Wisconsin: The Badgers are 9-2, with losses to UNLV and Notre Dame, while the win over Marquette joins one over Boston College on their resume. This a very young team, with sophomores playing key roles all over. The most prominent is guard Jordan Taylor, who joins with senior forward Jon Leurer in making up UW's inside-out combination that will keep them competitive. How well they ultimately do in what promises to be a difficult Big Ten race will depend on how the rest of the kids step up. Taylor's main running mate in the backcourt of Josh Gasser, a freshman who hasn't yet distinguished himself. Sophomore forwards include Keaton Nankivil, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans. The one who's most needed is a Bruesewitz because he's more of a rebounder. Nankivil is an inside-out player similar to Leurer, while Evans is close to being a guard. Bo Ryan's going to need a lot of guys to grow up fast if he's going to get another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin only has one more game, against Coppin State, before they start conference play on December 28.
Marquette: Saturday's loss dropped them to 7-3, but all the losses have been close and to good teams, including Duke & Gonzaga. The Golden Eagles have one signature player in forward Jimmy Butler, who's averaging 16 points and 6 rebounds. But they're ultimately dependent on their backcourt, led by Darius Johnson-Odom. The Golden Eagles need other guards to help Johnson-Odom--Dwight Buycks, freshman Vander Blue and sophomore Junior Cadougan are names that will have to become more familiar to the good people of Milwaukee if this team is to be successful. They also need a post player, but it looks like that's a fond wish without a solution. Marquette has a challenging trip to Vanderbilt on December 29 and starts up Big East play with a New Year's Day home date with West Virginia.
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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.