Once again, Man's Greatest Four-Day Weekend begins.......the 2007 NCAA basketball tournament. Workplace productivity be damned. There are games to be played.
And for the fourth time in the last six seasons, the Marquette Warriors are part of the fun --and this time have a sizeable chip on their shoulders for several reasons:
- Disrespected by their seed: check
- Key player injured: check
- Fashionable pick to lose in the first round: check
- Whispers that the team peaked too soon: check
Keys to tonight's game.....well, there are several but a few points to watch for:
- Turnovers: Despite playing at a slower pace (only two teams scored as many as 70 points against them this season) and relying on superior guard play to win, Michigan State turns the ball over on 25% of their tempo-adjusted possessions. Can MU turn the Spartans over at this clip or better if McNeal is not ready to go?
- Rebounding: MSU's inside rotation is more consistent than Marquette's, and the Spartans are one of the very best offensive rebounding teams in the nation. MU is not far behind in that category, but in aggregate the Spartans are a stronger rebounding team. Can MU make the backboards a break-even proposition?
- Raymar Morgan: Folks, here's another versatile 6'7" forward. Yuck. Let's remember what Jeff Green, Demetris Nichols, Alando Tucker and most recently Sam Young have done to MU this season. Can Fitz and/or Lazar slow down MSU's talented freshman?
- David Cubillan: Let's say McNeal won't play. Cuby will have to defend Neitzel. Sack up, Cuby.
- Dan Fitzgerald and Wesley Matthews: MU could have mismatches in their favor with each of these guys on offense. If MSU plays much man-to-man, Neitzel could be matched up on the taller Matthews. Advantage MU. Same thing with Fitzgerald -- as we've seen over the years, MU's tall shooters often gain advantage in man-to-man schemes if they are defended by a traditional post player. This could be the case tonight -- hopefully it is for MU. MSU is a great defensive team (especially inside the arc) so these matchups are key.
- MUScoop info header for the game.
- Rosiak on Matthews and James going into battle sans McNeal.
- Paul Day of the Marquette Tribune previews the game tonight.
- The AP preview.
- The AP with the 1,034th take on the mentor-mentee storyline.
- Tom Keller of The State News on how MSU will free up Neitzel.
- Andrew Silver previews the game for Marquette Hoops.