(4) Marquette vs. (13) Brigham Young: West Region
Marquette 25-7, 14-4 Big East (At large)
BYU 26-8, 12-4 WCC (At large)
Time: 2:45 p.m. Thursday
Location: KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
Winner will face: (6) Murray State or (11) Colorado State, Saturday
Marquette No. 11 AP; No. 11 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
Players to Watch
Marquette: F Jae Crowder, 6-6 Sr. (17.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.4 spg); G Darius Johnson-Odom, 6-2 Sr. (18.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg); G Junior Cadougan, 6-1 Jr. (6.5 ppg, 5.5 apg, 1.2 spg). Crowder and Johnson-Odom were the only teammates to make the All-Big Ten first team. In the Eagles’ most recent outing – an 84-71 loss to Louisville in the Big East Tournament – DJO went for 23 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Crowder had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
BYU: F Noah Hartsock, 6-8 Sr. (16.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 56.5% FG); F Brandon Davies, 6-9 Jr. (15 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 51.6% FG); G Charles Abouo, 6-5 Sr. (11.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.6 apg). As they have been all season, Hartsock and Davies were brilliant in Tuesday’s win over Iona. They combined for 41 points – on 18-of-28 shooting – 20 rebounds, four blocks and four steals in the comeback victory.
Why Each Team is Dangerous
Marquette: Marquette has a great 1-2 punch in seniors Johnson-Odom and Crowder, who combine to score 47 percent of the team’s points and grab 32 percent of the Eagles’ rebounds. Quality 1-2 connections have often led to deep runs in the NCAA Tournament. Marquette led the Big East in scoring at 75.9 points per game. The Eagles are excellent at getting to the foul line and shoot 72 percent while there. Only 10 teams nationally had more assists than Marquette. Cadougan is a very good floor leader and distributor.
BYU: After Tuesday’s win, it’s clear that the Cougars are very well coached. Iona scored 55 points in the first 15 minutes and then held the nation’s highest-scoring team to just 17 in the final 25 minutes. Much of that came after Rose’s adjustments. All season, the Cougars have shown great poise and Tuesday was no different. With Hartsock and Davies, BYU is big, strong and diverse. The Cougars have held opponents to 41.2 percent from the field and 31.1 from the 3-point line this season and they force 15.8 turnovers per game.
Why Each Team is Vulnerable
Marquette: With injuries to Chris Otule, who is done for the season, and Davante Gardner, who returned for the team’s last two games and was basically ineffective, Marquette has almost no size. That could hurt against a big, strong BYU squad. Over the season, the Eagles had one more rebound than their opponents and they were out-rebounded by Big East opponents by 18.
BYU: It was obvious early in Tuesday’s win that the Cougars have trouble with quicker, fast-paced teams. The Eagles will likely pose some matchup problems with their athleticism at several positions. BYU isn’t a great perimeter shooting team, particularly from behind the 3-point line (34.2 percent).
The Bottom Line: This will be a matter of which team is able for force its will upon the other. In what should be such a close game, my advice is always take the team (against the spread) that has already played a game.
The Pick: Marquette 77, BYU 76
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 198-150-6 (Through Tuesday, March 14)
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