The two teams this year enter the contest in different situations: Buzz Williams may have his best team at Marquette since his arrival while Lorenzo Romar's Huskies really need a marquee non-conference victory for the resumes of both themselves and the much-maligned Pac-12. Both teams have outstanding perimeter players but the one that stands out at first glance is Marquette senior Darius Johnson-Odom (19.4 ppg, 3.3 apg, 3.1 rpg), an electric athlete who can definitely be described as a "power guard".
"DJO" is shooting 54% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc, and his physical tools combined with a good basketball IQ make him one of the country's best and most efficient guards. Joining Johnson-Odom in the backcourt are sophomore Vander Blue (10.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and freshman Todd Mayo (9.6 ppg), who provides quite the spark off the bench. It remains to be seen if junior point guard Junior Cadougan plays after being suspended for Saturday's win at Wisconsin, but either way the Golden Eagles should be fine.
Washington will counter with a pair of very good sophomore wings: C.J. Wilcox (15.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and Terrence Ross (16.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg), with Wilcox being the superior shooter (51.4% 3PT) while Ross is more likely to attack the basket. Abdul Gaddy (9.7 ppg, 5.3 apg) runs the show from the point while freshman Tony Wroten (8.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) is normally the first player off the bench. The key for Wroten, to remain in control, is a simple on in theory but still a concept that he struggled with at times. Against a team that gets after it defensively like Marquette, issues in that area could cause serious issues for the Huskies.
While the perimeter play will be on the marquee so to speak, the interior play of both teams may end up being the determining factor in who wins. Marquette features forward Jae Crowder (16.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg), a versatile forward who is more of a hybrid as opposed to fitting into either the "3" or "4". On the season Crowder's shooting 57.4% from the field and 42.4% from beyond the arc, and his ability to attack the basket on the wings could prove to be problematic for Washington should they decide to match a bigger man on him.
At center it's better to think of starter Chris Otule and reserve Devante Gardner as one person in a sense; combined they average 13 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Crowder is Marquette's leading rebounder, and this is a task that the Golden Eagles handle more as a committee than anything. For Washington senior big man Aziz N'Diaye leads the Huskies in rebounding with an average of 8.7 boards per game, but they're similar to Marquette in that they call on all hands in this department as well.
Washington has a better rebounding margin than Marquette, boasting a plus-6.2 while Marquette has a margin of plus-3.9. The key for Marquette is to keep the Huskies off the offensive glass; the Huskies grab 14 offensive rebounds per game, which is good for a percentage of 38.2. Marquette's opponents have averaged a similar number on the season, but the Golden Eagles also force a turnovers on 25% of their defensive possessions. Outside of the rebounding Marquette has been the better defensive team of the two, and if the Husky guards don't value the basketball they'll find themselves in trouble.
In the first game of the Jimmy V, #10 Missouri takes on Villanova in a game that could get ugly quick if the Wildcats aren't careful. Frank Haith may not employ the full-court pressure preferred by the now-departed Mike Anderson but players such as Marcus Denmon, Michael Dixon Jr. and the Pressey brothers (Matt and Phil) are still extremely difficult to deal with as defenders. If anything this Missouri group is similar to the 2005-06 Villanova team that reached the Elite 8 essentially playing four guards, with senior Kim English being in a role similar to that of Randy Foye (albeit not as explosive offensively). Maalik Wayns will need to lead the young Villanova guards, and it won't hurt to have junior wing Dominic Cheek play one of his better games as well.
Memphis visits a Miami team that won't have Reggie Johnson to throw the ball inside to until next month but Florida transfer Kenny Kadji has been solid in his stead. The key for Memphis: Tarik Black needs to stay on the floor. Black is immensely talented but prone to committing silly fouls, and such a start could get Josh Pastner's team in trouble if this happens Tuesday night. Long Beach State and Marshall are on the road looking for another BCS AQ scalp to add to their resume while George Mason visits Virginia in a game that likely will go down to the wire, and in the midwest games such as Texas Tech/TCU and Iowa/Northern Iowa should command attention as well.
Top 25 Games
7:00 PM Marshall at (3) Syracuse (SNY)
7:00 PM Evansville at (6) North Carolina (ESPNU)
7:00 PM (10) Missouri vs. Villanova* (ESPN)
9:00 PM Washington vs. (11) Marquette* (ESPN)
9:00 PM Long Beach State at (13) Kansas (ESPNU)
7:00 PM VMI at (14) Pittsburgh
9:00 PM (20) Memphis at Miami (FL) (ESPN2)
NCAA Division I Games
6:15 PM Philander Smith at Arkansas-Little Rock
7:00 PM Quinnipiac at Hartford
7:00 PM Massachusetts at East Carolina
7:00 PM Holy Cross at Columbia
7:00 PM Virginia-Wise at Furman
7:00 PM Kent State at James Madison
7:00 PM George Mason at Virginia ESPN 3
7:00 PM Houston at Texas State
7:00 PM Bucknell at Binghamton
7:00 PM Robert Morris at Duquesne
7:00 PM Alice Lloyd College at Gardner-Webb
7:00 PM UNC Wilmington at Liberty
7:00 PM Monmouth at Navy
7:00 PM Charlotte at Radford
7:00 PM N.J.I.T. at Seton Hall
7:00 PM Texas Tech at TCU (CBSSN)
7:00 PM Hofstra at Wagner
7:00 PM Tulane at Wofford
7:05 PM Coastal Carolina at Citadel
7:30 PM Delaware State at Howard
7:30 PM Tennessee-Martin at Lipscomb
7:45 PM Fredonia State at Youngstown State
8:00 PM Prairie View A&M at Iowa State
8:00 PM Northeastern at Bradley
8:00 PM Appalachian State at Minnesota (BTN)
8:00 PM UT Arlington at Texas Longhorn Network
8:00 PM Tennessee State at Belmont
8:00 PM North Carolina Central at Eastern Kentucky
8:00 PM Nebraska-Omaha at Benedictine
8:00 PM Northwestern State at Louisiana Tech
8:00 PM Iowa at Northern Iowa (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Southwest St (MN) at South Dakota State
8:30 PM Ball State at SIU-Edwardsville
9:05 PM Utah Valley at Utah State (ESPN3)
10:00 PM Hawaii at Pacific (ESPN3)