Feb 18, 2012, 2:41 PM EDT
Last Saturday, UConn lost at Syracuse by 18 points, but it wasn’t an 18 point loss. The Huskies were able to stay within striking distance for most of the game, getting as close as one possession multiple times in the second half, before a big Syracuse run closed out the contest.
UConn’s 79-64 loss to No. 12 Marquette at the XL Center in Hartford on Saturday afternoon was as dominating as it looks on paper. Marquette jumped out to a 43-29 lead in the first half, never allowing the Huskies to get closer than four points the rest of the way.
The one thing those two games had in common?
Both Marquette and Syracuse looked like teams capable of making the Final Four. We all know about the Orange. Its kind of hard to sneak up on people when you are sitting at No. 2 in the country, but Marquette is still a bit of a secret. Well, was a bit of a secret, because after this performance on in a game televised on ESPN, the Golden Eagles are going to be a trendy pick to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
And rightfully so.
There really is not a weakness on this team, which is a testament to the versatility of Buzz Williams’ roster. You see, Marquette is currently playing without the benefit of a big man. Chris Otule is out for the season with a knee injury. Davante Gardner has already been out for a couple weeks and may miss more time. As evidenced on Saturday, the Golden Eagles can hold their own on the block and on the glass against teams with more size and athleticism than them.
Jae Crowder, who may be the nation’s most complete player, matched up with Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi all afternoon, coming down with 12 rebounds and helping to hold them to a combined 17 points and seven boards. On the offensive end of the floor, Crowder showcased just how much of a matchup nightmare he truly is. He went for 29 points, going 8-14 from the floor and 4-7 from three while knocking down 9-10 from the charity stripe. He played a large role in fouling out Drummond.
But Marquette is more than just Crowder, whose back story is as intriguing as his performance this season. Darius Johnson-Odom might be the best wing in the Big East this season, capable going for 24 points on any given night — as he did against UConn — and with a reputation for hitting some big shots. Junior Cadougan is a leader and distributor at the point guard spot. Todd Mayo and Vander Blue provide some athleticism and playmaking on the perimeter, while Jamil Wilson has more than held his own playing as an undersized big man in the absence of Gardner and Otule.
Marquette is also as well-coached as any team in the country. They buy into their coach’s vision and they execute it to perfection. With the smaller lineup, Williams wants his guys to pressure in the back court and to run the floor to offense on makes and misses. Given Marquette’s personnel, its a difficult style for opponents to matchup with.
Difficult enough that Marquette is going to warrant plenty of hype over the final weeks of the season.
Aug 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
News and notes from around the world of college basketball.
Aug 29, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT
Mitch McGary discusses the circumstances that led to his early departure.
Aug 29, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT
The teams expected by many to finish in the top five will all face each other twice in 2014-15.
Aug 29, 2014, 9:36 AM EDT
Zach Johnson was a player the Eagles could have used to add some depth to their backcourt.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT
Four Pac-12 schools remain in the running for the services of the former Arizona commit.
Aug 28, 2014, 9:03 PM EDT
Drew Edwards’ relationship with Providence head coach Ed Cooley was one reason why he chose PC.
Aug 28, 2014, 8:13 PM EDT
Esa Ahmad’s list includes Ohio State and two other Big Ten programs.
Aug 28, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
Diamond Stone has cut his list to five schools, but just one has also offered friend Malik Newman.
Aug 28, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT
6-foot-10 forward/center Kavell Bigby-Williams would have given the Bobcats some additional size in the paint.
Aug 28, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT
Trayvon Reed, who was dismissed from the Maryland program following his arrest on multiple charges earlier this summer, will enroll at Auburn in December.
Aug 28, 2014, 3:43 PM EDT
There are already five players on the team Galemmo coached that have committed to high major programs.
Aug 28, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
He deserved it after the season his Eagle team had.
Aug 28, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT
There’s now a reason why Charleston couldn’t hire their most famous alum.
Aug 28, 2014, 12:02 PM EDT
He’s only been at DePaul for four years.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT
His reaction is priceless
Aug 28, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT
The Wildcats pulled a player off of a loaded AAU team’s bench.
Aug 28, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT
One of the most entertaining games in recent memory
Aug 27, 2014, 11:04 PM EDT
One of the three remaining schools for Henry Ellenson added his older brother to the program in the spring.
Aug 27, 2014, 10:36 PM EDT
Markus Howard decides to remain in the “Valley of the Sun” for college.
Aug 27, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT
NBC Sports Network will broadcast 33 Atlantic 10 games.
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