Thursday, February 10, 2011

Marquette/Wisconsin Squeak Out Wins

It took overtime for Wisconsin to take care of business Wednesday night in Iowa, but the Badgers were still able to win 62-59 on the road. I still will never understand one thing about the Badgers, because I think they thought Wednesday night was a three point shooting contest. The Badgers were 8-29 from deep, chucking up three's whenever possible. However, the two converted attempts in overtime were very huge for this team, so maybe practice makes perfect. Jordan Taylor started off overtime with a three, and Tim Jarmusz also knocked one down to seal it for Bucky.

The loss drops Iowa to 3-9 in the Big Ten, but they could have easily won this game. They had the final look in regulation, and Bryce Cartwright missed a jumper from the baseline. It was a good look, but went a little long. Cartwright was the leading scorer for Iowa, but he could have made this a different story for Bo Ryan's team had that shot gone in.

Wisconsin on the other hand is now 8-3 in the Big Ten, and 18-5 overall. Saturday will be the big test as Ohio State comes to the Kohl Center. I really don't understand how this game isn't on at 7 or 8 at night in front of a primetime audience. The number one team in the nation is traveling to what I think is a top 5 place that I wouldn't want to play at. But Instead the game will be at 1:00 central time, right in the heart of your Saturday. For those like me who are working during the day you may have to catch the game on ESPN3.com (the television broadcast is on ESPN).

If the trend of the last eight games holds true, then you can expect Wisconsin to fall on Saturday. In those last eight games they lost, won three straight, lost again, and won another three straight. So will the trend hold up, or will Wisconsin hand Ohio State it's first loss of the year? Even with the trend that I dug very hard to discover,  I would still put my money on the Badgers in this one, because they always seem to step up in big games. Maybe they replicate the magic that the football team had earlier this season.

While Bucky has a sure shot to the Big Dance, Marquette is doing all they can to stay on the right side of the bubble. The Golden Eagles didn't need overtime to win, but they  did need a huge late second half to pull out a cheap win. Marquette also should have lost to a team that struggles in conference play, but they came back to beat South Florida 59-58 Wednesday. Marquette, a team that always seems to always play well in the first half and blow it in the second, switched it up against USF. The Golden Eagles were down 31-24 at halftime, and needed to use the second half to play catchup.

South Florida came out of the second half firing however, and Marquette was down by 16 twice in the latter stages of the game. But this team fought back and picked up an ugly win. Vander Blue started in place of Jimmy Butler, as Butler is recovering from a concussion suffered on Saturday. Butler did come in to score 12 points off the bench, and he made some shots late. Jae Crowder led the way for Marquette scoring 14 points. Marquette shot 7-19 from the free throw line, which is just awful if you want to win against good teams, but apparently good enough against South Florida. In all honesty, it wasn't a good night for the two Wisconsin teams on the road, but they each picked up a win and that's really all that matters.

Marquette will have a few days to get back in the flow of things. They are back on the court Sunday at G-Town with a noon tip central time. The Golden Eagles have two games left against ranked teams, so this will be a big game. I think if they can win at least one of those games it should give them a good resume for the big dance. They play UConn on the road February 29th, and will need to damn near win out if they drop both of these games. If they struggle down the stretch, they may need to rely on a Big East tourney run to get into the tournament. In the end, Marquette's strength of schedule from playing in the Big East should work in their favor and get them to the dance, but you can never be too sure.

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