The Opponent: MarquetteMarquette defeated Utah State 58-57 to earn the right to face the Missouri Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The biggest story surrounding the Marquette team is their continuing adjustment to life without standout point guard Dominic James. James is out for the year after averaging over 30 minutes, 11 points and 5 assists per game in Marquette's first 28 games. Since James' injury, Marquette has struggled to a 2-4 record.
Without James, the Golden Eagles are forced to heavily lean on the trio of 6-foot-3 guard Jerel McNeal, 6-foot-5 guard Wesley Matthews and 6-foot-6 forward Lazar Hayward. McNeal, Matthews and Hayward all average over 30 minutes and 15 points per game.
Outside of their big three, Marquette has only four players who see regular action.
StatsIt is well known that the Tigers love to get up and down the floor quickly, but the Golden Eagles have not been opposed to running this season as they have averaged over 78 points per game.
In addition to scoring nearly 80 points per game, the Golden Eagles have turned the ball over less than 12 times per game.
The Golden Eagles played only seven players in their win over Utah State, and of their 47 field goal attempts, forty came from their big three.
Marquette offers a different look than Cornell because of their athleticism. The Golden Eagles will not have to play zone defense because they are unable to match-up with Lyons and Carroll. If the Golden Eagles come out in man-to-man, it would not be surprising to see the Tigers let DeMarre Carroll attack Hayward in attempt to get one of Marquette's key players into early foul trouble and delve into the Golden Eagles' already short bench.
However, it will be interesting to see if Buzz Williams, Marquette's head coach, tries to use the zone to slow the game down and keep his players out of foul trouble. With only seven players seeing action against Utah State and the Golden Eagles being so reliant on three players, it will be key for Williams to keep his starters rested and out of foul trouble.
From Head Coach Mike Anderson's point-of-view, Missouri just needs to play its game. Facing a team with a shallow bench who is without their primary point guard would seem to play directly into the Tigers' hands. If the Tigers keep it close in the first half, Missouri fans should like their chances as McNeal, Matthews and Hayward will be coming down the stretch after playing 30+ minutes against the Missouri pressure.