"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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jumpin Jesuit Showdown

In search of its first signature road win of the season, the road-weary Warriors will lace'em up against the Georgetown Hoyas on Sunday afternoon.

Marquette (15-9, 6-5 BIG EAST) is 1-1 on the current road swing, losing late at Villanova and stealing a win against USF earlier this week. With just seven conference games remaining, Marquette has little margin for error in its pursuit of another NCAA tournament bid. However, stealing a win at #11 Georgetown (19-5, 8-4 BIG EAST) will be a tall order. Since opening the BIG EAST schedule at 1-4, the Hoyas are on a hot streak. Georgetown has won seven consecutive games, four of which have come away from home. The signature win during this run was a 64-56 win at Syracuse on Wednesday, as the Hoyas used a 15-3 run down the stretch to pull away for the victory.

Georgetown is led by Naismith Award finalist Austin Freeman, who averages
18.5 points per game and connects on 53% of his field goals overall (45% from three-point territory). Guard Chris Wright averages a dozen points per game to go with five assists, while backcourt running mate Jason Clark is good for a dozen per game as well. For the first time in ages, Georgetown isn't led by a premier big man, and yet they continue to be very good.

How do they do it? According to their Pomeroy stats, Georgetown is great offensively. However, they are only good in one area offensively (eFG%), but even that has them as the #3 team at effective field goal percentage. The Hoyas are #2 inside the arc and #34 at shooting from three. Match that up against Marquette's crappy eFG% defense, and you have a recipe for Georgetown to score early and score often.

Defensively, GU is not as strong and again they are only good in one area. Of course it's the most important area (eFG% again). In particular, the Hoyas are good at preventing opponents from scoring inside the arc. They can give up shots from outside the arc. Finally, GU plays a slow-down tempo (#238 overall), which can be kryptonite for MU's defense. Add it all up and you have quite a few strengths for Georgetown going against Marquette weaknesses. Oh... they're at home.

But let me tell you something. Georgetown hates this matchup. They HATE it. First, the Hoyas are fairly inconsistent defensively. They can give up 1.14 ppp to Providence and hold Syracuse to 0.96. While GU is going to get points, Marquette is probably going to get points too. Second, while Georgetown is good at eFG% on both sides of the ball, they are either not good or downright bad everywhere else. The Hoyas are sloppy with the ball, never force turnovers, and they're mediocre at defensive rebounding. Marquette has a very good chance to match GU at eFG% and take advantage of turnover margin and offensive rebounding. Finally, just note that Hoya Prospectus recently placed Georgetown as the 9th best team in the league. MU was #3. I'm not saying Georgetown is a pretender... well, maybe I am.

Does any of this mean Marquette is going to win? No, but like always, MU has more than a puncher's chance. If only they would press more to increase the pace of the game. We're not ones to to be homers on game predictions, but we think the Warriors finally lock down that elusive quality road win.

Tipoff for the game is scheduled for 12pm Marquette Standard Time. The game will be broadcast on ESPN and called by Mike Patrick and Len Elmore. Bah.

Finally, according to the Official MU Game Notes the game is part of the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight. "The Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project is a nationwide effort to identify basketball games between Jesuit schools and, through those games, bring greater positive awareness to Jesuit education and mission. This project was developed by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) in response to member institutions wanting to spread the word of Jesuit higher education through the more than 90 basketball games in which Jesuit institutions play each other." Go Jesuits!

*joint post by Tim and Rob

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