Marquette aims to return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003 when the Golden Eagles (25-9) take on the Stanford Cardinal (27-7) this afternoon in Anaheim.
After an impressive win against Kentucky, the task grows taller for Marquette this afternoon. The Cardinal are led by the seven-foot twins, Brook and Robin Lopez. Brook Lopez, a sure-fire NBA lottery pick, leads the team with 18 points and 8 rebounds per game. Robin Lopez contributes 10 points, 5 boards and 2.5 blocks per game.
With the Lopez twins anchoring the lane, Stanford is one of the best defensive teams in the nation and they've dominated the backboards all season long, especially on the offensive glass. Per Rosiak, Crean likens the matchup to facing Thabeet and Hibbert in the same lineup - - which might be true if the Stanford pair wasn't better.
So, the antidote to ridiculous height and strength is simple, right? Run, shoot well and crash the boards. Perhaps Ousmane Barro, who will set the Marquette career record for games played today (127) will deliver a magical performance. Or maybe Lazar Hayward has more posterization remaining in his repertoire (read more below).
Seriously though, USC topped the Cardinal 77-64 late in the year despite the acute height disadvantage. USC dominated the backboards, taking home and advantage on both sides of the glass to win the game. The Cardinal also fell at Oregon, a smaller, perimeter oriented team. The Ducks won despite being manhandled on the glass and losing the turnover battle because they converted at the charity stripe and limited the Cardinal to just 16% shooting from beyond the arc. Of course, the Cardinal hitting on just 52% of their free throws helped too.
In this battle of opposites, Stanford appears to have the upper hand but perhaps the Golden Eagles have something on their side, karma. After shedding the weight of unrealized expectations on Thursday, Marquette soars into Saturday's tilt with nothing to lose. For the second week in a row, this group broke through to new heights -- first by advancing to the Big East tournament semifinals, and now by winning an NCAA opening round game. Factor in MU's tough schedule (the Golden Eagles played a whopping 12 games against the RPI top 30), the Big East's 7-1 start in NCAA play, and that marvelous backcourt depth ........ hey, you never know.
In the end, here is what we do know:
- Stanford is ginormous. Marquette is not.
- Marquette is fast and quick. Stanford is not.
Still need more? Henry Sugar has it covered with this boffo analysis of the Cardinal -- and this confidence-related epiphany on MUScoop.
Tip-off is scheduled for 5:45pm CST on CBS. Ring Out Ahoya!
Once again, Cracked Sidewalks will be there to cover the game in-person.
- The San Franscisco Chronicle previews the game (thanks to MLB for the tip)
- SF Chronicle on the Cardinal's concern with Dominic James.
- Chicago Tribune previews the game - hey, with no Flatlander programs in the tourney, they might as well adopt the Warriors.
- Rosiak on the off-day in Anaheim.
- Lilliputians take on Gigantaur U -- nice preview by USAToday.
- LATimes: Marquette tries to measure up against Stanford.
- SJMerc says the Cardinal is more athletic than in years past.
- Josh Peter from Yahoo! says MU is tough enough.
- LATimes with the Harbaugh angle.
- AP preview.
- Rosiak on the Stanford 7-footers.
- Oakland Tribune on the game.
- Scout.com previews the game.