After two weeks in a tailspin, the Marquette Warriors might have finally stumbled on a bit of good luck when St. John's upset the favored Georgetown Hoyas in the opening round of the BIG EAST Tournament. With that upset the Redmen, winners in three of their last four outings, advanced to play Marquette on Wednesday afternoon.
On instant message today, Rob was running numbers from his database for tomorrow's matchup and the first pull showed at 41% chance of winning tomorrow's game.......against Georgetown. After the Red Storm's spirited win against their historic BIG EAST rival the numbers show a 69% chance of victory and a 5-point win for MU on Wednesday.
Needless to say a bit of optimism is never a bad thing -- especially for a team trying desperately to end a four-game skid with the NCAA tournament looming.
Earlier this season Marquette rolled St John's 73-59 at the Bradley Center behind Jerel McNeal's 20 points. In our game preview for that tilt, we noted several key points about the Redmen. Most notably the Johnnies are a terrific offensive rebounding team and are solid at blocking shots, though they defend the three-pointer poorly (#303 in the nation). Also, the Redmen struggle to protect the ball and and are generally rotten from the field when they do manage to put up shots.
Specific Statistics Recommendations (In order of importance)
- Stop SJU from making shots (eFG% of 49% or less). Season-average eFG for St. John's is 46.5%, so basically don't let them shoot much better than normal. Paris Horne, Sean Evans, and Rob Thomas are their most efficient scorers.
- Make shots (MU eFG% of 54% or higher). Of course, as Pudner showed us earlier today Marquette's offense is not delivering as we'd hope sans James. Still, St. John's does not defend the three-pointer well.
- Force turnovers. (TO Rate of 21% or higher for SJU). St. John's only turned the ball over 13 times against the Hoyas on Tuesday. Nevertheless, the Redmen are #228 in the nation at protecting the ball. Guard Malik Boothe coughs it up 30% of the time, and 6'8 sophomore Justin Burrell turns the ball over on 23% of all possessions. Marquette will want to avoid trying to strip Paris Horne (only 16%) or Rob Thomas (10%)
- Prevent offensive rebounds (SJU OR% of 36% or less -- which is just below their season average of 38%). This should be about twelve offensive rebounds for the Johnnies. St. John's pulled down 12 ORBs today against Georgetown. Someone needs to keep a body on Sean Evans (OR% of 11.5%) and Rob Thomas (15.6%)
- Grab offensive rebounds (MU OR% of 25% or higher - which is well below our season average of 35%). For the Johnnies, Sean Evans, DJ Kennedy, and Justin Burrell all do a pretty good job on the defensive boards. Will MU be able to exploit any of these matchups?
Tipoff is scheduled for roughly 1:20pm CDT on Wednesday.
joint post between Rob and Tim