By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Dec 09, 2004 at 5:08 AM

{image1} When Marquette and Wisconsin meet, it's always a classic for state college basketball fans. This Saturday's game at the Bradley Center will be the 111th meeting between the teams.

The Badgers hold a 60-50 edge in the series. UW won last year, 63-59, at the Kohl Center. UW will bring a 5-1 record into the game. MU is 8-0.

This season's match-up should be a battle because it is at the BC. That gives Marquette a home-court advantage, but you can bet there will be plenty of red and white shirts in the house.

Neither team has stacked its pre-conference schedule with powerhouses so far, but the Badgers do seem to have played some better competition. UW's loss came at Pepperdine, always a tough place to play. The Badgers' coup so far is a 69-54 win over Maryland, who came into the contest ranked 12th in the country.

The Badgers would seem to have the advantage in the front court. Mike Wilkinson will be a load for the Golden Eagles big men. Alando Tucker would seem to have more offensive skills than any Marquette front court player can handle. But, MU sophomore Dameon Mason is a very talented swingman in a somewhat similar mold to Tucker.

Marquette would get the advantage in the backcourt, primarily because of Travis Diener, an All-American candidate. But, Diener sprained his ankle in practice Monday and scored only 10 points in 28 minutes in the Golden Eagles' 76-60 win over South Dakota State Tuesday night.

UW's Kammran Taylor and Sharif Chambliss will likely get the responsibilities for not letting Diener single-handedly beat the Badgers. They also will have to handle the pressure defense that MU coach Tom Crean likely will throw at them during the course of the game.

A key match-up could end up being between two "odd duck" players in UW's Zach Morley and MU's Steve Novak. Morley stands 6-8 and Novak 6-10, but neither are really bangers. Both have some offensive skills from the perimeter, maybe even more than down deep. If one of them has a much better game than the other, it could be a factor.

Crean and UW's Bo Ryan are both fine coaches, who have class programs. Both are very good at making adjustments during the course of games, so expect to see some good coaching.

Of course, every time the two teams meet, people cry out for a true holiday tournament that also would include UWM and UW-Green Bay. This writer has been one of those, writing columns for several state media over the years supporting such a tourney. Most people, including this writer, believe MU has been the main hang-up against such a tournament. So, outside of the Milwaukee area, you find more fans rooting for Wisconsin in this match-up.

The Badgers will come into Saturday's game ranked 22nd in the ESPN/USA Today poll. They were rated 24th in the latest Associated Press poll. Diener's ankle also could be a factor. Despite MU's home-court advantage, I'm taking the Badgers by eight.

For more on tipoff time and the TV schedule, see the Hot Tix section of this column.

Still Waiting

The lead of this column could have been a follow-up to the MLB owners' approval of the Brewers' sale to L.A. investor Mark Attanasio. But, as of Monday, when a conference call with owners had been scheduled, attorneys for the Brewers and Attanasio still had not finished the paperwork.

Representatives of both sides said they did not want to predict when the work would be ready, but they also emphasized the approval would turn out to be a "slam dunk," to mix sports metaphors.

GM Doug Melvin is proceeding as if there will be no hang-up, spending some of Attanasio's money on free agent catcher Damian Miller and reportedly dangling some of it in front of free agent pitcher Matt Clement. So, patience, always a virtue in Brewers' fans over the last 12 years, continues to be the word.

Hot Tix

The tipoff for MU vs. UW is 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Any tickets for the contest are indeed very hot and likely will have to be bought through brokers or some guy in a trench coat outside the BC.

Steve "The Homer" True and George Thompson will call the game on TV -- with WDJT 58 carrying the game locally and stations in Madison, Green Bay and La Crosse also picking it up. A pre-game show will be hosted by Rock Rote of 58. Dan Needles of WISN 12 and former MU and NBA center Jim McIlvaine will sub for Homer and George on WISN radio.

UWM travels to Valparaiso on Saturday night. The Panthers get their shot at the Badgers in Madison next Wednesday night.

By the way, UWM was ranked 10th in this week's Sagarin college basketball poll, while UW was 13th and MU 36th. Even UWM coach Bruce Pearl said he would not rate his team in the Top 10 in the country, but the Panthers are playing well and got some votes in the AP poll.

In pro basketball, the struggling Bucks host the Pacers at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the BC and travel to Philadelphia Sunday.

The Packers will try to bounce back from the humiliation last weekend in Philly. They can't afford a hangover from the drubbing because their opponents at Lambeau on Sunday are the Detroit Lions, who are not far behind in the NFC North at 5-7. Remember kickoff has been moved to 3:15 p.m. for the game.

In hockey, the Admirals travel east to meet Rochester, Syracuse and Philadelphia.

The Wave plays soccer games at Baltimore Friday night and at the U.S. Cellular Arena Saturday night against the St. Louis Steamers.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.