Wednesday, January 24, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Seton Hall @ Marquette

January 22, 2007

Fresh off knocking Pittsburgh from the spot as the lone unbeaten team in the Big East, Marquette needs to put that emotional high behind them and gear up for the energetic Seton Hall Pirates when they visit the Bradley Center tonight. At 4-2, only one game seperates the Golden Eagles and the 3-3 Pirates in the conference standings.

Here are the pregame stories and previews found on the internet:

Golden Guards Will Challenge Seton Hall (Star-Ledger)
MU Starts New Year Off Right (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
James, Marquette Get Groove Back (Journal-Sentinel)
Seton Hall-Marquette Scouting Report (Courier-News)

Click below for our brief preview and prediction on this game and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section.


This might be an interesting match-up as both teams have their strength in their guards. We all know about Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews from Marquette, but Eugene Harvey, Jamar Nutter and Larry Davis, along with Paul Gause, would really like us all to get to know them better, and what better way would that be when they play Marquette. Both teams have lightning quick point guards in James and Harvey with ball-hawking defensive perimeter players in Gause and McNeal. Davis and Mathews both bring smooth games to the swing guard position and excellent size. Both teams even have a sweet-shooting guard in Nutter and David Cubillan of Marquette. These teams nearly mirror one another in how they are put together, but Marquette's group has a little more experience since they have all been starting for two years together and have been very successful in their time.

The rest of the line-up is where Seton Hall might have to make their mark. Brian Laing is SHU's leading scorer and rebounder and will be facing Dan Fitzgerald and Lazar Hayward at the forward spot. It was Fitzgerald's clutch 3-pt shooting that was the overlooked key to Marquette's win over Pittsburgh, if he finds room and buries the jumpers, expect a tough time for Seton Hall to keep up. Marquette also has the clear advantage with the improving Ousmane Barro in the middle, even moreso now that Seton Hall has lost Gran Billmeier for the season. John Garcia still has a ways to go to get into full game-shape and Stan Gaines gives up way too much size. The Pirates will try to press and trap, but the Golden Eagles should be able to handle it with their talented guards.

I think this game will be closer than many think with Marquette being a 14.5-pt favorite, which agrees with Pomeroy's prediction of a 15-pt win for MU. They have too much of an advantage inside with Barro and some depth to let Seton Hall steal it, but the Pirates will keep coming at them.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Marquete 83 Seton Hall 72

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Monday, January 15, 2007

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.


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

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: West Virginia @ Marquette

January 13, 2006

The surprising West Virginia Mountaineers take their 1-3-1 zone on the road again as they visit the Marquette Golden Eagles in a Big East conference game this afternoon. West Virginia suffered their first conference loss earlier this week at Notre Dame. Marquette dropped their first two conference games but rebounded with a win over Connecticut this week.

Marquette has been susceptible to zone defenses and they will see one constantly today from the Mountaineers. However, it is not your ordinary zone, it is the 1-3-1 that gives opponents fits because it is so unique to prepare for. West Virginia will hope to continue to force Marquette into turnovers and that they will settle for outside jumpers against the zone. When the Golden Eagles are in the open floor and getting to the rim, they are very tough to stop. If you can force them to settle for the long-range shot, they can struggle offensively. Ousmane Barro will have plenty of chances near the hoop, can he duplicate his strong outing against Connecticut?

The young Mountaineers feel pretty upbeat after falling short against Notre Dame. They were able to settle in on the road and make it a very close game and had a chance to tie at the end of their 3-pt loss. Today they will have to protect th eball against a ball-hawking guard trio of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews and that will put PG Darris Nichols under the microscope. Besides Nichols, the Mountaineers are not exceptionally strong in handling the ball. This is a big key. WVU will also rely heavily on the 3-pt shot and Marqutte has very good perimeter defenders all around.

I expect this to be a close game, but the home team should get enough looks at the 1-3-1 to come out on top in this one.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Marquette 73 West Virginia 66

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Marquette @ Connecticut

January 10, 2007

A couple of teams in need of something good to happen meet tonight as Connecticut welcomes Marquette to town. The Golden Eagles, expeced by many to challenge for the conference title, had a tough opening week in Big East play, losing to Providence and Syracuse (at home) to start out 0-2. Connecticut, who has had much made of their pre-conference schedule, has dropped two of their last three games when they lost at West Virginia to open conference play and fell on Saturday night at LSU in a non-conference game. I am a little surprised that the oddsmakers have made Marquette a 9-pt underdog...but, lets take a closer look at the match-ups:

Here are the pregame stories and previews from the beat writers covering the game:

Calhoun Considers Shake-up
Starting With a Question
Calhoun Waffles on Starters (Danbury Times)
UConn Men's Basketball Scouting Report (Norwich Times)
Win at Home is Crucial Now (Norwich Bulletin)
Marquette May See New Faces (New Haven Register)
Calhoun Not Ready to Panic (Connecticut Post)
UConn Players Aren't Slacking, They're Struggling (Sporting News)
A Little Off-Kilter (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Bigger Footsteps (Hartford Courant story on MU's Wes Mathews)

Click below for our brief preview and prediction on this game and don't forget to leave your prediction in the comments section.


The Huskies are 9-pt favorites tonight and the Pomeroy computer still loves the young Connecticut squad, picking them as an 11-pt victor in tonight's contest at Gampel Pavilion on UConn's campus (a key factor). Jim Calhoun is not used to his team scoring under 50-pts like they did against LSU on Saturday night and his initial reactions this week seemed to be changing his starting line-up to find more offense. In the end, I expect the same UConn starters who began the first 14 games to hit the floor for the opening tap tonight as well. I doubt he is going to find much more offense from those not starting, with the exception of Doug Wiggins, but AJ Price and Jerome Dyson are not likely to begin the game on the bench.

Connecticut, as we all know, is super-young. With 13 freshman and inexperienced sophomores, they are going to struggle when the game is not being played in a style that is in their comfort zone. They struggle in the halfcourt and seem to be playing in a hurry too much, which leads to poor decisions and hurried shots. The game has yet to slow down for UConn.

Marquette is a team that can really make you play in a hurry. With a trio of guards that like to pressure the ball and create turnovers with their lightning quick hands, Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews will make the Golden Eagles very dangerous in any circumstance. Marquette's problem has also been putting the ball in the basket. None of those three would be considered strong perimeter shooting threats and with their lack of post offense, teams can fall back and zone the Eagles to cut off their penetration.

Both teams are carelss with the basketball, averaging over 15 turnovers a game each and Marquette is coming off a game in which they turned the ball over 23 times against Syracuse's zone defense. Connecticut is not much of a zone team, so that plays into Marquette's hands, but Marquette does not seem to be a team that will try to force a halfcourt game onto UConn, so they both look to play into the pace the other prefers. It might come down to which team decides to take advantage of the other's weakness...at 0-2, I think Marquette might be a little more careful with the ball and look to slow it down and run when they create turnovers on the perimeter.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Marquette 66 Connecticut 62

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Marquette @ Providence

January 4, 2006

An interesting game a couple weeks ago might even be more interesting now with who might not be playing than with who will be playing. It is pretty much certain, although still nothing official, that Providence will be without their point guard and leading scorer Sharaud Curry, suspended for violating team rules. On the other hand, the clear advantage that Marquette enjoyed over Providence, and any other Big East team, on the perimeter could be washed away with the mishap in practice causing Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews to bump heads, leaving their status for tonight's tip-of uncertain as of yesterday.

Here are the game preview stories from around the internet:

Marquette's Road Show in Town (Providence Journal)
McNeal, Mathews Might Not be Ready (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Marquette Basketball Preview (Post-Crescent)
Marquette/PC Scouting Report (P-J)


This had all the makings of a big early season game. One team (Providence) looking to stamp themselves as a contender for the upper-echelon of the conference while the other (Marquette) looked to set off on the road and gain a one-up advantage on the rest of the challengers by wrestling a tough road win from a solid team. However, now we sit and wonder who will be on the floor and who wont be at game time.

It is more of a known certainty that Sharaud Curry will not be on the floor for the Frairs tonight. The sophomore point guard has been suspended for the last two games for a violation of team rules. Curry had been averaging a team-high 17 PPG and 5.6 assists for the offensive juggernaut that has become the Friars. Without him available, freshmen Dwain Williams takes over the ball-handling duties with additional help from Weyinmi Efejuku and Brian McKenzie. In Curry's first game out, Florida State feasted on that line-up, forcing 22 turnovers in a 30-pt romp over the Friars. Efejuku and Williams combined for just 5 assists and 11 turnovers in that contest, just the kind of shaky ballhandling that the Marquette trio of ballhawking guards (Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and wes Mathews) lick their chops to play against. However, it is uncertain of the availability of McNeal and Mathews tonight, throwing Marquette's decided advantage literally out the window as they would probably go with freshman David Cubillan in one spot and Dan Fitzgerlad in the other.

Providence still has plenty of fire-power left without Curry as bruising pt-forward Geoff McDermott would be a very tough match-up for Marquette. The sophomore averages a stat-stuffer line of 11 pts, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. Herbert Hill mans the middle and averaged 15.5 PPG on 73% shooting and the athletic Efejuku has upped his scoring role this year netting 15/game as well. Big men Ray Hall and Jonathan Kale offer solid relief to the frontcourt off the bench and Charles Burch has been throught he Big East battled before.

With Marquette, they will still be led by super sophomore PG Dominic James. The explosive 5'10 James has picked up where he left off last year averaging a team-best 17 PPG and whith his comrades in McNeal and Mathews, he finds room to penetrate and score in a variety of ways. McNeal leads the nation in steals and is the type of player that would give the Friar backcourt fits with his defensive ability. If he is ready to go, I think Marquette forces Providence out of their offensive sets often and wreaks havoc on the Friars inexperienced ballhandling corps. Without Mathews and McNeal, Providence will have better luck getting into their offense and able to exploit Marquette's softer-side, their frontcourt. The will find it easier to run things through McDermott who can post and dish inside to Hill or kick out to some solid shooters.

Marquette enters the game as a 1-pt favorite. With McNeal and Mathews, I think the Golden Eagles get the first road victory of the Big East season. Without, I think Providence holds serve on their home court as Marquette struggles to get offense from their defense and mis-fires on the road from deep.

NBE Blogger Prediction (MU with M&M): Marquette 73 Providence 64
NBE Blogger Prediction (MU w/out M&M): Providence 75 Marquette 66

What do you think?

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