Our regular crack team of pre- and post-game bloggers are busy this weekend, so I'll do my best in their absence.
On Saturday, Marquette takes on the West Virginia Mountaineers (12-2) at 11am CST at the Bradley Center. The Mountaineers are 3-1 in the Big East and are coming off their only conference loss @Notre Dame.
WVU joined the Top 25 two weeks ago with wins over UConn and Villanova. Personally, whenever I want to know how tough a team is, I take a peek at their schedule, and generally throw out the Slippery Rock and Maryland Eastern Shore type victories, in which case, WVU has a 2-2 record vs. Top 100 (RPI) teams, Villanova (W), UConn (W) Arkansas (L), Notre Dame (L).
After an Elite 8 and a Sweet 16 in the last couple seasons, the Mountaineers had 83% of their offensive production graduate last year. In the Big East Basketball Report's Weekly Power Poll, WVU began the year at #14, with most predicting a tough year for the Mountaineers. Times have changed, and WVU is now #2 in that very same poll.
WVU is currently 2nd in the NCAA for scoring defense, 2nd in 3-pointers made/game, 7th in fewest turnovers/game, and 8th in steals, and on average, force 20 turnovers per game. They've hit 10 or more 3-pointers in eleven games this year.
HOWEVER, West Virginia was featured in Sports Illustrated this week, and no amount of 3 pointers can overcome the SI curse, right?
Marquette is coming off a big win on the road at UConn, and look to even their Big East record at 2-2. Last year, Marquette lost to the Mountaineers 104-85, with Dominic James going off for 28 points, but WVU had an unreal 20 three-pointers. The MU/WVU series is tied at two apiece, with each winning their games on their home court.
Marquette will be celebrating their 90th Basketball Season at half-time, with a ceremony honoring a large number of basketball team alumni.
Tickets are still available, and the first 10,000 fans will receive the 2nd set of the basketball trading cards. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN with announcers Dave O'Brien and Rick Majerus.
Marquette is a 1.5 favorite.
If you can't make it to the Bradley Center, fire up this video at 11:00, it'll feel like you're there!