BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Marquette @ Louisville
January 15, 2007
Marquette looks to keep their momentum as they embark tonight on a two-game road trip this week, starting on a date with Louisville on ESPN's Big Monday. Things looked better for the Cardinals last week as they raced past South Florida on the road and came back home and knocked Providence from the ranks of the conference unbeatens. Tonight is a key early conference season game for both clubs.
Here are the game preview and stories from around the internet:
Confidence Up (Lexington Herald-Leader)
Cardinals to Meet Their Match (Louisville Courier-Journal)
'Small Ball' Gives Cardinals Some Shots of Confidence (AP Story from Herald-Leader)
Marquette-Louisville Match-up Could be a Thriller (OnMilwaukee.com)
Burke Grows into Role (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Click below for our brief preview and prediction on this game and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section.
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After starting conference play 0-2, Marquette coach Tom Crean vowed publicly that his Golden Eagles would get better and Crean's Strong Words Continue to Ring True (Journal-Sentinel) as MU responded by winning on the road against Connecticut and cruising to a victory over West Virginia at the Bradley Center last week. Back at .500 in the conference, the Golden Eagles look to continue their run with a couple tough road tests this week, starting off with Louisville in Freedom Hall tonight and finishing with a trip to Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Things weren't looking too good for Louisville 12 days ago after Notre Dame beat them handily to open conference play. More injuries (Andre McGee and Juan Palacios) were headlines and the on and off again saga of Derrick Caracter continued to be the focus of the team, which had already seen three players leave the program from the end of last season (Brian Johnson, Chad Millard & Bryan Harvey) leaving the Cards hurting for depth. A trip to South Florida with the season possibly on the brink brought a change to a four-guard look and a resurgence from the Cardinals as they ran past USF in the 2nd half and returned home to beat Providence on Saturday.
In Louisville's win over Providence on Saturday, perimeter players accounted for 156 of the possible 200 minutes. In Marquette's win over West Virginia, perimeter players accounted for 151 minutes of a possible 200. So, we are going to see a pair of teams that have adopted similar philosophies in style of play, bith looking to pressure the ball on defense and pressure the defense when on offense by playing at a high speed. Earlier in the season, both teams were moving fast, but not really going anywhere as they struggled scoring points at certain times. With both teams looking to play the same style, points should not be a big concern tonight.
Both teams have depth in the frontcourt and can rotate several players behind their starting big men in David Padgett (UL) and Ousmane Barro (MU), but depending on the availablity of Juan Palacios, Louisville can go a little bigger and not lose much at the '4' position in terms of perimeter comfortability. Marquette can use Lazar Hayward and Dan Fitzgerald at the PF position, both add the threat of the 3-pt jumper and versatility to the arsenal. Louisville probably has the slight edge in the frontcourt, but it depends on Palacios' health, and he played just three minutes on Saturday, pressing Earl Clark into duty, and Clark did not play at all in their blowout win over USF.
So then we move to the backcourts. In the Big East, there is no better trio than Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews. Although each is just a sophomore, they are the more experienced trio because Louisville will start two freshmen in Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith along with senior Brandon Jenkins. I do not think the backcourt of Marquette will be forced into 26 turnovers like Providence was over the weekend at the hands of UL, but Marquette is prone to turning it over, as they have been turning it over more than 20 times a game in their last three outings. They HAVE to take better care of the ball, especially on the road, because they are not the best shooting team around.
The wildcard player in this game is Louisville sophomore Terrence Williams. Coming off a 23-pt, 12-rebound, 5-assist and 5-steal performance against Providence, he will need two strong games together for Louisville to get a win tonight. He has the athletic ability to match anything Marquette throws at him and will have to help the young guard duo of Smith and Sosa survive the ball pressure that Marquette will employ.
These games between the two teams are traditionally close and tightly contestes. The Pomery computer shows Louisville as a projected 2-pt winner and the oddsmakers have made Louisville an early 3-pt favorite. Both teams are trying to stake a claim as one of the teams competing for a Big East Tournament bye, meaning it is nearly a must-win for the home Cards. I really like their move to the smaller line-up and Terrence Williams does provide a match-up problem for Marquette in the smaller look. I worry about the UL freshmen guards in this game, but UL can go a little bigger if need be. This game truly looks like a toss-up, and I think Marquette wins a nail-biter.
NBE Blogger Prediction: Marquette 72 Louisville 70