"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

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Marquette travels to ND for Big Monday


Fresh off of a pummeling tuneup that Marquette delivered to DePaul. Wait, that didn't happen. Okay, after beating DePaul by nine, the team gets two days rest before tipoff in South Bend. Last year, Marquette and ND faced off three times, with MU blitzkrieging ND in the first game and losing @ Notre Dame (in a game where the Irish shot 31 free throws to MU's eight). However, the rubber match went to Marquette in the BET. I know everyone remembers, but it feels nice to rehash it again.

Notre Dame is in the middle of their own brutal stretch of games that has them face MU as the fourth game in a gauntlet of @UL (loss), @Syracuse (loss), UConn (loss), MU, and @Pitt. The Irish just lost for the first time at home since Marquette beat them in 2006.

Frankly, ND needs this win a LOT more than Marquette does, especially coming off their last game against UConn. Losing to Marquette might not be a TKO of their season, but it would leave them ready in jeopardy before heading to Pitt. However, until the DePaul game this weekend, Marquette had consistently demonstrated a killer instinct. DJ took away will to compete from Vaughn, the entire WVU team gave up, and most recently, Marquette sucked the life out of Providence down the stretch.

There's a lot of pressure on Notre Dame, and pressure does funny things to people. Will Notre Dame come out like a wounded animal, or will Marquette be able to put in another tough effort? One thing is certain. Despite their most recent loss, ND will be Marquette's toughest challenge to date.

Maybe... just maybe, Al will be looking down on the team today. After all, it was eight years ago today that he left this earth (HT: MARQKC). Fire yourself up with this story and then visit his wiki page to remember some unique Al expressions.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 6 pm Milwaukee time.

Notre Dame Strengths and Weaknesses
(As always, this information comes from Pomeroy's scouting report and Game Plan)

1. Protect the ball – Notre Dame is #2 in the country at protecting the ball, turning it over on only 13.9% of all possessions.
a. They are #10 in the country at not letting the ball get stolen
2. Not allowing opponents to shoot free throws – Notre Dame is #5 in the country at not letting their opponent get to the line. A defensive FTR of 23.4% (FTA/FGA)
3. Making three pointers – Notre Dame is #15 in the country at shooting the ball from behind the arc, making 39.5% of shots from behind the arc.

1. Forcing turnovers – Notre Dame is #336 in the country at forcing turnovers, turning opponents over on only 16.7% of all possessions
2. Getting to the free throw line – Notre Dame is #341 in the country at offensive free throw rate (25.6% of FTA / FGA)
3. Blocking shots – ND is #276 in the country at blocking shots

Specific Statistics Recommendations (In order of importance)
1. Keep ND off the Offensive Glass (OR% below 26%). This translates to 11 offensive rebounds or less, which is three less than their season average
2. Don’t let ND make more shots than normal (eFG% of 52% or less)
3. Protect the ball extremely well (TO% at 12% or lower) - This is nine turnovers or less, which is four fewer turnovers than average
4. Make shots (eFG% of 52% or higher)
5. Turn Notre Dame over (turnover rate of 15% or higher), which is 11 turnovers (one more than their season average)

Bottom line
Pomeroy predicts a 51% chance of victory, but unfortunately, my model predicts we will lose (46%) in a slightly faster game (71 possessions). But let's be honest... that's basically a toss-up game. Because MU plays terrible defense on the road, and ND just doesn't play defense, the model predicts an offensively oriented game. ND’s advantage is expected to come from effective field goal percentage and free throw rate. The other areas of turnover rate and offensive rebounding are expected to be very close. Do not expect Marquette to get a high free throw rate or force a lot of turnovers in this game.

Media Updates


TomW1365 said...

Vote for MU for best Big East team


Championships Matter said...

Like heck Marquette doesn't need this game more than Notre Dame does. What are you guys smoking?

Here's the lowdown:

1) We haven't played many top caliber teams yet. The loss at Tennessee is more troubling given the self-destruct the Vols have undergone since December. We beat Villanova, which is a second tier team in the Big East and the best road win of the year has been North Carolina State. We need this one to establish ourselves and improve our tournament resume.

2) It's Notre Dame. C'mon guys, beating Notre Dame just feels good. It's kinda like the Packers beating the Bears. Sure, it's just another game in the standings (and probably doesn't matter given the poor general play of the Bears in recent years), but there's a psychological edge that arises from beating Notre Dame at South Bend.

3)It means this week's ranking matters!

Patrick said...

I'm probably off base here, but I smell something rotten here, based on MU's history. Several times over the last decade, whenever we hit a high position in the Top 25 is when we begin our mid-season slide. Notre Dame needs this game bad, we just jumped to No. 8 in both polls, and our game against lowly DePaul was less than inspiring. I hope the team has changed enough, and that DePaul was enough of a wake-up call, but I smell a two- or three-game slide coming soon.