Louisville Cardinals (3-1) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (3-2)
NIT Season Tip-Off Third Place Game
Game Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Barclays Center: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Announcers: Dan Shulman (play-by-play) and Jay Bilas (analyst)
Favorite: Marquette by 3.5
Series: Louisville leads, 42-26
Last Meeting: Louisville won 70-51 on Feb. 3, 2013 at the KFC Yum Center
Probable Starting Lineups:
Marquette’s Season to Date:
One of the most talented offensive teams in the country, Marquette enters Friday night’s game coming off a 77-68 loss to No. 1 Kansas, a game which the Golden Eagles led by nine at halftime. Marquette went 0-of-10 from the field to start the second half, a span of futility that allowed KU to go on a 22-0 run and seize command.
Preseason First Team All-Big East selection Markus Howard is the name to know for Marquette. The outside assassin averaged 20.4 ppg last season and shot 46.4 percent from beyond the arc with an effective field goal percentage of 57.2. He enters Friday night averaging 19.6 points, 5.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game. Limiting Howard’s effectiveness has been the key for both teams that have defeated the Golden Eagles this season. Kansas held Howard to 6-of-23 from the field, and Howard shot just 6-of-14 against Indiana.
Marquette’s other double figure scorers are the Hauser brothers, junior Sam (16.4 ppg) and freshman Joey (11.4 ppg). The forwards also rank as the team’s top two rebounders.
Though they don’t play at an especially fast pace, Marquette’s style is still a fun one for the objective viewer — they’re going to take a lot of threes and they’re going to (on good shooting nights) score a lot of points. Leading scorer Andrew Rowsey (20.5 ppg) is gone from last year’s team, an absence which has made the Golden Eagles a stronger defensive team. Although they’re never going to be confused with Virginia or Wisconsin, the Golden Eagles enter Friday night’s game ranked 58th in adjusted defensive efficiency. They finished last season ranked No. 182 in that same category.
To sum up, Marquette has one of the most talented scorers in the country in Howard, a guy who’s fully capable of going off for 40 tonight if Louisville isn’t better defensively than it was against Tennessee. It also has 6’8 and 6’9 forwards who can score on any spot on the court, including from beyond the three-point line. What it doesn’t have is a considerable amount of athleticism or bulk, and it’s still a team whose defensive limitations put it in the danger zone when its outside shot goes cold (see the second half of the game Wednesday night).
—Louisville has won seven consecutive neutral court games against Big East foes.
—Louisville leads the nation in free throw attempts per field goal attempts (151/203, 74.4 percent) and is second in the nation with 39.2 percent of its points coming from free throws.
—Louisville has a 42-5 record during the month of November over the last eight years, winning 22 of its last 25 games in that month.
—This will be the first non-conference meeting between Louisville and Marquette since Jan. 28, 1984.
—Louisville has won 12 of its last 15 games played in New York, including a 2-3 record in the Barclays Center.
—Chris Mack is 9-5 against Marquette as a head coach.
—Louisville and Marquette were fellow members of Conference USA and the Big East from 1996 through 2013, with the Cardinals holding a 17-14 edge in the series during that stretch. During that time, 17 of the 31 games between the teams were decided by five points or less or in overtime.
—Louisville has won 146 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games on the court in each of the last 16 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Marquette 79, Louisville 75