Saturday Preview: #20 Marquette at #1 Syracuse

January 7th, 2012
Just two games on the schedule for Saturday match ranked teams, one of which being #1 Syracuse (16-0, 3-0) hosting #20 Marquette (12-3, 1-1) with the visitors looking to rebound from a disappointing loss at Georgetown earlier this week. The Golden Eagles led by as many as 17 points in the second half but they went away from the "paint touches" that are so valued in Buzz Williams' program, which led to the Hoya comeback. Those paint touches will be even more important at the Carrier Dome, as Syracuse does a good job with their 2-3 zone at limiting those opportunities.

Jim Boeheim's team is always well-versed in who should be allowed to shoot perimeter shots and who should be defended tightly as well, meaning that Marquette will need to be judicious in their shot selection. As a team Marquette shoots 34.7% from three, scoring 22.3% of their points from distance on the season. The most reliable shooters are also their leading scorers: Darius Johnson-Odom (17.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.7 apg) and Jae Crowder (16.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg) both start while freshman Todd Mayo (10.2 ppg) come off the bench.

The Golden Eagles can match the Syracuse depth on the perimeter, with those three along with Vander Blue, Junior Cadougan and Derrick Wilson, but the Orange have been flat-out explosive this season. Scoop Jardine (8.7 ppg, 4.3 apg) and Brandon Triche (10.3 ppg, 3.1 apg) are the starters and have played well for much of the season, but in sixth man Dion Waiters (12.6 ppg, 2.8 apg) the Orange have one of the best reserves in the country. It can even be argued that Waiters is Syracuse's best option when considering postseason awards, which is a testament to his growth as well as Syracuse's depth.

Freshman Michael Carter-Williams also sees some time at guard, and on the wing the Orange are deep as well. Senior Kris Joseph (13.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg) leads the team in scoring and when allowed to get out and fill a lane on the break is a dangerous player to contend with. But there's also sophomore C.J. Fair (8.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg), who is second on the team in minutes, and junior James Southerland (8.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg) shoots 42.6% from beyond the arc. Marquette will be smaller than Syracuse on the wing, but they can manage the difference due to their speed. The real concern comes in the paint, where the Golden Eagles are without a key contributor. 

Chris Otule is still out with a knee injury and there's been no announcement on his prospects for the remainder of the season, meaning that Davante Gardner (8.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) had to step into the starting role. Gardner came off the bench in Marquette's win over Villanova after a subpar performance in the loss to Vanderbilt, but he responded with 13 points and ten rebounds and followed that up with 11 against Georgetown. Facing the much-improved Fab Melo (7.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.1 bpg), Gardner's going to need a similar performance if Marquette is to win. Turnovers will also be a major factor with Marquette forcing nearly 18 per game and Syracuse almost 19. 

Also in the Big East, #9 Georgetown hits the road to take on West Virginia, and Bob Huggins' team could definitely use a win like this for their resume. Kevin Jones has been one of the best players in the Big East for the Mountaineers, who will need young guards Gary Browne and Jabarie Hinds to mature as the season wears on in order to be a team that can win games in the NCAA Tournament. And Seton Hall will look to build on the momentum gained in their win over Connecticut with a win at Providence, but with the Friars desperate for their first league win that's going to be a tough task for Kevin Willard's squad.  

League play tips off in the ACC and SEC this weekend, with the former looking to sort itself out after the generally accepted top three of North Carolina, Duke and Virginia. While the Tar Heels shouldn't have much of a problem with Boston College, Duke should be on upset alert at Georgia Tech while Virginia hosts a Miami team that could be a factor in the ACC as Reggie Johnson approaches full strength. In the SEC Mississippi State visits Arkansas, and the Bulldogs had better make sure that freshman B.J. Young isn't allowed to heat up. 

The Big 12's got a pair of dangerous games for ranked teams on the schedule as well, with Baylor visiting Texas Tech and Missouri taking on Kansas State in Manhattan. The Bears should beat the Red Raiders but that trip to Lubbock could be a tricky one if you're not focused. As for the Tigers, their interior depth will be tested by the Wildcats, led by Jamar Samuels, Thomas Gipson and Jordan Henriquez. If either Ricardo Ratliffe or Steve Moore get into early foul trouble, Missouri could end up in trouble as well. 

Other games of note include Georgia State, who is currently in first place in the CAA, visiting George Mason just days after winning at VCU. Ron Hunter's done a masterful job with the GSU program in his first season in charge, and Devonta White and Jihad Ali have done a good job of leading the way offensively. Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson can be a handful up front for the Colonials, and there's a strong possibility that this game isn't decided until late. Temple hosts Dayton in the Owls' Atlantic 10 opener, and after they beat Saint Louis in overtime this could be a big week for Dayton's resume if they can win at Liacouras Center as well.   


Top 25 Games
4:00 PM (20) Marquette at (1) Syracuse (ESPN3)
4:00 PM South Carolina at (2) Kentucky (ESPN3)
12:00 PM (3) Duke at Georgia Tech (ESPNU)
2:30 PM Boston College at (4) North Carolina (ESPN3)
1:45 PM (5) Baylor at Texas Tech (ESPN3)
1:30 PM (6) Missouri at (22) Kansas State (ESPN3)
3:00 PM (7) Ohio State at Iowa (BTN)
8:00 PM (8) Connecticut at Rutgers (ESPN3)
12:00 PM (9) Georgetown at West Virginia (ESPN3)
4:00 PM Notre Dame at (10) Louisville (ESPNU)
11:00 AM (14) Florida at Tennessee (ESPN2)
2:00 PM (15) Kansas at Oklahoma (ESPNU)
9:00 PM (16) Mississippi State at Arkansas (ESPN3)
8:00 PM (18) Murray State at Austin Peay (ESPNU)
2:00 PM Dartmouth at (21) Harvard
6:00 PM Miami (FL) at (23) Virginia (ESPNU)
8:00 PM (24) Creighton at Bradley (ESPN3)

NCAA Division I Games
12:00 PM Virginia Tech at Wake Forest (ESPN3)
12:00 PM Xavier at Fordham
12:00 PM Canisius at Loyola (MD)
12:00 PM Wagner at Monmouth
1:00 PM Nebraska at Illinois (BTN)
1:05 PM Missouri State at Indiana State (ESPN3)
1:30 PM Ole Miss at LSU (ESPN3)
1:30 PM Auburn at Vanderbilt (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Colgate at American
2:00 PM Mount St. Mary's at Fairleigh Dickinson
2:00 PM Albright at Cornell
2:00 PM Washington at Utah (FSN)
2:00 PM Northeastern at James Madison
2:00 PM Loyola (IL) at Cleveland State (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Western Michigan at Ball State
2:00 PM St. John's at Cincinnati (ESPN3)
2:00 PM NJIT at Longwood
2:00 PM LIU-Brooklyn at Quinnipiac
2:00 PM Charlotte at Saint Joseph's
2:00 PM Kennesaw State at USC Upstate
2:05 PM Evansville at Illinois State
2:30 PM Charleston at Furman (ESPN3)
2:30 PM UMBC at Maine
2:30 PM Western Illinois at IPFW
3:00 PM Georgia Southern at Davidson
3:00 PM Texas State at Northwestern State
3:05 PM Wichita State at Southern Illinois
3:15 PM Jacksonville at Stetson
3:30 PM Lehigh at Holy Cross
3:30 PM North Dakota at New Mexico
3:30 PM Robert Morris at Central Connecticut State
3:30 PM St. Francis (NY) at Sacred Heart
4:00 PM Washington State at Colorado (FSN)
4:00 PM Dayton at Temple
4:00 PM Florida State at Clemson (ESPN2)
4:00 PM Iowa State at Texas A&M (ESPN3)
4:00 PM Bucknell at Army
4:00 PM St. Bonaventure at Duquesne
4:00 PM Mercer at East Tennessee State
4:00 PM Florida A&M at North Carolina Central
4:00 PM Bethune-Cookman at North Carolina A&T
4:00 PM Eastern Michigan at Northern Illinois
4:00 PM Coppin State at Savannah State
4:00 PM Morgan State at South Carolina State
4:00 PM Southern Miss at Tulane
4:00 PM Delaware at William & Mary
4:00 PM VMI at Winthrop
4:00 PM St. Francis (PA) at Bryant
4:30 PM Denver at South Alabama (ESPN3)
4:30 PM Central Arkansas at Lamar
4:30 PM Liberty at UNC Asheville
4:30 PM Wofford at Western Carolina
5:00 PM Troy at Western Kentucky (FCS)
5:00 PM UCF at East Carolina
5:00 PM Jackson State at Alcorn State
5:00 PM Grambling State at Southern University
5:15 PM North Florida at Florida Gulf Coast
5:30 PM Tennessee State at Jacksonville State
5:30 PM Coastal Carolina at Charleston Southern
6:00 PM Ohio at Bowling Green (ESPN3)
6:00 PM San Francisco at BYU (BYU TV)
6:00 PM Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Alabama A&M
6:00 PM Mississippi Valley State at Alabama State
6:00 PM Howard at Hampton
6:00 PM Maryland-Eastern Shore at Norfolk State
6:00 PM IUPUI at Oakland
6:00 PM Seton Hall at Providence (ESPN3)
6:05 PM Fresno State at Idaho (ESPN3)
6:30 PM Louisiana-Lafayette at Middle Tennessee
7:00 PM Alabama at Georgia (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Akron at Miami (OH)
7:00 PM Richmond at Rhode Island
7:00 PM Appalachian State at Chattanooga
7:00 PM Oklahoma State at Texas (LHN)
7:00 PM Towson at Old Dominion
7:00 PM Hofstra at UNC Wilmington
7:00 PM Kent State at Buffalo
7:00 PM Toledo at Central Michigan
7:00 PM Southeast Missouri State at Eastern Kentucky
7:00 PM High Point at Gardner-Webb
7:00 PM Georgia State at George Mason
7:00 PM Lafayette at Navy
7:00 PM Southeastern Louisiana at Stephen F. Austin
7:00 PM SIU-Edwardsville at Tennessee-Martin
7:00 PM Prairie View A&M at Texas Southern
7:05 PM Samford at Citadel
7:05 PM Illinois-Chicago at Youngstown State
7:30 PM Louisiana-Monroe at FIU
7:30 PM Campbell at Presbyterian
8:00 PM George Washington at Saint Louis
8:00 PM South Dakota State at Oral Roberts
8:00 PM SMU at Tulsa
8:00 PM Marshall at Rice
8:00 PM Nicholls State at Texas-Arlington
8:00 PM Green Bay at Milwaukee (ESPN3)
8:00 PM McNeese State at Texas A&M-CC
8:00 PM Florida Atlantic at Arkansas-Little Rock
8:00 PM Santa Clara at Gonzaga
8:00 PM New Mexico State at Louisiana Tech
8:00 PM Pepperdine at Portland
8:05 PM South Dakota at UMKC
8:05 PM North Texas at Arkansas State
8:05 PM Northern Iowa at Drake
8:05 PM Eastern Illinois at Houston Baptist
8:30 PM Morehead State at Tennessee Tech
9:00 PM Memphis at UAB
9:00 PM Nebraska Omaha at Colorado State
9:00 PM Loyola Marymount at San Diego
9:00 PM Houston at UTEP
9:05 PM Montana at Idaho State
9:05 PM Nevada at Utah State (ESPN3)
9:05 PM Northern Arizona at Eastern Washington
9:05 PM Seattle at Utah Valley
9:30 PM North Dakota State at Southern Utah
10:00 PM Cal State Fullerton at Cal Poly
10:00 PM Stanford at Oregon State
10:00 PM UC Riverside at Pacific
10:00 PM UC Irvine at UC Davis
10:00 PM Weber State at Portland State
10:00 PM Texas-Pan American at Cal State Bakersfield
10:05 PM Northern Colorado at Sacramento State
10:05 PM Long Beach State at Cal State Northridge
10:30 PM Arizona State at UCLA
12:05 AM San Jose State at Hawaii