Marquette Golden Eagles
Big East Conference (22-11, 11-7)
Big Wins: 11/26 vs Xavier (71-61), 1/6 Georgetown (62-59), 3/11 vs Villanova (80-76)
Bad Losses: 12/5 NC State (73-77), 1/20 at DePaul (50-51), 3/6 Notre Dame (60-63)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2009, Second Round loss to Missouri
Coach: Buzz Williams (1-1 in 1 NCAA appearance)
Why They Can Surprise:
Things change quickly when Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Dominic James leave the backcourt. However, Marquette has a new set of guards who have done a superb job taking care of the ball and feeding the talented big man under the basket. While lacking the dynamic scoring ability of the departed trio, this group takes smart shots and is one of the best three-pointing shooting teams in the nation. The surprise is sophomore Darius Johnson-Odom. He was a highly regarded junior college recruit, but few expected him to hit 50 percent of his 4.6 long ball attempts per game.
Maurice Acker does not take as many shots from long range, but he is hovering around the 50 percent mark as well. Acker is also a superb defender and a the team’s best passer. David Cubillan is not on the same level of scoring as Johnson-Odom or Acker, but he is another ballhandler who has done a great job keeping the team under control. And, of course, he is a fine outside shooter as well.
Why They Can Disappoint:
There is no doubt that Lazar Hayward is the star of this team. He is leading the team with 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds. Despite being undersized for a center at 6-6 and 225 pounds, Hayward makes up for it with hustle and athletic ability. But that is the problem with this team. They completely lack size and Hayward is not much of a shot blocking threat. That allows many opposing teams to have their way in the paint. Hayward has proven that his strength can take on some of the best big men in the Big East, but he cannot play all the time. That leaves 6-7, 205 pound Joseph Fulce. As the only other forward on the roster that plays significant minutes, Fulce is asked to do a lot off the bench. He will not score much, but that is fine as long as he plays tough and grabs a few rebounds.
Who To Watch:
The usual starter at the four spot is 6-6 wing Jimmy Butler. While Butler has turned from a roleplayer to a star, his lack of size makes him a liability on the defensive end of the floor. Yet, Butler has turned into a solid rebounder and a great scorer who can stretch out the defense with his outside shot or beat bigger defenders off the dribble. Butler has to do a lot for this team on the glass and defensively in addition to his usual scoring. The third best rebounder on the team is Dwight Buycks and he is a 6-3 guard. Marquette has found a way to win games against bigger opponents, but that cannot last forever.
Maurice Acker, Senior, Guard, 8.5 ppg, 3.7 apg
David Cubillan, Senior, Guard, 6.6 ppg, 2.8 apg
Darius Johnson-Odom, Sophomore, Guard, 12.8 ppg, 2.3 apg
Jimmy Butler, Junior, Guard, 14.9 ppg, 2.1 apg, 6.4 rpg
Lazar Hayward, Senior, Forward, 18.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 spg
Dwight Buycks, Junior, Guard, 6.4 ppg, 2.2 apg
Joseph Fulce, Junior, Forward, 3.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.8 (79th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.6 (54, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.4 (78, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.1 (225, 15)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (39, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.9 (11, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.5 (20, 2)
Rebound Margin: 0.0 (195, 13)
Assists Per Game: 15.4 (34, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.4 (7, 1)
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