No. 2-Seed Marquette Golden Eagles (25-6, 14-4 BIG EAST) at No. 7-Seed Louisville Cardinals (23-9, 10-8 BIG EAST)
Madison Square Garden–New York, NY.
6:00 PM CST Thursday
TV: ESPN, ESPN3
Broadcast Team: Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Bill Raftery (analyst), and Jay Bilas (analyst)
The Marquette Golden Eagles look to knock off the Louisville Cardinals for the second time this season, in their opening game at the 2012 BIG EAST Tournament.
Back on January 16th in Milwaukee, the Cardinals raced out to an 18-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game. MU was able to storm back as they grabbed a 34-30 lead by intermission. After the break, the Golden Eagles maintained control and cruised to a 74-63 win.
This time around, the Golden Eagles will not have the luxury of playing at the confines of the Bradley Center and in all likelihood cannot afford to fall in such a hole.
They will face a Cardinals team who already has a Big East tournament game under their belt. Last night, Louisville knocked off a gritty Seton Hall team in a low-scoring affair, 61-55.
Low-scoring games have been Louisville's forte of late. In seven-of-their-last-eight contests, they have scored 61 points or less and have shot a combined 35.6 percent from the in those games.
The saving grace for the Cardinals has been their stingy defense. They rank fifth in the country in field goal percentage defense (37.9 percent). In the first matchup, Marquette was held to 41 percent shooting (below their season average of 46 percent) but made up for it by hitting eight three pointers and knocking down 16-of-18 attempts from the line.
Louisville will also have their leading scorer back this time around. Six-foot-five senior Kyle Kuric will face Marquette on Thursday night after missing the first matchup because of a bum ankle.
Meanwhile, Marquette is hoping to get forward Davante Gardner more minutes as well. The six-foot-eight sophomore missed eight games with a knee injury before returning and playing 15 minutes in the Golden Eagles conference finale.
Gardner was vital to the Golden Eagles success in the first meeting, as he scored 17 points and pulled down 6 rebounds. More importantly, he was able to draw fouls on the Cardinals' big men and make Louisville coach Rick Pitino dig deep into his bench.
Expect an all-out war between these two rivals on Thursday night as NCAA seeding implications and BIG EAST pride are on the line in "The Garden".
Lousville Cardinals Projected Starters
G–#3–Peyton Siva (6'0" 180 lbs., Junior) --- (8.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.3 apg, 1.8 spg, 40% FG, 23% 3PT, 72% FT)
G–#5–Chris Smith (6'2" 195 lbs., Senior) --- (10.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.2 apg, 40% FG, 39% 3PT, 75% FT)
G/F–#14–Kyle Kuric (6'4" 195 lbs., Senior) --- (12.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.4 spg, 43% FG, 34% 3PT, 80% FT)
F–#24–Chane Behanan (6'6" 250 lbs., Freshman) --- (9.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 50% FG, 16% 3PT, 59% FT)
C–#10–Gorgui Dieng (6'11" 235 lbs., Sophomore) --- (9.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 3.3 bpg, 53% FG, 67% FT)
G–#2–Russ Smith (6'0" 160 lbs., Sophomore) --- (11.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.9 apg, 2.2 spg, 37% FG, 28% 3PT, 74% FT)
G/F–#25–Wayne Blackshear (6'5" 220 lbs., Freshman) --- (3.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 29% FG, 36% 3PT, 40% FT)
F–#21–Jared Swopshire (6'8" 200 lbs., Junior) --- (3.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 40% FG, 15% 3PT, 66% FT)
C–#12–Zach Price (6'10" 235 lbs., Freshman) --- (0.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 33% FG, 25% FT)
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