Location: KFC Yum! Center – Louisville, KY
Date: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Time: 12:45 PM TV: CBS
Did you see last night’s game against Iona? Holy cow. That was one version of that game I did not expect. Just wow. But, moving on to Marquette, this seems at first blush to be an easy game plan. However, after some examination, it isn’t so simple. Marquette is a perennial NCAAT team, a regular in the Big East hunt, and has the Big East Player of the Year on the roster in the form of 6’6” senior forward Jae Crowder. He led this Golden Eagles team to a 25-7 record (14-4 Big East) and along the way, they only lost one game to a team not in the dance this year – LSU – back on December 19 in Baton Rouge.
What to watch for:
The team is quick and fast and is built much like Iona’s team in that they are a small team without a lot of depth in the rotation. They are anchored by seniors Jae Crowder and guard Darius Johnson-Odom. These two account for 47% of the teams scoring this year. They each have more than 300 points more than anyone else on the rest of the team. The team is led in assists by junior point guard Junior Cadougan at 5.5/game and the team is 7th nationally in sharing the ball. They don’t rebound well defensively, but they like to mix it up on the offensive boards and for all the success BYU had in that department this year, they have six more offensive boards than the Cougars. But on the defensive side, the discrepancy is much more with the Cougars holding a decisive advantage. The Golden Eagles are small, but they aren’t afraid to get in and mix it up.
Keys to victory:
The Cougars will do well to take two things from last night’s game against Iona. 1 – Have a short memory. 2 – Control the pace and don’t get caught in the open court track meet the Gaels pressured BYU into last night. The obvious players to watch for the Cougars will be Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies, but I think I’m most interested in watching to see if seldom-used true freshman DeMarcus Harrison can build from last night’s performance. He’ll need to if the Cougars are going to stay in this game. The Cougs can’t get down like they did against Iona because Marquette is a premier team that won’t allow that sort of second half meltdown to happen again.
My heart is telling me to pick the Cougars here in an unlikely upset. It seems reasonable to me that at least one 14 seed has to beat a 3 seed this week, so why not my Cougars? But with less than 48 hours rest, plus a travel day in the middle, add to the Noah’s bum wheel, and a strong desire for Marquette to make up for their recent Big East Tournament failure, I just can’t do it. I’ll be cheering on my Cougars, praying the prove me wrong here. To be quite honest, if the Cougars can win this one, I’ll call a Sweet 16 bid now with the winner of Murray State and Colorado State looming. But I don’t think it will be. The Cougars will play this game much like they did the Baylor game, trading leads, keeping it close, but will miss by just this much when the clock reaches 0:00. And I’ll eat my words regarding the NCAAT versus the NIT from this week’s Ask the Ineligibles.
Cougars lose a heart-breaker