"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

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Marquette Faces Gonzaga in Jesuit Grudge Match


Still smarting from the loss last night? Still reveling in hanging tough with the #1 team in the nation? Scroll down for Tim's recap below, and then GET OVER IT, because we've got more hoops tonight!

In the third place game, Marquette faces off against #22 Gonzaga in a battle of Jesuit basketball programs. Last night, the Zags fell to #3 K-State 81-64. Gonzaga is arguably the most consistent Jesuit basketball program in recent history, having made the NCAA tournament every year since 1999. Game time is 6:45 Milwaukee Standard Time on ESPNU.

However, that ranking that Gonzaga has next to their name? Don't be impressed. They've lost two straight and will fall out of the rankings after this week. Sure, one of those was in a road game to the #3 team in the country. Still, we'll dig into the stats and see where opportunities lie.

What Gonzaga does well

Offensive Rebounding - Gonzaga are the #22 team in the country at crashing the offensive boards. They grab almost 43% of their missed shots. In a matchup of strength vs strength, Marquette is #31 in the country at defensive rebounding.

Offensive eFG% - Gonzaga are pretty solid at offensive eFG% (#49 in the country). Most of this comes from inside the arc, where the Zags make almost 55% of their baskets. Gonzaga are only average at shooting three pointers. This is another matchup of strength vs strength, because Marquette is much better at defending two-point baskets.

And... that's it. Both of the areas where Gonzaga are strong are also aspects that Marquette does well. MU will need to continue to do well in order to win tonight.

Here's where Gonzaga are weak

Defense! They are not good at defense. Consider this. Gonzaga are #236 in the country at defensive eFG%. They're not good inside the arc (#230) or at perimeter defense (#217). Considering Marquette is #38 in the country at scoring two-point baskets, Marquette needs to exploit this matchup. Maybe it's even a time for our anemic three point shooting to get healthy. Advantage: Marquette

Defensive Rebounding - In particular, Gonzaga are #206 in the country at defensive rebounding. Marquette are the #42 team in the country at crashing the offensive glass. Another advantage for MU to capitalize on.

Protecting the ball - Gonzaga are #133 in the country at protecting the ball. Of course, this hasn't exactly been an area of strength for Marquette this year. However, it is worth noting that last night Marquette won the turnover battle against Duke, and Duke has been one of the best teams in the country at turnover margin so far.


Reading the stats, it appears that Gonzaga favor a fast pace where they outlet the ball quickly for transition baskets and offensive rebounding. This results in somewhat loose protection of the ball. It's tough to get any read on their defense other than forcing some turnovers. However, only having watched about five minutes of the game last night, who knows how accurate this summary will be.

In conclusion, the areas that Gonzaga are strong are also areas where Marquette are strong. Our strengths of defensive rebounding and paint defense will need to stay solid, while Marquette exploits opportunities at scoring inside (and outside) and offensive rebounding. The stats say that Marquette are a slight favorite in tonight's game. We believe this Jesuit basketball matchup goes to the school from Milwaukee.


GoMarquette.com has their preview, as well as the Game Notes

Rosiak has a solid preview of the game.

The Slipper Still Fits (Gonzaga Blog) wonders If Toughness Can be Taught

Marquette Basketball: Revealed looks at the team for their gameday preparations before Duke. Really quick turnarounds on these episodes lately.

updated with Slipper Still Fits and MU Basketball Revealed links

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