The Wisconsin men's basketball team finds itself in the exact opposite position it was a week ago today.
After shocking Duke and the nation, they were forced to come down to earth and prepare for a game against a lower-tier Grambling State team. Now, following the team's stumble against UW-Green Bay Wednesday, the Badgers need to pick themselves up and get ready for their in-state rivals to the southeast, 7-2 Marquette.
When Wisconsin (6-2 overall) was busy with the Phoenix up in Green Bay, the Golden Eagles were taking care of business against UW-Milwaukee. They defeated the Panthers 71-51 behind 19 points on 6-of-6 shooting from junior forward Jimmy Butler and 15 points on 3-of-4 shooting from behind the arc by sophomore guard Darius Johnson-Odom. The Golden Eagles forced the Panthers to turn the ball over 20 times, 13 of those coming from steals.
Marquette suits up three players averaging more than 10 points per game. Senior forward Lazar Hayward could be the most dangerous post player the Badgers have faced this season. Hayward is averaging 18.6 points and 6.4 rebounds through nine games.
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan is quite familiar with Hayward. This past summer Ryan had the opportunity to coach him as a member of Team USA in the World University Games. Hayward averaged 9.3 points and 5.6 rebounds for Team USA on its way to a third place finish.
In Butler the Golden Eagles found a player to replace some of the scoring they lost with the departure of Wes Matthews, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James. His 16.4 points per game ranks second on the team. Butler's accuracy is what makes him a pain for opposing teams. He is shooting 62 percent from the field and, though it's a small sample, 70 percent from behind the arc.
The Badgers have the ability to neutralize Hayward and Butler with their size. Junior forwards Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil have performed well against athletic post players ever since the game against Arizona when they let freshman forward Derrick Williams put up 25 points.
Marquette's trip up to Madison is also a homecoming for Wisconsin's reigning high school player of the year, Jeronne Maymon. The freshman forward played for Madison Memorial and scored eight points in the Golden Eagles win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee on 4-of-4 shooting.
The Badgers own a 62-53 edge in the series that reaches all the way back to 1917, but over the last two years the Golden Eagles hold the bragging rights, defeating Wisconsin 81-76 in 2007 at the Kohl Center and 61-58 in 2008 at the Bradley Center.
The game tips off at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.