Tonight at 6 pm Milwaukee time, Marquette takes on Stan Heath and the South Florida Bulls (7-14, 2-7). This is Marquette's second game of a three game road trip. Their opponent, South Florida, is coming off a 65-48 loss at St. John's.
This is Marquette's first trip back to South Florida since Jerel McNeal stole the ball to win the game 70-68. In fact, Rosiak's blog entry leads with McNeal's recollection of that game, which he calls "right up there with some of the best (victories)". However, as McNeal also highlights, that was one of those road games that MU seemed destined to choke away before McNeal's late game heroics. In addition, if you recall, last year's game with South Florida was a similarly scrappy game that Marquette won ugly. Finally, although USF's only two wins are against DePaul, the team managed to play Syracuse, Louisville, and Villanova all close at home. Add it all up, and as the bus advertisement says, expect an ugly game.
The key contributor on the Bulls is 6'4 sophomore Dominique Jones, who averages 18.3 points per game. South Florida also gets contributions from 6'10 freshman Augustus Gloop, er Gilchrist (10.5 pts, 4.8 rebounds), and 6'4 senior Jesus Verdejo (13.6 ppg). In other news, USF used to get contributions from 6'4 junior Mike Mercer, but he was recently dismissed from the team.
Game time is 6 pm Milwaukee time. Check here for your local TV clearances.
Moving on to South Florida's strengths and weaknesses.
As usual, most of this information comes from Pomeroy's scouting report
1. Defensive eFG% - South Florida is #82 in the country at defensive eFG% (46.5%). They are better at 3-point field-goal defense (#54), limiting opponents to 31.7% from behind the arc
2. Offensive Rebounding – South Florida is #85 in the country at offensive rebounding percentage (35.7%)
3. Keeping the pace slow – USF has the #304 slowest pace in the country (63.2 possessions per game). That is molasses slow.
1. Offensive eFG% - USF is #271 in the country at effective field goal percentage. They only have an eFG% of 46%. Their team is particularly bad at FTs (#340), but also bad at 2-point (#270) and 3-point (#240)
2. Giving up offensive rebounds – South Florida gives up an offensive rebounding percentage of 35.8% (#280 in the country)
3. Forcing turnovers – USF is #269 in the country at forcing turnovers (only 18.9% of all defensive possessions result in a turnover)
4. Stopping free throws – USF is #265 in the country at letting opponents get to the line (FTA/FGA = 41.1%)
Specific Statistics Recommendations (In order of importance)
1. Stop USF from making shots (eFG% less than 48.4%), or from making shots better than their average
2. Make shots (eFG% higher than 47%). If MU is even close to their standard shooting percentage, the team wins by 10 points or more
3. Force turnovers (TO Rate higher than 22%)
4. Don’t commit turnovers (turnover rate at 15% or less), which is less than average. If MU gets sloppy against an opponent that doesn't force many turnovers, the game will get a lot tighter.
5. Prevent offensive rebounds (USF OR% of 34% or less)
Although Pomeroy predicts an 80% chance of victory, we are slightly less bullish with a percentage of 71%. We predict a very slow game (64 possessions) and a five point Marquette victory. Expect Marquette to lose on eFG% and OR%, but win based on advantages at turnover rate and FTR. Offense and defense are predicted to be worse than average. This will be one tough, ugly, slow game.
- Here's the GoMarquette.com official release, including their always enjoyable game notes.
- The GoMarquette.com site also has podcasts from Buzz Williams, Dominic James, and Jimmy Butler
- The previously mentioned Rosiak Blog
- There's also an interesting story in the Journal-Sentinel about Marquette's tradition of trendsetting uniforms
- Here's the view from South Florida