Now that Marquette (4-0) is done with cupcakes, the season truly begins with the 2009 Old Spice Classic. MU's opening round matchup against Xavier (3-0) is set for 1pm on Thanksgiving Day. The game will be MU's first national broadcast on the season, shown on ESPN2 with Lou Canellis and Len Elmore (yay) calling the action.
Here is the Marquette Official Release, including their Game Notes. Did you know that Xavier is one of our longest-running rivalries? Marquette owns a 42-16 advantage in the series (***though I must admit that Xavier's 98-93 overtime win over MU in 1991 was the most disappointing loss of my undergraduate days at MU....Jamie Gladden and Jamal Walker were a helluva backcourt. MU should have won that game.).
Let's get back to the topic at-hand.
Marquette has cruised to a 4-0 record against a group of teams that can charitably be called 'weak'. Still, winning games against the likes of Little Debbie, Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines is good for the ego and likely the right call for a team so heavily reliant on newcomers.
Among MU's positives this season has been the consistent scoring of Jimmy Butler. The 6'6" junior came into his own late last season, excelling as a role player in March. So far this season Butler has been extraordinarily efficient on the offensive end and continues to be one of MU's most reliable rebounders. It is still very early but Butler's Offensive Rating is 160 at a usage of just 14%. Keep in mind that 100 is average and 120 is very, very good. For the season Butler is averaging 17 points and nearly 7 rebounds per game.
Seniors David Cubillan and Maurice Acker, oft-maligned by yours truly, are both enjoying a renaissance during their last collegiate season. The tough-minded Cubillan is displaying the shooting form he demonstrated early in his career. The Venezuelan native is connecting on 50% of his shots from the floor and better than 38% from deep, marked improvements from his abysmal performance last season (27% from the floor and 29% from behind the arc). Meanwhile Acker is sizzling from the field in the early going, hitting on 50% of his shots including 50% from deep. Perhaps Acker's little sleeve thingy is somewhat of a good luck charm.
From a stats-perspective, Xavier has also been playing a bit of a cupcake schedule, and they've been crushing it. After three games, Pomeroy considers them the tenth best team in the country, but honestly, it's way too early. However, here are some things to look at for Xavier.
- They have been hitting an eFG% of almost 67%. The Musketeers are making 60% of their two-point shots and 54% of their threes. IU transfer Jordan Crawford is pouring in 21 points per game and shooting better than 61% from the floor through the season's first 3 outings.
- Xavier is suffocating the interior defense, and limiting opponents to 36% inside. 6'9" forward Jason Love is a big reason why with nearly twelve boards per game (not to mention the 13 points per game he's averaging).
- They've also been stopping opponents from hitting the boards (only allowing an OR% of 21%)
- Their one weakness is that they don't force a lot of turnovers (14.1% forced). So one of the areas that is a real Marquette strength (protecting the ball) won't really matter against XU....... sweet
PS - Rosiak had another chat two nights ago. More good stuff from Todd.
Want to see what the Musketeer fans think about today's game? Visit their board for more.
**Joint post by Rob Lowe and Tim Blair