Wisconsin has played teams that either want to lace up the racing spikes and make it a track meet or strap on the pads and slowly grind it out.
But this will be the first time the Badgers will take on a court jester when they take on Ole Miss on Friday in Wisconsin’s 15th straight NCAA tournament appearance.
Marshall Henderson isn’t your typical NCAA player. Heck, he’s not your typical anything after enrolling in his fourth college at Ole Miss in as many years. The junior guard has done everything from elbow an opponent to being arrested on a forgery charge.
Henderson is so misunderstood that he even threw ice at his own student section. Who does that?
The Badgers have seen great shooters before. Three years ago, Cornell’s Ryan Wittman went 10-for-15 from the floor and 3-for-5 from three for 24 points in an 87-69 Badgers’ second round loss. And who could forget five years ago when Davidson’s Stephen Curry burst onto the scene by shooting 11-for-22 and 5-for-5 for 33 points as the Wildcats rolled the Badgers 73-56.
But Henderson doesn’t even come within an obnoxious Gator Chomp of those two. The streaky shooter has the relentless energy of an infomercial spokesman. He has shot under 30 percent from the floor seven times this year and shot under 20 percent from distance four times.
He is pouring in 20 points a game because there aren’t many shots that he doesn’t like. He shoots an average of 15 times a game in 31 minutes. He has 139 more shot attempts than the Rebels’ second highest scorer in Murphy Holloway, but Holloway is scoring only six points less a game.
The Rebels remind me of Illinois. They are a bunch of chuckers that could make it easier on themselves if they just drove to the basket but instead they are content to camp on the perimeter and hoist it up.
Ole Miss has not played anyone close to Wisconsin in the weak SEC. The Rebels will be surprised that they will have to defend for long stretches of time and won’t fully understand how magnified each turnover by them will be.
The Rebels’ three-guard lineup will allow for senior forwards Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans to see some mismatches. Evans displayed his adept passing and post moves in the Big Ten tourney, so Bruiser must prove that the offense can operate efficiently through his hands as well.
The coaching aspect is tough to compare. In Andy Kennedy’s eighth year as a head coach, seventh at Ole Miss, Kennedy has never been to the Big Dance and has only finished above .500 in conference play twice. Bo Ryan owns a 16-11 NCAA tournament record, he has never finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten for 12 straight years and he has guided the Badgers to seven-straight 20-win seasons — the second-longest streak in the nation behind Ohio State.
Henderson has had a checkered past and has been given more than one second chance. Despite his success this year, he has reverted to flashes of his questionable behavior, which make him a lightning rod of criticism throughout the SEC.
Bruiser played defense on the more talented Deshaun Thomas in the Big Ten championship and he did it very admirably. And I would expect that Henderson would be his assignment in Kansas City. Bruiser has four inches on Henderson and is stronger than him so he’s not going to give up any ground if he tries to score in the paint as well.
The Badgers have seen this type of game numerous times. I just don’t think they’re prepared to have someone attempt a Badger Chomp against them.
To contact Cory Jennerjohn e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @CoryJennerjohn.