Stop Acting Like Marquette-Wisconsin’s Rivalry Doesn’t Exist
Wisconsin and Marquette play again on Saturday afternoon. A time-honored tradition for these two teams play in December. It’s a fun rivalry and even in Golden Eagles down years, the game has been relatively close. It’s cliche as they come, but that’s why people say ‘Throw the records out when these two teams are playing.’ This can be applied to Marquette-Wisconsin rivalry. But why do Wisconsin players, fans and writers insist this is just another game for Badgers?
Zach Heilprin of the Landof10.com wrote today about the rivalry meaning more for Marquette. Zak Showalter and Nigel Hayes made comments about the rivalry meaning very little to both of them. Heilprin adds his own spin downplaying Saturday’s affair between the two teams about Marquette pulling out all the stops for this game. The whiff of arrogance that comes across from all involved parties is something Marquette would be accused of in the years of Crean or Williams. Badgers see this game as just another Saturday afternoon game at an away venue. That part is puzzling to me. This year’s version could mean a better March resume for Golden Eagles, and Badgers get a Big East split after losing to Creighton as the conference could one of the best this year. Whether Wisconsin likes it or not, it’s a rivalry.
Steve Wojciechowski outworked Bo Ryan and Greg Gard for in-state players like Henry Ellenson and Sam Hauser, this rivalry is a little different than the days of Buzz Williams when he didn’t really go head-to-head with Wisconsin from a recruiting angle. Hayes saying it’s just another game is interesting. Let’s not forget Duane Wilson made comments disagreeing with Hayes’ actions regarding his College GameDay protest, and Nigel acts like he doesn’t want to stick it to Wilson? C’mon. Of course he does, he’s a competitor. I fully expect a tweet referring to Wilson if Badgers win, and that’ll be great. Social media plays a huge part in rivalries. Showalter acting like Marquette fans don’t show up for games other than Wisconsin when he lived 20 minutes from the arena for his childhood is hilarious and not worth dissecting because that’s just not true.
Wisconsin became a national brand in basketball in the last couple years. But Marquette has been one since the days of Al McGuire. The whole notion that Badgers’ success and Golden Eagles recent struggles led to diluting this rivalry is a stupid thought. Yes, it’s better when both teams are full bore and successful like anything else, but what makes rivalries is the records do not matter for the games itself. If Badgers had blown out Marquette in the last couple of years, sure, we could have a discussion about this rivalry fading, but Marquette-Wisconsin games were competitive including a Golden Eagles road win in 2015. Wisconsin and Marquette could be a combined 2-10, and the game would still be hard-fought and enjoyable. Let’s hope for both fanbases sake, we never see something like that in the future.
Enjoy Wisconsin-Marquette for it is, and stop trying to act like this is a Saturday stroll in the park in downtown Milwaukee.