This is Bo Ryan’s 15th season at Wisconsin, and entering the year, the Badgers had lost a grand total of eight games in the Kohl Center against non-conference competition.
It just wasn’t something that happened.
On Saturday, Wisconsin suffered their fourth loss of the young season to Marquette, the third time in the season’s first four weeks that they have taken a loss at home. This one may have been the most painful, as a Wisconsin comeback came up short, 57-55, against in-state rival Marquette.
Superstar freshman Henry Ellenson finished with 15 points, 11 boards and four assists while Luke Fischer chipped in with 12 points and eight boards for the Golden Eagles as the dup combined to take 27 of Marquette’s 46 field goal attempts. Marquette shot just five threes on Saturday. That matters for this group for two reasons:
1. The combination of Ellenson and Fischer is as good offensively as any front line in college basketball. They need touches, and when Marquette funnels their offense through them, the Golden Eagles actually have a chance of being pretty good.
2. Marquette’s guards have not consistently shot the ball well from beyond the arc, but they did consistently get those threes up in bunches this year. They shot 30 threes in a 28-point home loss to Iowa, including a 2-for-19 start. They can make threes when they play inside-out. They are not what you would call a three-point shooting team, and, at least on Saturday, it looks like Steve Wojciechowski has driven that point home.
Marquette doesn’t have any standout wins yet this season, but they have now beaten LSU, Arizona State and Wisconsin with their only losses coming against Belmont — not a bad loss — and Iowa. Their non-conference schedule is awful weak, so they’re going to need to put together some wins over the top-shelf teams in the Big East if they want to go dancing. But Marquette is in a position to make that happen, which isn’t exactly something that was expected in October.
As far as the Badgers are concerned, this just doesn’t look like a group that’s going to be able to turn things around in Big Ten play. They don’t have enough balance offensively. Nigel Hayes no longer has the advantage of pulling bigger power forwards away from the basket now that he’s essentially playing as a small forward. Bronson Koenig is struggling as the lone creator in Wisconsin’s back court.
Those two combined to shooting 7-for-29 from the floor on Saturday.