Saturday, January 31, 2009


January 31, 2009

Georgetown will limp into the Bradley Center on Saturday afternoon for a meeting with Marquette. The Hoyas have lost four in a row overall and have fallen to 3-5 in the Big East. Their latest setback was a 65-57 loss at Cincinnati on Wednesday night in a game where their leading scorer DaJuan Summers suffered an injured ankle in the first half and did not return.

Marquette, led by senior guards Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews, are 7-0 and tied with Louisville for the conference lead. The ‘three amigos’ get adequate support scoring and rebounding from junior forward Lazar Hayward and in their last game, a 71-64 victory at Marquette, they were the only four players to score for the Golden Eagles.

Here are some pregame stories and previews:

Sharper Shot Helping McNeal Slice Through Defenses (Journal Sentinel)
Marquette Faces Off Against Georgetown (Cracked Sidewalks)
Georgetown Needs to Answer the Bell (Washington Times)

The Hoyas wrap up a stretch of three consecutive road games and things do not look to be getting any easier. After losing to Seton Hall and Cincinnati on the road, they now must face undefeated, in Big East play, Marquette and possibly without leading scorer DaJuan Summers.

“We’re struggling right now,” Hoya coach John Thompson III told the media during this week’s Big East coach’s conference call. “And our backs are against the wall. We just have to figure out how to claw our way out of the situation that we’re in.”

That might be easier said than done today. Marquette looks to be a team that can apply defensive pressure with aggressive backcourt play, something Georgetown has not been able to handle this season. Neither team is very deep nor are they extremely productive inside, so the Hoyas are not able to take advantage of Marquette’s weaknesses.

Georgetown will likely play a lot of zone defense and force the Golden Eagles to score on the perimeter. In the halfcourt game, that could pose some problems, however, look for the Marquette defense to force the tempo in their favor and create their scoring opportunities.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Marquette 70
Georgetown 62


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


January 27, 2009

Marquette continued their run through the early portion of their Big East schedule with a victory at Notre Dame last night in ESPN's Big Monday telecast.

The Golden Eagles are a team Seasoned Right (Journal Sentinel) led by their senior guard trio. Last night, Jerel McNeal scored a team-high 27 points with Jerel McNeal added 16 and Dominic James contributed 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and helped direct an offense that turned the ball over just three times all game. Lazar Hayward closed the MU scored with 13 points (that is right, just four Golden Eagles scored) in the 71-64 victory.

Luke Harangody had 29 points and 17 rebounds for the Irish as Notre Dame Loses Second Straight at Home (nwitimes.com) after UConn broked their 45-game win streak at the Joyce Center on Saturday night. It was the fourth loss overall for ND, dropping them to 3-5 in the Big East as the Irish are Losing Grip on the Season (Journal Gazette) that began with so many expectations on the club.

Jonathan Peoples and Luke Zeller were inserted into the starting line-up to replace slumping seniors Zach Hillesland and Ryan Ayers. The move failed to provide any sort of a 'spark' as Ayers-Hillesland combined to go 0-10 in the game and the Irish got zero bench points.

Tory Jackson had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists for the Irish, who will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Panthers on Saturday. At 12-7, with the date with Pitt and road games with Cincinnati and UCLA to follow immediately afterwards, the Irish Feel a 'Sense of Worry' (South Bend Tribune) about a season on the brink.


-The benches of Marquette and Notre Dame dueled to a 0-0 tie. Both teams will need something from their bench with the schedules thehave coming up.

-Notre Dame held a 47-34 rebounding advantage over the smaller Golden Eagles

-Marquette turned the ball over just three times in the game, lowest total in 13 seasons.

-Marquette is 7-0 in the Big East and has won 10 games in a row overall

-MU hosts Georgetown on Saturday


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Monday, January 26, 2009


January 26, 2009

Notre Dame is forced to rebound quickly following Saturday night's 69-61 home loss to Connecticut, a loss that snapped the Irish 45-game home winning streak. The last team to beat the Fighting Irish at the Joyce Center comes to town tonight as Marquette and ND hook up for a Big Monday battle.

More concerning to Irish coach Mike Brey than the end of a 45-game home winning streak is the current three-game losing steak the Irish find themselved mired in. Saturday night's loss knocked Notre Dame to 3-4 in Big East play.

Marquette has been rolling along in conference play, beating Depaul on Saturday to move to 6-0 in Big East play. The Golden Eagles will look to keep on rolling tonight and begin a home losing streak for ND.

Here are some pregame stories and previews from the internet today:

ND Off Course in Big East (South Bend Tribune)
No Longer a Matter of Record (Journal-Sentinel)
Line-up Shake-up Likely for Notre Dame (Chicago Tribune)
Notre Dame Looks to End Three-Game Losing Streak (Chicago Tribune)
Acker Raising Game, Elevating Profile Off of Bench (Journal-Sentinel)

This is a really important game for Notre Dame who will embark on a three-game road trip afterwards. With trip to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and UCLA to follow, the Irish need to right the ship quickly.

Teams seem to be content on letting Luke Harangody rack up some big numbers as they concentrate on stopping the rest of the Irish players. That scheme will fall right into the Golden Eagles' plan ss they do not have the muscle inside to slow Harangody, but their quick hands will try and make him work for his points. In the three-game losing streak, nobody is stopping Harangody from putting up his stats, nearly 26 points and 15 rebounds a game, but he has had to take 79 shots (over 26 a game) to get those numbers.

it is being proven that Tory Jackson and Kyle McAlarney make this team go. Harangody will get his, but their failure to replace Rob Kurz with a consistent third scoring option and another post player to take the pressure off of Harangody has made the Irish quite beatable. Add in the fact that their defense struggles and it is clear to see why ND is sliding.

Marquette is definitely not sliding, they are rising quickly up the basketball polls. The guard trio of Jerel McNeal, Wesley Mathews and Dominic James applies pressure on both ends of the court to opposing backcourts. Their defensive effort usually takes teams right out of their comfort zone and makes up for their lack of size by disrputing play on the perimeter.

Mathews and McNeal are having tremendous senior seasons offensively, both averaging 19 points a game, and continue to wreak havoc defensively. Junior forward Lazar Hayward has taken to his role as an undersized big forward, averaging over 16 points and nearly 9 rebounds a game.

The oddsmakers have made the Irish a 3 1/2 point favorite tonight. This game almost looks to be a toss up. Marquette seems to be the better team, but are they do for a loss? I am not convinced it comes tonight as Marquette has the personnell to make things difficult for McAlarney to find shots and for Jackson to get into the offense. Despite a zone defense from the Irish, Marquette will look to hit the seams with their quickness and also score in transition when the Irish get lax on defense, which happens all too often.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Marquette 75
Notre Dame 71


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Saturday, January 24, 2009


January 25, 2009

Marquette looked like they were going to blow the doors off of DePaul sprinting to a 48-34 halftime lead. While the second half was not a thing of beauty, the Golden Eagles Stay Perfect in the Big East (Journal Sentinel) with a 79-70 win.

Jerel McNeal had 21 points, Wesley Mathews added 20 and Lazar Hayward scored 16 and grabbed 17 rebounds in the win.

Dar Tucker led DePaul with 18 points.


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January 24, 2009

Lowly DePaul travels to Milwaukee to meet former Conference USA rival Marquette for a 2 PM Big East conference showdown. While Marquette has ascended to the top of the Big East standings with their 5-0 start, DePaul has bottomed-out and sits at 0-6 in league play. This once anticipated match-up hardly registers a blip on the radar on the schedule this weekend, even in Chicago.

DePaul and Marquette Meet for 106th Time (debaulbluedemons.com)
Wesley Mathews Leads Marquette Against DePaul (Chicago Tribune)
DePaul Desperate for a Win (Southtown Star)

The pressure has definitely hit a crescendo on Jerry Wainwright and his program. The local papers are all running stories wondering the status of his future as DePaul has fallen to the bottom of the Big East. With no indication of an uptick in their future, the powers that be at DePaul will be taking a long look at the future of the program over the next couple months.

For now, they have more basketball to play and have a nightmare match-up on Saturday afternoon when they visit Marquette. The Golden Eagles are led by their super guard trio of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews. Their strength matches up right with the Blue Demons’ weakness. Marquette has the perimeter athleticism, speed, strength and height to take Dar Tucker and Will Walker right out of the game.

While Marquette’s front line is very undersized, Mac Koshwal should put together solid numbers for DePaul, but MU will counter by disrupting the offensive of DePaul with on the ball pressure on the perimeter, making it very difficult for them to get the ball inside. This one has all the makings of a blow out and the college basketball betting lines have the Golden Eagles as a 16 1/2-pt home favorite. Seems about right…if not a little low.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Marquette 85
DePaul 64


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Friday, January 16, 2009


January 17, 2009

Marquette will put their undefeated 4-0 conference record on the line when they travel to Providence for a 9 PM game with the Friars at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Friars are off to a 3-1 start in the Big East and look to capture their most impressive win of the season.

Marquette Guard Troika a Force for Friars to Reckon With (Providence Journal)
PC Hosts Marquette Tonight (Pawtucket Times)
Marquette Travels to Providence on Saturday (Cracked Sidewalks)
Williams Off-Beat Approach Working for Marquette (Chicago Tribune)
James Thrives in Shutdown Mode (Journal-Sentinel)

Two of the more experienced teams in the Big East will be featured in this contest. Marquette has the three senior guard line-up and PC has five seniors, a redshirt junior and another junior at the top of their rotation.

The Golden Eagles will look to use their guard trio of Dominic James, Wesley Mathews and Jerel McNeal to get up into Sharaud Curry and the PC perimeter snipers of Jeff Xavier and Brian McKenzie to throw the Friars out of their offensive rhythm. The Friars have some size, but they do not always effectively use it and the Marquette perimeter pressure is aimed at making it difficult for opponents to exploit a weakness of MU.

Every year, PC surprises at least one team on their home floor. It is usually done so with accurate three-point shooting, but in this match-up, look for the Golden Eagle guards to defend the perimeter in shutdown mode and see if the guards of PC can create for the big men inside.

Without a strong post defender, I expect the Marquette guards to be able to get into the lane and score often. A sagging zone is the best defense against MU, but they have been shooting very well of late, too. Look for the Golden Eagles to continue their strong start in conference play with a solid road win in Rhode Island.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Marquette 74
Providence 69


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Saturday, January 10, 2009


January 10, 2009

Marquette looks to extend their best-even Big East start to 4-0 when they welcome former Conference USA rival Bob Huggins, who will bring his current team, West Virginia, to the Bradley center for a Big East showdown at noon on Saturday.

The Bradley Center is home to one of the best home court crowds in the league, hopefully the early start time (11 AM locally) does not negatively impact that home court edge the Golden Eagles usually enjoy. Marquette escaped Rutgers with an 81-76 win earlier this week. Buzz Williams’ crew say a 21-point lead sliced to two in the final minute, but hung on for the victory, improving their conference record to 3-0.

West Virginia dropped to 1-1 with a Tuesday night home loss to Connecticut. The Mountaineers shot the ball poorly (30%) and were dominated on the boards by the bigger Huskies. They will not have to worry about the size of the Golden Eagles, but an aggressive perimeter defense might cause the shooting woes to linger.

Here are some game previews and stories from the web this morning:

Golden Eagles Preview: Marquette vs. West Virginia (Appleton Post Crescent)
Freshman Trio Powering Mountaineers (Times West Virginian)
Marquette Takes on west Virginia (Cracked Sidewalks)
Game 17: West Virginia (Journal Sentinel)
Mountaineers Look to Snap Marquette’s Win Streak (Register-Herald)
MU’s Middle Men Getting it Done on Defense (Journal Sentinel)
Marquette Coach Says WVU Will Compete (Daily Mail)

The three amigos, Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews, with a lot of help from junior Lazar Hayward, are off to a 3-0 start in the Big East and will look to continue that run this afternoon. As usual, the Golden Eagles will hope that their guard play dictates the flow of the game to mask their interior and rebounding deficiencies that bigger Big East teams will look to exploit.

West Virginia has not been shooting the ball very well, and that was key in their recent loss to UConn. Look for Marquette to be all over Alex Ruoff on the perimeter and for James to harass freshman Darryl Bryant when on the ball.

The Mountaineers are likely to respond with a variety of zone defenses to keep the Marquette guards out of the lane and shooting from the perimeter. In their last home game, the MU perimeter shooters were on fire, going 15-25 from beyond the arc. Marquette has great confidence right now and the NCAA basketball odds have MU as a 3 ½ point home favorite as guards rule in college basketball.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Marquette 72
West Virginia 63


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Wednesday, January 07, 2009


January 7, 2009

While Rutgers might be through with the brutal stretch of top 5 teams North Carolina, Pittsburgh and UConn, who were ranked 1, 2 and 3 when they played them, the Big East allows no breathers and next up for the Scarlet Knights is Marquette. The Golden Eagles will look to build on their best-ever 2-0 Big East start at the RAC tonight.

Here are some of the pregame stories and previews found on the web this morning:

Seniors Hoping to Avoid Letdown Against Rutgers (Journal-Sentinel)
Stats Don’t Tell Story for Knights (mycentraljersey.com)

Peeking ahead in your schedule is not hard to do in this league, but Marquette will try and concentrate at the task on hand tonight in New Jersey. The Scarlet Knights gave #1 ranked Pittsburgh all they could handle in their Big East opener on New Year’s Eve and that should certainly have the attention of the Golden Eagles this evening.

Marquette is coming off an 84-50 route of Cincinnati and if they unleash their defensive pressure from the outset, they could do something similar to RU. Jerel McNeal, Dominic James and Wesley Mathews have been excellent this season both offensively and defensively. In their last game, they held Deonta Vaughn scoreless against Cincinnati and will look to make life just as difficult tonight against RU freshman Mike Rosario, who seems to be the catalyst of the RU offense.

Marquette is not the biggest team in the conference and the Scarlet Knight could match-up very well in the frontcourt with Greg Echenique, Hamady N’Diaye and JR Inman, but they will only be as productive as their backcourt getting them the ball in position to score.

Marquette is a 9 ½ point favorite on the road, but look for RU to play this one tough. Marquette still pulls it out with more talent, but the young Knights will also use some of their experienced players and play well at home.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Marquette 70
Rutgers 63


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Sunday, January 04, 2009


January 4, 2009

Marquette looks to start 2-0 in the Big East for the first time since joining the conference as Cincinnati visits the Bradley Center for the 2 PM tip-off on Sunday. The Golden Eagles started off conference play with a win over Villanova on New Year's Day.

Here are some pregame stories and previews from around the web this morning:

Eagles Can Set Tone Early in Big East Slate (Journal-Sentinel)
Bearcats Hope They're Ready (Cincinnati Enquirer)

The Bearcats come into Milwaukee with a 10-3 record in their non-conference schedule. UC dropped their last game of 2008, 60-45, at Memphis. The Bearcats shot a woeful 26% from the field and junior Deonta Vaughn was their lone player to reach double figures. UC has also lost to Florida State (58-47) in Vegas and at home to crosstown rival Xavier, 76-66, thus far.

Like usual, Vaughn is the offensive catalyst for Mick Cronin's club, averaging a team-best 15.2 PPG as well as 4.6 assists predominately playing the point guard position because of the preseason knee injury suffered by freshman Cashmere Wright who was supposed to help take some of the ballhandling duties off of Vaughn's shoulders.

Freshman Yancy Gates anchors an improved and deeper frontline, averaging over 10 points and a team high 6.5 rebounds a game. Mike Williams and Steven Toyloy join returnee Anthony McClain in a unit that should give the smaller Marquette club some trouble.

The power of strong guard play and home court is definitely reflected in the early NCAA basketball odds in this game as Marquette is a 10 and a half point favorite over the Bearcats. MU is, of course, led by the dynamic guard trio of seniors Wesley Mathews, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James. The ability of Lazar Hayward to hold his own as the most productive frontcourt performer in Big East battles will go a long way in determining the success of the Golden Eagles this season.

Hayward, usually playing out of position as often the biggest Golden Eagle on the floor, averages 17 points and 9 rebounds a game. Mathews is off to a great start this year as the complete wing averages a team-high 19 points a game, getting over seven of them from the foul line each time out. McNeal continues to fill the stat sheet with 17.6 points a game as well as 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and nearly two assists a game. James runs the show and averages 11 points, over 5 assists and better than a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio.

The weakness of MU is depth, especially in an already thin backcourt where Dwight Burke is the starter, but plays just under 20 minutes a game and averages just 2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds. Marquette will need to find Hayward some help when the bigs of the Big East come calling.

Today will be a challenge...but, on their home floor, their guard play should set the tone for a win.


Marquette 71
Cincinnati 64


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Thursday, January 01, 2009


January 1, 2009

Marquette hopes to host a New Year's party at the expense of Villanova when the two teams meet New Year's Day at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. The latest college basketball odds list the Golden Eagles as the three-point favorite to start off 2009 with a win.

This is a match-up of two teams with excellent guard play, but neither would be considered to have a strong frontcourt. We would give the edge in the backcourt in this one to Marquette, while the Wildcats, led by Dante Cunningham, will be expected to have the edge up front.

Here are a couple pre-game stories from the web:

Villanova to Test Big East Waters (Philly Inquirer)
Familiar Setting as Villanova Opens Big East Play (Philly Daily News)
MU Has Big Task in Conference (Milwaukee Journal-sentinel)

Marquette is led by the senior guard trio of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Mathews, all having strong starts this year under new coach Buzz Williams. Lazar Hayward provides most of the scoring and rebounding for an undersized and undermanned front line.

Villanova always has strong guard play under coach Jay Wright. Scottie Reynolds returns to lead the troops, but the emergence of senior Dante Cunningham as a highly productive post player on both ends makes the Wildcats very dangerous.

In this one, look for the home crowd to help energize Marquette to push and attack the 'Nova defense. It should be a good game, with the senior trio in the MU backcourt pulling out the win.


Marquette 69
Villanova 63


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