Today’s the day.
Coming off a thrilling overtime victory against Georgetown, Marquette will have another chance to boost their resume today with a home matchup against #4 Villanova. Sitting at 11-8 overall and 3-3 in conference play, today’s game might be a deciding factor in terms of tourney hopes for a team that had looked beyond hopeless for a good chunk of the season. A win would give Marquette their first quality win (and an impressive one at that), bring the team above .500 for conference play for the first time all year, start a 2-game winning streak, and lastly, rejuvenate the confidence of both the fan base and players. So, yeah. No pressure, guys.
We’re trying to shorten these up a bit, so we’re gonna go straight to our Things To Watch For In Today’s Game:
- For a large part of the season, Buzz had gone with the predictable starting lineup of Derrick Wilson, Thomas, Anderson, Jamil and Otule. But ever since the DePaul game, he’s been trying a number of other lineups to try and spark the offense. First, he inserted Davante Gardner into the starting lineup for Anderson, which has definitely brought out the best in Ox – he’s scored over 17 points in 4 of 5 games since becoming a starter, including 28 against DePaul and 20 against Georgetown. Buzz tried something even more different against Georgetown, throwing out a 2nd-half starting unit consisting of John Dawson, Thomas, Jamil, Steve Taylor and Davante. Again, it worked. Although the defense was worse, the offense flowed much more smoothly with this squad, scoring 37 points in the 2nd half and manhandling Georgetown 15-7 in OT. Todd Mayo had a lot to do with the team’s post-1st half offensive success, but the new unit as a whole simply seemed to play better basketball – which is why you should also watch for…
Distribution of Minutes
- Will Derrick Wilson or John Dawson get more playing time? The more John Dawson plays, the better the offense has gotten, and Buzz has begun to realize this. Dawson got 31 minutes to Derrick’s 12 against Georgetown, and as Jamil put it, “John was the reason we won Monday.” If Marquette wants to win this game, #JohnnyBasketball needs to keep succeeding when given the opportunity.
- Also watch to see how much playing time Steve Taylor gets. STJ was given the most minutes he’s had all season on Monday and nearly posted a double-double, finishing with 14 points and 8 rebounds. If he rides the bench today, it shows that he’s still not 100% healthy. But if he plays, we can confidently say that his knee issues aren’t something to worry about right now – giving us another strong rebounder and post player for both today and the rest of the season.
The Pink Jerseys (and Shoes)
- How could we forget the pink jerseys!?!?! Marquette will be sporting pink unis and shoes today to support breast cancer. Take a look at them, they’re pretty awesome:
- We’re not sure how to word this one, but for once, Marquette played well down the stretch against Georgetown and came out with a win. Disorganization at the end of games has killed Marquette all year, and keeping this clutch play up would certainly add a whole new dimension to this team’s capabilities. If this game comes down to the wire, look to see who’s got the ball in their hands, what kind of shot they take, and, most importantly, if they make it.
And now, your Incredibly Short X-Factors For Today’s Game Because Tipoff Is In 20 Minutes:
- As previously hinted at, John Dawson needs to play like #JohnnyBasketball for us to win.
- As also previously hinted at, we need someone to carry us down the stretch again. Todd Mayo, anyone?
- Jamil can’t get into foul trouble. He helped us a ton on defense and the “little things” on Monday. Love him or hate him, the team gets worse when he’s not on the floor. He may have only shot 2-7 from the floor for 10 points, but his minutes-to-foul ratio, rebounds and assists have lately become the most important parts of his game – and we could definitely use another 44-minute/3-foul, 6-rebound, 5-assist game from J-Dubs.
Watch today’s game at 1 pm CT on Fox Sports 1. You’re gonna wanna see this one, kids.
Update: Oh man. We barely said anything about Nova. They’re a great overall team led by forward JayVaughn Pinkston and guards James Bell and Darrun Hillard. Credible (but not great) 3-point shooting squad. 16-2 overall, 5-1 Big East. They’re coming off an absolutely devastating loss against Creighton, in which the Bluejays sunk TWENTY ONE out of thirty-five threes in route to a 96-68 victory. Nova still looked good, though. You can’t really do much to stop that.
Today’s prediction? Villanova 84, Marquette 72. Sorry, guys.
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