Louisville/Marquette mini-preview

--Spread check: Marquette by 1.5

--Odds of me taking a nap before the 9:30 p.m. tip: 1:12

--A bit hard to believe, but Louisville has actually dominated this series of last, taking four in a row from the Golden Eagles and seven of the last eight. 

--Marquette has dubbed tonight (or today, I guess) "Al McGuire Day," and the following video will roll before the game.


--There might not be another player in the Big East for whom Louisville has less of an answer than Lazar Hayward. The senior forward is one the league's top scorers (18.4 ppg) and rebounders (8.1 rpg), and is apt at scoring from any position on the floor. 

We match up a great deal when we're in zone, which makes the issue of having someone to guard Hayward straight up a big deal even if Pitino decides to stray from man-to-man for a significant chunk of the game. Jared Swopshire (lean, slow) and Terrence Jennings (not great on the perimeter) aren't ideal candidates for the job, so don't be surprised if Rock Buckles sees a spike in playing time. 

--Despite the fact that both squads are still considered by most to be bubble teams, sole possession of fifth-place in the Big East will be on the line this evening. 

--Marquette is returning home tonight after becoming the first team in college basketball history (probably) to win three consecutive road games in overtime. 

--Overall, the Golden Eagles have won eight of their last nine. 

--The rivalry may have died down a tad in recent years, but Cracked Sidewalks takes a look at the five things it still hates most about Louisville.

#5) The last second no-call on Wardle during the Senior Night Triple OT loss at the Bradley Center. A killer loss. Wardle played a remarkable 52 minutes that night for nought.

#4) "I'll take Niv Berkowitz and the 47 points" The overhyped and overmatched PG led Marquette to the worst loss in team history, a 99-52 thrashing at the hands of the Cardinals at Freedom Hall back in 2005. Oh, the game was on national television. Buzzkill. Thank goodness the Three Amigos arrived soon after.

#3) Reese Gaines. After hitting his game winner at MU - a clutch shot just moment after Diener's apparent dagger - the Madison native pranced around the court in defiant celebration. At least this story had a happy ending. Gaines' reward was the right to work for a Marquette graduate the following fall (he was drafted by Doc Rivers' Orlando Magic). Heheh.

#2) The insipid 'C-A-R-D-S' chant heard at the Bradley Center every year by the pockets of UL fans in the crowd.

#1). Slick Rick Pitino. I know he's an easy target, but I'm a simple man. Pitino rode back to the Bluegrass State and many expected him to replicate the nearly unparalleled success he had over in Lexington. It has largely not worked out that way for Rick where recruiting gaffes, a rash of injuries, and a few underachieving squads have managed to temper progress....just a bit. Not that I am complaining, because if I were a complainer Slick Rick would point out that whining is not one of the 10 Traits of Great Leadership in Business and Life, nor will it help me understand the Ten Steps to Overachieving in Business and Life. Tony Robbins has nothing on this man!

--Tonight's matchup might feature the two worst rebounding teams in the league. At least Marquette has an excuse. The Golden Eagles don't start anyone taller than 6-6, and boast no regular reserve over 6-7. Buzz Williams' squad has been outrebounded in each of its last six games. 

--Charts charts charts Charts charts charts Charts charts charts...



PPG FG% FT% 3P% RPG ORPG DRPG APG TPG SPG BPG FPG
Louisville UL 77.6 45.0 70.7 33.5 37.2 14.7 22.4 15.3 13.7 7.9 4.2 20.4
Marquette MARQ 74.4 45.4 74.0 40.9 32.9 11.1 21.8 15.4 10.4 8.0 2.2 17.2
Louisville UL Opponents 69.7 42.8 70.1 34.8 34.8 13.0 21.8 13.3 15.7 6.5 2.2 20.4
Marquette MARQ Opponents 64.1 44.6 67.7 31.3 32.6 10.5 22.1 13.8 14.8 5.7 3.9 17.4

Rank and Records UL
MARQ
RPI #32
#47
Strength of Schedule #6
#55
Overall 19-10
19-9
Conference 10-6
10-6
Home 14-4
12-3
Away 4-6
5-5
Top 25 2-5
3-6
RPI Top 50 6-7
5-8

More at StatSheet.

--Louisville has won three straight inside the Bradley Center. 

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