Opportunity for Revenge At Hand:

Pittsburgh's Antonio Graves, left, follows Marquette's Dominic James (1) as he grimaces after being fouled by Pittsburgh's LeVance Fields in the second half of the college basketball game in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2006. James left the court but returned to play later.

Looking for their eighth victory in the Big East, and their fifth against top 50 RPI teams, Marquette could all but lock up a bid to the 2006 NCAA Tournament with a win Saturday night. However, a stern test in the #9 ranked Pittsburgh Panthers stands in the way of this all important victory.

"We're playing one of most efficient teams in America," stated Marquette head coach Tom Crean. "They're really solid at all of the important things."

Three weeks ago, Pittsburgh defeated Marquette 77-71. Marquette lead from the start of the game up until when point guard Dominic James left the game with a shoulder injury, while Marquette was leading 47-44. After James went out, the Panthers took control of the game, as James's replacements struggled with turnovers.

Another key in the first match-up was the play of Pittsburgh's stars. Aaron Gray had 13 points, and an astounding 20 rebounds, and Carl Krauser had 16 points and 6 assists. Having seen them once already, Marquette anticipates the chance to face off against them again.

"Being able to match up with great players like that is something you always look forward to," stated senior forward Steve Novak.

"Aaron Gray is as good of a big man passer as we've seen," added Crean.

Normally using a larger rotation this year, Marquette only played eight men in the 57-51 victory over Georgetown. With a game against a real physical Pittsburgh team just 48 hours later, Marquette might be forced to deepen the bench tomorrow night.

"Tomorrow we might have to play a lot more guys," said Crean. "Pittsburgh plays ten guys, and they all can play real well."

While the match-up against Pittsburgh will be real tough, a win can give Marquette some serious momentum as they prepare to head on the road for games against rivals Notre Dame and Louisville.

"We've looked forward to this time as soon as the schedule came out, having the opportunity to play back to back big games," stated Marquette head coach Tom Crean. "The chance to play two national level teams, having the games fall at a great time with the focus of the sporting world on college basketball because of the NBA All-Star break."

Pittsburgh Projected starting line-up:
G-#4 Ronald Ramon, 6'1 sophomore, 8.0 points, 2.5 assists per game, 43.9% from three
G-#11 Carl Krauser, 6'2 senior, 15.7 points, 4.4 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.9 steals per game
F-#0 John DeGroat, 6'6 senior, 3.3 points, 1.8 rebounds per game
F-#14 Levon Kendall, 6'9 junior, 6.9 points, 5.4 rebounds per game
C-#33 Aaron Gray, 7'0 junior, 14.2 points, 10.7 rebounds per game, 53.6% from field

Key Reserves:
F-#23 Sam Young, 6'6 freshman, 8.3 points, 4.2 rebounds per game, 51.6% from field
G-#2 Levance Fields, 5'10 freshman, 5.4 points, 2.3 assists per game, 41.9% from three
G-#1 Keith Benjamin, 6'2 sophomore, 5.6 points, 3.0 rebounds per game, 43.3% from three
G-#22 Antonio Graves, 6'3 junior, 3.8 points per game
F-#5 Tyrell Biggs, 6'8 freshman, 2.2 points per game

Marquette Hoops Top Stories