"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Friday, February 15, 2008

Marquette hosts Pittsburgh

Fresh off an impressive road win over Seton Hall, Marquette (17-6, 7-5) returns home on Friday to host the gritty Pittsburgh Panthers (19-5, 7-4). Tipoff is scheduled for 8pm on ESPN.

Jamie Dixon, who should be the mid-season favorite for Big East coach of the year, has his Panthers riding high despite losing two key starters early in the season. Absent the talented duo of Levance Fields and Mike Cook, Dixon's crew has won three of their last four outings, including an 82-62 thrashing of Providence on Tuesday night.

Dixon will get half of that injured duo back on Friday - -point guard Levance "Don't Tase Me Bro" Fields will play against MU. That'll be an enormous boost to the Panthers who have resorted to playing senior sharpshooter Ronald Ramon at the point, which marginalized his effectiveness as one of the nation's top three-point threats. Fields has been out since breaking his foot on December 29 against Dayton. Fields missed more time for the foot injury than he did for punching an off-duty police officer, allegedly grabbing for the officer's weapon, and ultimately being tased in an incident outside a strip club last September.

In the absence of Cook, Sam Young is turning in an All-Big East caliber season. The 6'7" forward has blossomed in his junior campaign, pouring in 18 points and grabbing seven boards per outing. Young's offensive game is diverse as he is nailing 40% of this attempts from deep, yet leads the Panthers in free throws attempted. Lazar Hayward figures to draw the tough assignment to slow down Young.

As good as Young has been, MU's toughest matchup figures to be DeJuan Blair, the manchild on the frontline for the Panthers. Blair averages a double double in conference play, and the numbers below show how outstanding his performance this year has been. Led by Blair and Young, the Panthers are one of the best rebounding teams in the league.

With Fields back in the mix, MU will need to hit the floor with the same toughness and energy we saw in Newark earlier in the week. Marquette summoned up the moxie and energy that was missing for much of the Big East season as they silenced the chippy Pirates. The Golden Eagles dominated the Pirates on the glass, held them to just 38% shooting, and had an impressive 13 assists on just 30 made field goals.

Crean's squad played .500 ball during its recent four-game stretch which included three games on the road. Record aside, Marquette showed flashes of becoming the team which dominated Wisconsin and nearly topped Duke in both the Notre Dame loss and the Seton Hall win. In fact, some fans have made it back to Jonestown. If the Golden Eagles expect to make a charge for one of the four first-round byes in the Big East Tournament, a win over the Panthers -- who lead MU by 1/2 a game - - is a must.

MU will honor the 2003 Final Four team at Friday's game, with many former players and coaches expected to be in attendance. In addition, Converse will be filming a TV commercial at the 12-minute mark of the first half. Both activities, combined with a Friday night game, are sure to have the crowd in a raucous mood. Could there be a Dwyane Wade appearance to further pump up the rowdiness?

Here are the Top Five Numbers to Know about Pittsburgh. As always, information comes from Pomeroy's Scouting Report and Game Plan.

  • 76% - Pomeroy predicts a 76% chance of victory for Marquette
  • 14 - Pitt is the #14 team in the country at Offensive Efficiency
    • Think Pitt is winning games with their defense? Their defense is #44 in the country, which is decent but not as strong as their offense.
    • However, three of Pitt's last six opponents have been held to low Efficiencies
    • Marquette is the #16 team in the country at Offensive Efficiency and the #17 team in the country at Defensive Efficiency. Will we be able to shut Pitt down?
  • 8 - Pitt is the #8 team in the country at Offensive Rebounding Percentage (OR%)
    • The Panthers secure 41.1% of all potential Offensive Rebounds to help bolster that offensive efficiency
  • 265 - Pitt's national rank at Pace
    • Pitt averages one of the slowest paces in the country for games at just under 65 possessions / game
  • 45 - The jersey number of DeJuan Blair
    • Blair is the fifth best Offensive Rebounder in the country. He grabs over 17% of all potential ORs.
    • Blair is also #35 in the country at grabbing steals during games, at a steal on 4.6% of all possessions
    • For comparison, McNeal is only at #50 in the country
In summary, Pitt's defense is decent. However, the Panthers are really winning a lot of games based on a slowed down pace and high offensive efficiency. A great deal of this offensive efficiency is due to Pitt's ability to crash the offensive boards, especially by DeJuan Blair. Let's watch for Marquette to come out fired up on the boards, push the pace, and fulfill the prediction of a Marquette victory.

As for Levance, well.....

Media Updates
This post created jointly by NYWarrior and Henry Sugar


Anonymous said...

Could Trend swat a couple of Sam Young's shots?

Anonymous said...

"Don't Tease me Bro!"

I love it!

MQ said...

These Pomeroy predictions drive me crazy.

I'm eager to watch a good, close game tonight. MU needs to prove itself in close games. We can't fall behind by 8 or 10 in the first few minutes, as has been the routine against top competition. Rosiak points out that MU only has two wins against top 50 in the RPI. In the same article, he mentions that tonight's game is the only CBB game on (at that time). Great opportunity to bolster the tourney resume. More important than that, though, a win tonight gives the guys added confidence that they need as March nears.

This should be a great game. The stage is set: The 8p start, the Final Four festivities, ESPN nationwide broadcast, and a Friday Fish Fry fueled crowd. Can't wait!

Dave said...
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Anonymous said...
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Henry Sugar said...
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MQ said...

Dave: I need to find it, but I have a VHS of the Kentucky game. I intend to convert it to DVD.

I was at the game and remember turning to my friend at halftime saying, "Is this really happening?" If memory serves, Kentucky was the #1 seed for the field (despite a hobbled point guard..Bogins?). What a game, what a memory. That game could've been an MU vs. UW matchup...

That dominant, highlight-reel performance made the semifinal debacle against Kansas that much more painful.

Seriously, what a magical run. Fitting that we honor it tonight against Pitt. Didn't MU shoot 100 percent in overtime against Pitt in the Sweet Sixteen?

Anonymous said...

MU didn't go to OT vs. Pitt. They shot 100 percent in OT vs. Missouri.

Against Pitt, Wade had something like 22 points in the 2nd half after a miserable 1st half.

MQ said...

That's right! My mistake.

JW Stringer said...

Here's a good preview of tonight's matchup from http://pregame.com.

#22 Pittsburgh at Marquette (ESPN | 9 PM ET)

Pittsburgh is expected to get point guard Levance Fields back from a broken foot he suffered back on December 29th. Field was averaging 11.9 points and 5.4 assists before the injury and was supposed to be out 8-12 weeks. “I’m looking forward to playing on Friday, as long as the foot feels good,” Fields said . “So everything is going as planned. It was a little sore (after practice Monday). Of course, after not doing anything like that the past five or six weeks, you expect that. But it wasn’t painful.” SLIGHT EDGE: PITT

Marquette has won 3 of the last 4 home meetings with Pitt, going 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings between the teams overall. The Golden Eagles had a 3-game series winning streak snapped with a 89-79 loss in last year's Big East tournament. EDGE: MARQUETTE

Pittsburgh is 13-2-1 ATS in its last 16 Friday games.

The OVER is 20-8 in Marquette's last 28 games vs. Big East.

The UNDER is 7-2 in Pittsburgh's last 9 Friday games.

The UNDER is 15-5 in Pittsburgh's last 20 road games.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand ATS, UNDER and OVER

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but why didn't this site publish the link to Michael Hunt's article in the JournalSentinel about MU he wrote a few days ago? Was it too realistic about MU's average season?

Henry Sugar said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but why didn't this site publish the link to Michael Hunt's article in the JournalSentinel about MU he wrote a few days ago? Was it too realistic about MU's average season?
Hey Mr. Anonymous,

Let me explain to you how the blog works. We write whatever the hell we feel like whenever the hell we feel like.

The Hunt article was from 2/8. If you have to know, we didn't post a whole lot last week because several of us were slammed with work. Go back and check. There was a post on 2/5, a very small post on 2/8, and then the ND game happened. Was Hunt's article still noteworthy by then?

We don't have any problems with what Hunt wrote. We also don't have any specific agenda on including or excluding links. Finally, we ESPECIALLY don't have any obligation to report or comment on every single possible link.

Anonymous said...

Henry that sounds like a bunch of balderdash to me. That article was on the front page of the sports section and was extremely relevant. It was left out on purpose and you know it. Is there a pie chart you could create showing the percentages of good press vs bad press you "journalists" publish at Cracked Sidewalks? I just found it very interesting that article wasn't included. Not very fair and balanced reporting Henry.

mu_hilltopper said...

Oh, that is a bunch of crap, Anonymous. No one left it out "on purpose." In honesty, I didn't even see that story until you pointed it out.

In any event, we do have some glass half-full writers on CS, but even with that, we don't guarantee fair and balanced anything. If you don't like it, troll somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

I find it funny you find articles from some pretty obscure places like the Pittblather or some other minor internet publication but you can't publish a JournalSentinel article?! You guys are really losing credibility here. Oh no he said something bad about the MU bball program! Oh no! Oh no!

Dale said...

Dear CS Contributers,

Please continue the hard work and all the posting you do. It's one of the few blogs I find worth checking on a daily basis.

Some individuals don't understand that a blog is for personal use that you share with others and is not intended to be journalism or impartial. I have found the site to be pretty even-keeled (no announcements of winning championships or going Chicken Little on the season). And above that, I like the content that you choose to share with us, videos to stats.

Now I understand why the Anonymous comments have been turned off before. I was disappointed last week to see abbreviated cursing in the comments section. If IP address blocking is available, it may be a quick way to eliminate the comment section abuse.

Anyway, thanks for all your efforts,

Dale Steber - '02 and '05

Henry Sugar said...

Mr. Anonymous. I told you the truth. You can continue to believe what you want to believe.

We'll continue to write what we want when we want.

Anonymous said...

Which still makes it biased Henry. You still don't have a good reason for not posting it. You're busy but not too busy to post a bunch of graphs and charts right? Personally I'd rather read Michael Hunt's column.

Mr. Anonymous

mu_hilltopper said...

Give me a damn break. We don't need a "good reason" to post something or not post something. It's our blog, we write what we want to write. If you want something complete and unbiased to your own damn standards, start your own blog and invite a few thousand of your friends over to read it daily.

In the mean time, feel free to stop reading us.

Anonymous said...
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