After thrashing the whiny Badgers on Saturday, the Warriors will lace'em up tonight against Washington (4-2) in Madison Square Garden. Tonight's game will be the fifth tilt away from home for MU already, and the team's fourth neutral court game of the season. Location aside let's hope the Warriors don't go all Wolfpack and suffer the consequences of a spectacular hangover on national television.
Ruffies or not, Rob thinks MU wins comfortably as long as the Warriors defend well (UW is not a good defensive team, so MU will score -- a lot). Still, don't expect any "Dead Badgers" tonight, but we'll take a few turkeys as a key to victory. Pomeroy figures MU has a 77% win probability, with the team's smothering defense as the key factor. So far this season the Warriors have held four teams to an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of less than 40%. In 37 games last season MU achieved this elite level of defense just three times.
The Huskies have a good offense (#36 - though it is not as good as Marquette's) and a slightly worse defense (#74) that is one of the worst in the nation at defending the three point shot. On offense look for the young Huskies to launch a lot of three-pointers themselves, where they hit at a rate of nearly 43% as a team (wow). We'll be watching closely to see if this area of defense for Marquette, which was previously a giant weakness, can match up against Washington. In addition, in both of the Huskies' losses, the team was shut down offensively.
Note that the Huskies are both one of the tallest (#22) and least experienced (#295) teams in the country. Be thankful we're playing them early this season instead of later. They are also one of the fastest teams in the country, which will be a welcome change from the plodding pace of the Badgers.
A national television game with Dick Vitale doing the call is Big-Time (though I'll mute that big and rely on the McIlvaine radio call). We expect the bright lights of the big city, as well as the grinding attitude of Marquette's defense, to ultimately result in MU pulling away easily. Ring out Ahoya!
Oh, Marquette has a new athletic director. Welcome to the family, Larry Williams. Williams' background as an athlete, lawyer and administrator should make him ideally suited for this kind of role. Also, it was good to see Father Pilarz work through a solid process to identify what MU needed and then work swiftly to make it happen.
In case you missed it, please take the time to read Charlie Pierce's Grantland column about Marquette basketball. You'll be glad you did.