"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

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Marquette opens 2011 NCAA Tournament against Seton Hall

The NCAA Tournament starts today for the Marquette Warriors, who have to win (what amounts to) a play-in game this evening at Seton Hall to advance to the first round. While it's true that Marquette's schedule this season has been brutal -- the Warriors' worst loss of the season was to #34 Pomeroy ranked Gonzaga --the team simply doesn't have enough wins to offset its dozen defeats. Win and they're in, it says here.

Seton Hall welcomes the Warriors on their own Senior Day at The Rock. Senior Jeremy Hazell, a 2,000 point scorer in his career with the Pirates, figures to be guy MU must game plan for in order to win. Hazell is surging in the final weeks of his college career, lighting up St. Johns with 31 points in The Hall's convincing 84-70 win earlier this week.

Despite Hazell's scoring prowess, Seton Hall is one of the worst three point shooting teams in the entire nation (#326) and is inefficient in the paint as well (#222). The Hall struggles to hit shots and are a poor offensive rebounding team. One of tonight's keys is essentially a battle of weaknesses -- Seton Hall's inability to make shots and Marquette's inability to defend at a high level. In the Warriors' loss to Cincinnati, MU allowed 1.18 points per possession (ppp) to the 11th 'best' offense in the Big East. Clearly MU has to pick up the defensive efficiency to claim a road win tonight.

One factor that is decidedly in Seton Hall's favor is defense where the Pirates are one of the best in the Big East, and the nation. Seton Hall's adjusted defensive efficiency is the 13th best in the nation at 89.0, second-best in the Big East to Cincinnati. Keep in mind that tne Division 1 average is 101.6, so the Pirates' defensive performance is extraordinary. So here we have strength against strength. The nation's 13th best defensive team against the nation's 14th best offensive team.

Expect a white knuckler tonight. Pomeroy sees MU securing a one-point victory. We agree. Marquette's offensive balance and efficiency is a tough match-up for any team but Seton Hall should neutralize a good bit of any MU advantage. However, the presumption here is that Marquette amps up the defense just enough to walk away with its fourth Big East conference road win of the season. Leading into the Cincy game the Warriors were an improving defensive team, and the hope here is that Wednesday's defensive performance will be nothing more than the outlier in the season's final two weeks.

Ring out Ahoya!

1 comment:

James said...

Its pitiful so much rides on this game. Way to go Buzz, your inability to make second half adjustments may cost us a tourny birth. What a joke. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if MU gets blown out tonight. Our team cannot handle the pressure and lacks the bball intellect to win important road games. Yes, we won a UCONN, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.