes to play their style of basketball. Only to get wrestled to the ground and beaten in their own house.
That's how good OSU is this year. In my opinion, the Buckeyes are one of four top tier teams in the NCAA field this year(Kentucky, OSU, Syracuse and Kansas). So, for the Badgers to get beat at home by the Buckeyes was not a surprise. What is a surprise is that a Bo Ryan team has been beaten four times at home this season with 3 games still remaining in Madsion.
Ryan has gotten all he can from the likes of Jared Berggren, Frank Kaminsky, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans. And that's what Bo does. He gets the most efficiency out of guys that may not have the most talent in the nation. On the flipside of that coin however, Ryan needs to light a fire under his starting backcourt. If he can get maximum production from Jordan Taylor, who never turns the ball over, and Josh Gasser, who has a better, pure jumpshot than I think even he knows about, then this team could be a hard out for other top teams in the tournament.
Speaking of being a hard out in the tourney. The Golden Eagles, led by Buzz Williams, will certainly be that come March Madness. Buzz has these guys playing with such ferocity on defense and maximum opportunity on offense, that a lot of teams will have matchup problems when facing them.
At anytime during a game, Williams will go four, lightning fast guards and forward. I don't know if this is by design or out of shear necessity, but more times than not it works. Opponents have a hard time adjusting to the speed and quickness employed by Marquette, especially on defense.
Conversely, opponents will have an advantage on offense down in the trenches. The Golden Eagles miss center Chris Otule. And forward Davante Gardner has stepped up in a big way, but now he's going to miss some time as well. He'll be a body down low to defend big men when he comes back, but imagine if Buzz had both of those guys to go to when the Golden Eagles run into a stacked lengthy team.
Be that as it may, I still see Marquette making a run at the Sweet Sixteen and maybe beyond. They need Vander Blue and Jae Crowder to step up in a big way. And with a team that doesn't have anyone over 6' 7" right now, Blue and Crowder better show how special they can be and are.