After the rubber match against Notre Dame yielded a Marquette Victory, MU Nation now readies themselves for a semi-final game against Pittsburgh. Game time is tonight on ESPN at 8:30 Milwaukee time.
There was a certain pep in our steps after finding out that Pitt had defeated Louisville. After all, let's face it... Louisville pretty much wiped the floor with Marquette both times. However, in our first game, Marquette thumped Pitt. In addition, Marquette has a recent record of 4-2 against Pitt and we match up fairly well. There is a decent chance that MU can end up in the Big East finals.
However, Pitt enters this game having won five of their last six games, including a stunning win at Syracuse and last night's overtime victory against Louisville. In last night's game, Sam Young contributed 21 points and 12 rebounds. Young was selected as the Big East Most Improved Player, and was also the Cracked Sidewalks choice as well. If nothing else, in their last five games, Pitt defeated two teams against whom Marquette struggled mightily.
As a blog commenter noted, that first game was Levance Fields' first game back after injury, and he was ineffectual. Since that point, he has worked his way back into the full rotation. As the starting PG, Fields does a great job protecting the ball, which will make it harder to force as many turnovers. Furthermore, the Pitt fan base travels well, and will certainly comprise the majority of cheering fans tonight. There is a lot going well for Pitt right now, and they will also have the motivational edge of exacting revenge for the last game. Do not expect that tonight's game will have the same blowout result as the game at the Bradley Center!
What led to our victory against Pitt? Looking at the Pittsburgh Numbers Recap, we can see that Marquette had an edge in every single one of the four factors. Marquette also dominated on defense, holding Pitt to an efficiency far worse than normal. Marquette shot extremely well, forced Pitt into far more turnovers than normal, and turned the game into one at MU's tempo. Not that it had anything to do with the victory, but this was also the game that Trevor Mbakwe was first cleared to play.
For tonight's game, not much is different than the first Game Preview for Pittsburgh. Pitt remains a team with a stronger offense than defense, highlighted by their ferocity on the offensive glass and stinginess with turnovers.
Here are the Top Five Numbers to Know about Pittsburgh.
- 118.2 - The Offensive Efficiency that Pitt averages on Offense
- That's #12 in the country, at 1.18 points / possession
- 242 - Pitt's national rank at pace
- Pitt plays one of the slowest paces in D1, and they have to.
- Their defense is correlated with pace, meaning that the slower the tempo the better their defense
- 67 - Pitt's national rank at defense
- Despite a good showing against Louisville, don't believe the hype about the Pittsburgh defense!
- Only once in the last ten games has their defense been better than average (below 100), although it was last night
- Pitt wins games on the offensive end of the court
- 9 - Pitt's national rank at Offensive Rebounding Percentage
- Pitt grabs almost 40% of all potential offensive rebounds. That's obviously pretty good.
- 18.7% - Pitt's turnover rate on offense
- That's #37 in the country
- When we played them last, Pitt was harassed into a turnover rate of 23%
edit: Added information about Levance Fields