Friday, February 16, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Louisville @ Marquette

February 17, 2007

For the second time in conference play, the Marquette Golden Eagles are facing a two-game losing streak. After starting conference play 0-2, Marquette rattled off eight straight wins. Now, they have dropped two games in a row again and have to face a rejuvinated Louisville Cardinal club on Saturday night in Milwaukee.

I am having a little trouble getting a solid handle on Marquette. They play at the fastest pace in the conference, but their offense just does not seem to be very effective when they are playing that quickly. They seem to be better when they are slowing it down and letting their guards create the offense, instead of forcing the offense. However, the seem to be determined to play at a fast pace this year, and they definitely have the tools to do it with Dominic James, Wesley Mathews and Jerel McNeal.

Louisville looks to be performing at the level expected in the preseason. They are coming off a win at Pittsburgh which was their first REAL quality win of the season. However, for the first time, they have their full team available. Juan Palacios, Brandon Jenkins, Andre McGee and David Padgett are healthy. Derrick Caracter and Earl Clark seem to have bought what Rick Pitino has been trying to sell and Terrence Williams is not trying to to everything on each possession for Louisville. This team is loaded with talent and athletic ability, it is finally starting to come to the forefront.

Marquette has the athletic advantage in the backcourt and an experience edge, too. However, Louisville is not too shabby there either and with Jenkins and McGee getting back to health and Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa gaining more experience, Louisville could very well be ready to match-up in the backcourt with Marquette. The key for me is the match-up of Jerel McNeal and Terrence Williams. In their first meeting Williams shot 4-16. McNeal was in some foul trouble, but added 7 assists and 15 pts in 28 minutes.

Playing on a Saturday night in the Bradley Center gives Marquette a big advantage. Louisville will make this game much more difficult for the Golden Eagles than their first meeting, but I look for Dominic James to break out of his semi-slump of the last week or so and hit some big shots down the stretch to pull it out against a confidence Louisville club.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Marquette 69 Louisville 68

Read more!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


February 14, 2007

Former Conference USA rivals re-unite this evening at Allstate Arena just outside Chicago as the DePaul Blue Demons host the Marquette Golden Eagles in a Big East conference match-up. TThe Blue Demons bring their 5-6 conference mark into the game against the 8-3 Golden Eagles as both teams have a lot to still play for.

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

Burns Burning to Carry DePaul to the Postseason (Chicago Tribune)
Marquette a Key Foe for DePaul, Chandler (Chicago Sun-Times)
DePaul's Chandler a Work in Progress (Daily Herald)
Center Draws Spotlight (Daily Herald)
Marquette Basketball Preview (Post-Crescent)
Frigid Conditions (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Saturday was not a good day for Marquette. Wesley Mathews was struggling with illness, Jerel McNeal picked up his 3rd foul with more than 10 minutes left in the 1st half and Dominic James struggled to find his shooting touch, finishing the game 2-17. Yet, the Golden Eagles hung tough on the road before Georgetown finished the game on a 23-5 run for a 76-58 win. James and McNeal were also a bit under the weather as Tom Crean was still recovering from sickness.

Tonight, the Golden Eagles look to return to healthy at the expense of the DePaul Blue Demons. Although Marquette is ranked 12th in the country, they are 2.5-pt underdogs on the road against a sub-.500 conference foes...Hmmmmm.

Depaul has gotten a big lift of late from Draelon Burns offensively. Burns has turned in some high scoring efforts of late, averaging 21 PPG in their last three outings, two of which were DePaul wins. Wilson Chandler dominated Notre Dame last Thursday, scoring 25 pts and grabbing 14 rebounds and DePaul will need a similar effort tonight against the perimeter-strong Marquette club. This will also put Sammy Mejia in the spotlight again. Mejia will likely have Jerel McNeal assigned to him and he will need to find his offense once again. The point-guard by committee that DePaul turns to is going to have their hands full with a determined Dominic James, who wants to get back on track in a big way.

With Pittsburgh dropping a game to Louisville on Monday, Marquette sees their chances in the Big East regular season race improve, but they will have to navigate a tricky road trip to DePaul tonight in order to do so. With their three guards back to health, I see them getting their offensive touch back tonight, especially James. DePaul is a little too inconsistent for me to lean on them tonight, but they will make this game a close one, but the talented guard trip of Marquette will make the plays down the stretch and look for a timely 3-pt shot from Dan Fitzgerald when they need it to complete a late run for the win.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Marquette 67 DePaul 63

Read more!

Friday, February 09, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Marquette @ Georgetown

February 10, 2007

The highlight of this weekend's Big East conference schedule is a match-up of two of the current three contenders for the Big East regular season crown as Georgetown will host Marquette. It will be a historic day in Georgetown basketball history as the University celebrates its 100th season of intercollegiate basketball. On Saturday, Feb. 9, 1907, Georgetown defeated Virginia 22-11 to begin its basketball tradition. This weekend's festivities include the unveling of the all-century team for Georgetown University on Saturday.

Marquette enters the game on an eight-game win streak that has catapulted the Golden Eagles into contention, after starting conference play 0-2. Marquette is led by their dynamic guard trio of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews, which causes match-up problems for many teams. Georgetown has a thin backcourt, usually playing just three guards in their entire rotation with Jonathan Wallace and Jesse Sapp as the starters and freshman Jeremiah Rivers off the bench. They will certainly be put to the test early and often against the physical pressure on defense and athletic attack on the offensive end of the Golden Eagles backcourt.

Georgetown will look to counter Marquette's backcourt edge by getting the game into their pace and usually their frontcourt size advantage and turn the game into a half-court game. Georgetown would rather play at a pace limiting possessions to the 50'sm while Marquette wants to get out and pick-up the pace and play a game that has about 70 possessions total. That is a big difference and whichever team is successful should be the winning team.

Georgetown will use their zone defense and Princeton-style offense to but the breaks on Marquette's attack. Marquette will likely have to go zone as well as Georgetown will start 7'2 Roy Hibbert, 6'9 Jeff Green and 6'8 DaJuan Summers along their frontline. Ousmane Barro is the only player for Marquette likely to match-up inside as they are nearly 100% reliant on the 3-guard line-up and Lazar Hayward and Dan Fitzgerald are perimeter-minded '4' men.

Usually in college basketball, guards win. This is a classic case of two teams with nearly completely opposite strengths trying to impose their style on the game. Whoever is successful should win...with both teams likely to go zone, that shoudl lead to a slower game...so, I will go with the home team looking for the slower pace to be successful.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Georgetown 69 Marquette 61

Read more!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Rutgers @ Marquette

February 7, 2007

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

Marquette Basketball Preview (Appleton Crescent)
Hill's Moral: Improve, but Win (Star-Ledger)
Crean is Wary of Rutgers (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Hill Pleased with Rutgers Recent Play (Courier-News)
Rutgers Scouting Report

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


Last year it was Rutgers pulling off the big upset when they beat Marquette, don't look for the same result this time. This year there is no Quincy Douby and the game is in Milwaukee, not at the RAC. Still, Tom Crean is worried about Rutgers, especially after the Scarlet Knights, without JR Inman, took Connecticut to overtime in Hartford in their last game. Still, that is likely coachspeak because Marquette matches up very well with Rutgers at every position and will be playing the game at home.

Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wes Mathews are probably the nation's top guard trio and they will likely make life very difficult tonight for Anthony Farmer, Marquis Webb and Jaron Griffin. Theu ball-hawking defense and explosive quickness should allow them to have an answer for everyone Rutgers wants to do on either side of the court on the perimeter.

Inside, Rutgers has not been getting much production, besides from Inman. They will need a Herculean effort from Inman to stay in this one as he is likely the only match-up Rutgers can look to exploit. However, marquette has several defensive options, including a suffocating zone, that they could use to slow the ability of the Knights to get Inman in position to take over the game.

Look for the Golden Eagles to race out to a big lead early and put the game on cruise control. A comfortable win is expected, not sure if they will cover the 17.5-pt spread by the end, but they are capable of it.

NBE Blogger's Prediction: Marquette 74 Rutgers 57

Read more!

Friday, February 02, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ Marquette

February 3, 2007

When Big East play opened for Marquette and Providence many people took notice of the hurting that Providence put on Marquette in their 74-59 win in Rhode Island. On Saturday, Marquette gets the opportunity for revenge with the rematch as Providence travels to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee to take on the Golden Eagles.

Sometimes certain teams can have another's number based on the match-up. This might be the case between Providence and Marquette. The Friars are a zone team and they have a frontline that can be athletic and strong as well as deep. Providence also has a impressive stable of guards that are quick and athletic. We all know where Marquette's strength lies, and that is with their guard trio of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews and, like any game, they have the backcourt advantage in this contest.

In their conference opening meeting, Marquette was without McNeal and Providence was without point guard Sharaud Curry. Providence had no match for Herbert Hill inside (23 pts, 9 rebounds, 7 blocks) and Geoff McDermott carved them up inside and out (11 pts, 9 rebounds and 11 assists). Marquette struggled against the PC zone, shooting just 19-61 from the floor and 4-23 from their 3-pt line. The Golden Eagles are going to have to do a much better job this time making shots and slowing down their inside game. Ousmane Barro has shown great improvement since the conference opener and they will need that improvement tonight.

Marquette has been idle since their Sunday afternoon great escape at South Florida. The Golden Eagles have put themselves in excellent position in the Big East race since opening the conference with two losses they have followed that up with six straight wins. Their seventh should come Saturday, but it will be a fight.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Marquette 74 Providence 71

Read more!