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NCAA Tournament First Round -- Kentucky vs. Marquette Open Game Thread

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This is the official Open Game Thread for Round 1 of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament -- Kentucky vs. Marquette


Here we are, folks -- a new season begins today, one which is harshly intolerant of any sort of error.  One loss, and off you go, home until next year.  This is the Big Dance, the NCAA tournament, the prize of prizes in college basketball.

Many, many pixels have been darkened about the Wildcats' road to the tourney, and this is not the time to rehash all that.  You can always visit my recent trip back in time on this blog here, or you can wait till the inevitable retrospective that will no doubt be found in this space sometime in the future, as you please.

Today's tilt is with the Marquette Golden Eagles.  For the sake of interest, here is how we have done against Marquette in the history of the NCAA's (thanks to Basketball State):

School Opponent Conference Coach Round City Result
03/29/2003 (1) Kentucky (3) Marquette Southeastern Tubby Smith Elite 8 Minneapolis, MN L, 69-83
03/20/1994 (3) Kentucky (6) Marquette Southeastern Rick Pitino Round of 32 Saint Petersburg, FL L, 63-75
03/15/1975 Kentucky Marquette Southeastern Joe Hall Round of 32 Tuscaloosa, AL W, 76-54
03/16/1972 Kentucky Marquette Southeastern Adolph Rupp Sweet 16 Dayton, OH W, 85-69
03/20/1971 Kentucky Marquette Southeastern Adolph Rupp Regional Third Place Athens, GA L, 74-91
03/13/1969 Kentucky Marquette Southeastern Adolph Rupp Sweet 16 Madison, WI L, 74-81
03/15/1968 Kentucky Marquette Southeastern Adolph Rupp Sweet 16 Lexington, KY W, 107-89
03/14/1959 Kentucky Marquette Southeastern Adolph Rupp Regional Third Place Evanston, IL W, 98-69
03/11/1955 Kentucky Marquette Southeastern Adolph Rupp Sweet 16 Evanston, IL L, 71-79
As you can see, the Wildcats are 4-5 against the Golden Eagles, and Kentucky is 0-2 against them since the days of Adolph Rupp.  It is time to change this trend.


Personnel

The  main players for both teams are as follows (many thanks to Statsheet.com ):

Kentucky Player Stats
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R. Bradley 29/27 35 15.8 42.2% 38.2% 82.6% 4.2 3.3 3.3 0 1.7 0.2
J. Crawford 29/21 33.4 17.3 46.2% 35.2% 77.9% 3.6 2.1 2.7 0 0.6 0.2
P. Patterson 25/25 35.7 16.4 57.4% 0.0% 73.1% 7.7 1.7 2.1 0 0.8 1.2
P. Stevenson 30/1 24.1 5.8 57.0% 0.0% 76.8% 5.1 0.8 1.5 0 0.9 1.5
R. Harris 26/24 22.6 4.3 50.7% 36.0% 60.0% 3.6 1.2 1.8 0 0.9 0.5
D. Jasper 19/5 28.8 4.4 44.6% 45.7% 36.0% 5.4 2.3 1.9 0 0.7 0.7
M. Porter 24/9 15.1 2 31.3% 43.3% 83.3% 1.1 1.1 1.6 0 0.9 0
M. Coury 30/29 10.9 2 43.3% 0.0% 52.9% 1.8 0.6 0.7 0 0.3 0.3

Marquette Player Stats
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D. James 33/32 30.1 13 40.6% 31.7% 65.6% 2.7 4.3 2.2 0 1.8 0.2
J. McNeal 33/33 29.9 14.3 44.9% 29.6% 69.8% 4.8 3.6 2.8 0 2.2 0.4
W. Matthews 33/33 28.5 11.2 43.7% 31.3% 77.6% 4.4 1.7 1.7 0 1 0.3
L. Hayward 33/31 25.1 13 47.5% 45.2% 78.0% 6.5 0.6 1.8 0 1.2 0.4
O. Barro 33/13 19.4 5.5 54.3% 0.0% 65.2% 5.5 0.3 1.1 0 0.6 1.2
D. Cubillan 32/0 18 5.4 38.1% 34.2% 81.0% 1.4 1.7 0.8 0 0.7 0.1
M. Acker 33/1 13.3 4.6 44.3% 42.4% 78.8% 1 1.8 1.1 0 0.8 0
D. Fitzgerald 28/4 14.4 4.1 40.0% 37.0% 72.7% 2 0.4 0.5 0 0.8 0


Key matchups and notes:
  • I expect Harris to guard Lazar Howard.  Howard is a 6'6" swingman and the second leading scorer and leading rebounder.  He is also a deadly 3-point shooter at 45%.
  • Crawford will probably draw Jerel McNeal, and he has a size advantage on him.  It is critical that Joe bring his defense.
  • Dominic James will have to be guarded by Ramel Bradley, and that is a very tall task for Ramel.  James is a 5-11, lightning-quick guard who can get to the rim and dish.  Ramel must keep James in front of him and force him to shoot the 3.
  • Ousamane Barro is the leading inside threat for the Golden Eagles, and he is somewhat more massive than Perry Stevenson.  Barro is not a big scorer, but he is a solid rebounder and shoots a high percentage when he takes one.
  • Once again, Derrick Jasper has a chance to be a matchup nightmare, as Marquette really doesn't have anyone who can guard him.


Points to note:
  1. Marquette is an even smaller team than Kentucky.
  2. Marquette is statistically better than Kentucky, even defensively
  3. Marquette has a 3-1 record at neutral sites.
  4. Kentucky shoots a higher eFG% than Marquette, 53% to 51%
  5. Kentucky shoots the 3 better than Marquette.
  6. Marquette is a better offensive rebounding team
  7. Marquette has fared significantly worse in games with a pace between 62 and 68.  Louisville thumped the Golden Eagles by 20 in a slower-paced game.

Injuries and intangibles:
  • Kentucky travels better than Marquette, so we should have a slight advantage there.

Keys to the game:

  1. Ballhandling -- Lestt than 17% turnovers and Kentucky has a big chance.
  2. eFG% -- when opponents shoot an eFG% over 50%, They lose 62% of their games where an opponent has an eFG% over 50%, and Kentucky averages 53%
  3. Pace -- Control the pace, and Kentucky can win.
  4. Keep James out of the lane --  This guy is good.  He can be devastating
  5. No Fear -- Fear is something that UK knows nothing about.  We don't need to find out here.

This is win or go home.  Liveblog to follow below.  You can also post comments if you like.

GO, BIG BLUE!