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