It is with a little bit of caution that I dip my toe into the pool that is the eternal argument about college basketball supremacy in the state of Wisconsin.
I know and respect people on both sides of the question of whether Marquette or Wisconsin is the best basketball team in the state. It's important, though, to limit the discussion to the teams currently playing.
Marquette, with George Thompson and Al McGuire through Tom Crean and Dwyane Wade, has a wonderfully proud tradition. Wisconsin, from John Powless and the Hughes twins to Bo Ryan and Alando Tucker, has an equally proud tradition.
So, let's forget tradition.
Let's focus on the teams this year and let's focus on the here, now and the near future (the conference and NCAA tournaments).
The easy thing to do is say Marquette is better because they beat the Badgers in December at the Kohl Center. And they won convincingly.
But I think that's the simplistic answer to this question.
The Golden Eagles are a guard-heavy team. They don't have much of an inside presence, but they have guards to burn. Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeal, David Cubillan and Maurice Acker all bring things to the table. Those five are all in the top seven scorers this season.
The Badgers have guards, in Trevon Hughes, Michael Flowers and Jason Bohannan, but it's up front where Wisconsin really makes hay. Brian Butch, Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry are strong, mobile and very smart. They rarely make mistakes.
The Badgers startled the world last week when they committed one turnover against Michigan State. I heard one commentator say that was like Tiger Woods winning the Grand Slam in golf. That might be hyperbole, but the fact is that the Badgers do play a disciplined style of basketball that is very successful.
I'm not sure where I come down on the value of the two head coaches.
Tom Crean has matured in his years at Marquette into a fiery coach, full of passion. His Warriors are scrappy and dive for balls all over the floor. They can turn heads with their speed.
Bo Ryan came to Wisconsin fully formed as a coach. It's Bo's way or the highway. He's got his system and he wants players who play inside his system. And God knows it seems to work. I don't know if they keep statistics for this, but the Badgers probably use as much of the clock during an offensive possession as any team in the NCAA.
I also have a hard time picking which group of alums is more obnoxious. Marquette fans kill me with their sense of entitlement. They've got a little bit of that Notre Dame football fan thing going. The Badgers fans just murder me with red and with their insistence on maintaining the tradition of the world's biggest, drunkest, I can stay up later than you, party school.
So, it's pretty hard to choose a favorite between these two teams. Suffice it to say that this state has two top-flight basketball teams. We used to have three, for a brief period, but Rob Jeter has not created much magic yet at UWM.
If I had to pick either Marquette or Wisconsin in a single game right now, I'd have to go with Wisconsin. But if you made me take Marquette, I wouldn't be all that upset.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.