Marquette Golden Eagles vs. Wisconsin Badgers Pick 11/17/19
Marquette Golden Eagles (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS)
When: Sunday, November 17, 2019, 1 PM ET
Where: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.
Point Spread: MARQ +1/WIS -1 (WagerWeb)
Total: O/U 129.5
Last Time Out:
Marquette beat Purdue 65-55 on Wednesday; Wisconsin handled McNeese State 83-63 on Wednesday.
Scouting the Golden Eagles:
For Marquette, it all starts and ends with Markus Howard. Howard has picked up right where he left off at the end of last season, averaging 28 points per game during the Golden Eagles’ first two contests of the year. Against Loyola, Howard pumped in 38 points and shot over 70 percent from behind the arc, showing just how versatile his shooting range is. He’s one of the best players in the nation at any position, and odds are, he’s going to be a very high pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
But as great as Howard is, his skill can be a weakness, and certainly has been for Marquette, because it can discourage others from stepping up and adding their own contributions. Howard is an excellent player, but other than Koby McEwen, the rest of the Golden Eagles seem to have gotten a bit content to rely on his contributions and accept a relegation to a second or third option. Marquette needs to get the likes of Theo John involved in the offense, especially against a Wisconsin squad that prides itself on defense and will likely try to force Marquette to find its third option to score.
Scouting the Badgers:
Patience and defense are what make Wisconsin an annoying opponent to play against. Opponents hate facing the Badgers’ style because so few teams use it, and yet, it still works. Wisconsin is especially tough to play against in the early season because of that — unless an opponent happens to do the same thing. That was part of the equation that Saint Mary’s used to defeat the Badgers in the early going this season, and while Marquette doesn’t play anywhere near as slow as Wisconsin does, the Golden Eagles do see this style every year from their in-state rival, so Wisconsin will have to get the job done on offense as well to earn a win.
For their purposes, that means the Badgers have to continue to share the basketball well and distribute it when openings appear in the defense. Brad Davison leads Wisconsin after scoring 24 points in the win over McNeese State, but the encouraging sign for Greg Gard’s squad was that four of the five Badger starters finished in double figures and a fifth, Dmitrik Trice, added eight points. Wisconsin might not have any star players, but five players putting up 50 or more points together is a tough combination to beat.
Turnovers. Marquette has shown a tendency to cough up the ball after losing it 21 times against Loyola-Maryland in the season opener. The Greyhounds don’t exactly play great defense, but Marquette has handled the ball better against better teams than Loyola. That suggests that it was probably nerves in the opener as opposed to a real problem with ball-handling, but at this point of the season, it’s too early to tell. If Marquette can take care of the ball, it should be in good shape.
Marquette will Cover if:
The Golden Eagles are patient enough to adjust to an opponent that can take Howard out of the game and can find a way to win without him if necessary. Wisconsin’s defense can really frustrate a team that is reliant on one player to be at its best, and the Badgers are likely to do all they can to slow him down. That’s especially true given that Howard has scored 50 points in the past two meetings between the squads, and Wisconsin doesn’t want to see him destroy them again in his senior year.
Wisconsin will Cover if:
The Badgers can get themselves about ten extra possessions, either through Marquette’s mistakes or by limiting the Golden Eagles to one shot. Wisconsin is efficient at both ends of the court, and when the Badgers have things working properly, they’re pretty tough to beat. However, their lack of tempo means that they’re going to have to maximize each and every one of their possessions. If they don’t create extra chances, they’re in trouble.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Remember what I said about Wisconsin’s style? Unless you’ve seen it before, it is challenging to prepare for, and well, Marquette has seen it before. Not only do the Golden Eagles face the Badgers every single season, but Marquette is coming off a win over Purdue, which plays a very similar tempo to Wisconsin. The Golden Eagles controlled the game and held the Boilermakers to just 55 points, exactly the way you need to be able to play to beat a team like Wisconsin. Ironically, the one time Marquette has lost this game in the past four years was when the Badgers turned the tables and played an up-tempo game in a 93-84 win.
This one shouldn’t look anything like that game did. Wisconsin is its typical self, and Marquette knows how to play against that. The Golden Eagles have won three of the past four in Madison and five of eight overall, and oddly enough, Wisconsin’s last win in the series came in a building that no longer exists, as the Bradley Center’s final game in the series came in 2016.
I think Marquette is the better basketball team and knows how to play against this style well enough to win. Give me the Golden Eagles to make it three straight over Wisconsin.
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