Marquette Golden Eagles (19-9, 10-6 Big East) vs. Louisville Cardinals (19-10, 10-6 Big East)
Bradley Center – Milwaukee, WI
Tuesday night, 8:30 pm CST
TV: ESPN U
Marquette will look for their fourth straight victory Tuesday night as they enter their final home-stand of the season against arch-rival Louisville.
The Golden Eagles enter Tuesday's matchup fresh off of a thrilling result against Seton Hall, marking the team's third straight over time win in as many games. The victory also allowed Marquette to join Pittsburgh as the only other team to win ten or more Big East conference games in each of the last five seasons.
Despite having their fair share of struggles throughout the year, Louisville has recently regained their mantra and Rick Pitino once again looks to have a sound basketball team entering March.
The Cardinals are winners of four of their last five games and are coming off of a nail-biting win of their own – a 78-76 decision over Connecticut Sunday. The most notable game during this stretch however was a resume-making road victory over conference-leading Syracuse.
Leading the way for Louisville is the veteran back court of Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa. The seniors don't always put up the flashiest numbers in the world, but nonetheless are two of the conference's most battle-tested guards.
Sosa has slowly been able to develop into the point guard that Rick Pitino always desired him to be. His shot selection has improved and he is really begun to embrace his role as the team's quarterback. He leads the team in assists and still manages to be second in scoring. As his game-winning lay-up in the waning seconds Sunday indicates, Sosa is a shifty guard who prefers to take his defender off the dribble. His outside shot still however must be respected.
Rounding out the backcourt is Wauwatosa East graduate, Jerry Smith. Smith possesses a slightly larger frame than Sosa but tends to play very similarly. Traditionally Smith has been one of Louisville's better three-point threats, but this season his numbers are way down as he is shooting a mere 28% from distance. This has lent to him taking a more proactive approach off the dribble and he is now attacking the basket more.
Marquette fans should be leery of Smith's streaking shooting however as he has stung them from deep in the past – see Smith's game-winning 35-footer from February of 2007.
While experience is the underlying theme of the backcourt, it is that of youth for the frontcourt.
This year it is a trio of sophomores that provide Louisville with the size and athleticism that they have become so well known for. Samuardo Samuels is the main piece of the puzzle as he leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. The 6'9" sophomore is an intimidating presence and can really hurt you around the basket if you don't constantly put a body on him.
Teaming with Samuels up front are Jared Swopshire and Terrence Jennings. Swopshire is the more athletic of the two and has shown great improvement since last season. The 6'8" forward can be expected to run the baseline and even show out around the wing, but is most effective crashing the boards in search of second chance points. Jennings is a bit taller at 6'10" and tends to orient himself around the blocks. His minutes tend to fluctuate, but he is a good rebounder and can hurt smaller teams with his size.
The Cardinals sport a good bit of depth and tend to go about nine deep. It's this depth that allows Rick Pitino to create a very up-tempo style of basketball. Louisville is a very physical team and is quite pesky on the defensive end. They will show a full-court press, trap, and rotate between zone and man-to-man defenses in the half court. Creating turnovers is what feeds the Cardinal attack and when they get the chance they love to get out and run.
Look for Louisville to try and wear down a smaller and thinner Marquette team. The Cardinals will likely press from the start and try and speed up the game whenever possible. It is pertinent for Marquette to not only take good care of the ball but to also have great shot selection as errant shots can lead to easy transitions baskets for Louisville.
With the history of close games that these two teams have, coupled with the fact that they are both on the NCAA tournament bubble there is no reason to believe that we will see anything less than a classic on Al McGuire night Tuesday at the Bradley Center.
Probable Cardinal Starters
G – Jerry Smith (6'2" 190 lb Senior) --- (8.4 ppg, 2.0 apg)
G – Edgar Sosa (6'2" 175 lb Senior) --- (13.3 ppg, 4.4 apg)
G/F – Reginald Delk (6'5" 200 lb Senior) --- (6.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
F – Jared Swopshire (6'8" 220 lb Sophomore) --- (7.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
F – Samuardo Samuels (6'9" 260 lb Sophomore) --- (16.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
F – Terrence Jennings (6'10" 240 lb Sophomore) --- (5.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
G – Preston Knowles (6'1" 190 lb Junior) --- (7.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
G – Peyton Siva (6'0" 175 lb Freshman) --- (4.1 ppg, 1.6 apg)
Rick Pitino (215-80 9th Season, 568-199 23rd Season Overall - Collegiately)
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