"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

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Break 2003 Marquette vs. 2010 West Virginia

The time between Christmas Eve decorating and 10 p.m. Mass left just enough time to play the 2003 Marquette team in their first round East Region vs. the 2010 West Virginia team in Value Add Basketball (click for free game). Like Marquette 2003, West Virginia 2010 stunned a great Kentucky team (No. 2 in 2010 and No. 1 in 2003) in the Elite 8 before falling hard in the Final Four.

The 1977 Marquette team already defeated Rick Majerus' Utah 1998 Final Four team in the 96 All-Time Great Teams West Region,

The Marquette-West Virginia winner would advance to the second round to play the 2018 National Champions from Villanova, the 4-seed in our East Region.

The game proved a great show down between Da'Sean Butler and Dwyane Wade. With eight minutes left, both had drawn four fouls on the other in a back and forth game. Wade scored a game-high 25 points to best Butler (18 points), however with Marquette bringing it up the court down 70-68, Butler stole the ball to start a fast break and Wade fouled out at the other end.

Travis Diener helped Marquette retake the lead 74-73 with their high powered offense even without Wade (the game starts 20-20 and the 44 possessions are played out in the game, so 74 is a strong showing against a great defense like Huggins Mountaineers). However, I was reminded Marquette's defense was actually one of the worst to ever make a Final Four.

With two possessions left for each team, West Virginia missed but Devin Ebanks grabbed the rebound and scored - which was the 8th time in the game that either Ebanks or Kevin Jones grabbed an offensive rebound and scored.

Robert Jackson actually had a game-high 10 rebounds to give Marquette a 35-32 lead on the boards, but I noticed both Jackson and Jones were great offensive rebounders but not as great on the defensive boards - and in fact I checked after the game and West Virginia led the nation in offensive rebounds that year. While Marquette's player cards appeared to make them a slight favorite in the game and dice give the same basic variance as games - it also appeared West Virginia may have had the right strength in offensive rebounding to exploit Marquette's weakness.

Based on www.kenpom.com Marquette 2003 had the second best offense in the country, but only the 109th best defense overall and only the 251st best defensive rebounding team (one of the worst 100 in the country).

One other interesting stat is that Steve Novak - who plays 15 possessions of the 44 in the game based on his freshmen minutes that year was fouled three times. Free throws are determined by a 20-sided die with the higher rolls being the missed free throws. Three of Novak's six rolls were a 19, 19 and 20 - but because Novak is one of the only 1-19 free throw made (rounded to 95%) of early 1000 player cards in the game - that resulted in five of his six free throws being good. I guess you could say the two 19s actually touched the rim, and the real Steve Novak would have likely spent the whole night correcting his free throws.

Here is the East Bracket after Marquette's loss. The 1977 team is in the West Region.

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