Sunday, February 27, 2011

MU Takes Care of Business Against Providence

After a crucial victory on the road against UConn, the golden eagles returned home and beat up on a helpless Friars squad in a 86-62 victory.  Marquette finished the week 2-0 and has 2 games remaining before the Big East Tournament in New York.  With the win, we're 9-7 in conference play and in a 5-way tie in the BE standings.

Marquette started out on a 10-0 run in this game and never seemed to look back.  Between cold shooting from Providence and solid defense and rebounding from MU, the friars never had a chance.  While Providence would go on a 5 or 7-point run at a couple points in the game, we always had an answer with a run of our own.

Given the final score, there's mostly positives to take away from this game.  5 guys scored in double figures: Butler, Otule, Cadougan, DJO, and Crowder.  As usual, Crowder was a beast on the inside grabbing boards and causing havoc in the paint on defense.  Junior Cadougan had a career night with 10 points, 10 assists, and 6 boards.  He made some great passes to the interior that translated into easy points.

The defense was also much improved, as they only allowed 0.78 points per defensive possession today.  We did a much better job of rotating on defense which seemed to frustrate the friars throughout the game.  Part of their poor shooting percentage (32%) was due to them taking long-range contested shots that they should never be taking in the first place.  Combine that with being out-rebounded 37-15 in their end of the floor and it made for a long afternoon for Providence.

The main negative today was turnovers, as MU turned the ball over on 22% of their possessions.  Most of these were head-scratching passes that lead to fast break points on the other end for Providence.  At one point in the second half when the friars began to press, we inexplicably turned the ball over twice before crossing the timeline which gave Providence 4 easy points.  This is probably a one-off scenario given the fact that we only turn the ball over 18% of the time on offense, but nonetheless this was something you never want to see again.

On a side note, fans got a serious scare from DJO when he hit the floor hard after making a drive to the rim in transition in the second half.  He landed on his right elbow and didn't get off the floor for a few seconds.  The first thing that went through my head was "Great... Travis Diener, Jerel McNeal, Dominic James, and now DJO is next in line to get seriously injured at the end of the season."  Thankfully, he was just out for a couple minutes and came back in and played like he hadn't missed a beat.  Definitely didn't need to say that during a blowout victory on a Sunday afternoon.

Big East Standings

As of now, here's where the Big East stands from top to bottom, courtesy of the Big East's website:
StandingsConferencePct.PFPAOverallPct.PFPAHomeAwayNeutralLast 10Streak
Pittsburgh 13-3.81370.161.325-4.86274.861.216-16-23-17-3L 1
Notre Dame 12-4.75070.466.623-5.82175.165.216-04-43-19-1W 2
Louisville 11-5.68869.265.622-7.75975.064.218-24-50-07-3W 3
St. John's 11-5.68866.965.619-9.67970.165.811-35-63-08-2W 6
Syracuse 11-6.64768.765.524-6.80072.462.715-36-33-06-4W 4
Georgetown 10-7.58865.965.021-8.72472.265.610-47-44-07-3L 2
Cincinnati 9-7.56364.462.722-7.75969.058.514-37-41-06-4L 1
Connecticut 9-7.56368.767.421-7.75073.265.913-35-43-05-5W 1
Villanova 9-7.56371.268.221-8.72473.764.713-47-31-14-6L 2
West Virginia 9-7.56365.462.618-10.64369.964.110-25-63-25-5W 1
Marquette 9-7.56374.170.118-11.62177.468.614-34-60-25-5W 3
Seton Hall 5-11.31362.866.211-17.39366.265.06-74-71-33-7L 3
Rutgers 4-12.25064.169.313-15.46465.865.210-62-71-22-8L 4
Providence 3-13.18873.179.814-15.48376.774.613-50-91-13-7L 6
USF 3-13.18863.169.69-20.31062.365.67-81-111-12-8W 1
DePaul 1-15.06364.977.97-21.25068.275.26-101-80-31-9L 3

Like I said, we're in a 5-way tie (which Buzz had predicted before the season started would be the result at the end of the season) with Cincinnati, 'Nova, West Virginia, and UConn.  If the golden eagles can take care of business against Cincinnati and Seton Hall, that would put as at 11-7 and should give us a bye in the first round of the Big East Tournament.  As you can see, things have gotten pretty hairy.  To check out how tie-breakers work, you can read it here.  Basically, if we're in a tie with at least 2 other teams, those teams are turned into a "mini-conference" and the records of each team against those other teams in the tie-breaker are stacked up.  So for instance, if we're in a tie with UConn and West Virginia, we'd be 2-1 in that "mini-conference" and that record would get stacked against the records of UConn and West Virginia.  2-team tie-breaker rules would apply if UConn or West Va. also went 2-1 in the mini-conference.

Given the schedules the other teams still have ('Nova plays ND and Pitt, UConn and West Va play each other, WVU also plays ND), and if we beat Cincy that of course knocks them out of the equation, we have a good shot at passing all of these teams and getting at least a 7-seed in the tournament.  There's still a lot of basketball yet to be played, but right now we're looking a lot better than we were 10 days ago.

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