Marquette (4-2) vs. Milwaukee (3-3)
U.S. Cellular Arena – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Just when you think the Milwaukee Panthers have gotten on the right track, they lay an egg in a game they should have won against a MAC West team, probably the worst division in college basketball.
It doesn’t get any easier as Milwaukee takes on cross-town BIG EAST school Marquette. The Golden Eagles may have an identity crisis among their fan base as to what the name of the team should be, but the team itself has no qualms about who they are.
They’re fast, they’re strong, and despite their early season struggles, they can shoot. In a lot of ways, Marquette is built like a super mid-major. I say that in the sense that when mid-major upsets happen in the NCAA Tournament, it’s done by pressure defense (although not necessarily the press), a slew of quick guards, and deft shooting.
The shooting woes for the Golden Eagles are largely on the outside (just 28.4% from outside the arc this season), so the shift to slashing and scoring has become more pronounced for Marquette. Go down the list and you’ll find a bona fide bevy of guards to choose from, all of whom can dart through opposing defenses with varying success. In no particular order: Vander Blue, Darius Johnson-Odom, Dwight Buycks, Junior Cadougan, Reggie Smith.
My pick for MU’s MVP tonight isn’t the one most fans would go for: Dwight Buycks. While many would say that Darius Johnson-Odom would be the better player (and they would be right), I expect Buycks is more interested in this game then his fellow players. He’s the only true Milwaukeean on the Marquette roster, so while the entire team will like to continue their dominance of the city, you can bet it means more to Dwight.
As for the Panthers’ side of the ball, you can bet that Hill and backup center Mitch Carter want to have good games. But Marquette will be looking to nullify Hill’s effectiveness by putting pressure on him if he puts the ball on the floor in the post. To realize his potential, Hill has to push people around down low before he gets the ball so he’s not several feet from the basket. If he asserts himself down low and gets into scoring position before getting the rock, he can pull off his post moves without having to put the ball on the floor.
While their forwards may not be big (Davante Gardner is out for this game), they are athletic and strong. Jimmy Butler can post up and play from the outside (really, what team in America wouldn’t LOVE to have Butler on their team?). Erik Williams hasn’t seen a ton of the court, but he may tonight with Gardner out. Chris Otule will be on the floor more as well.
Any chance for victory tonight will be nullified if the Panthers can’t shoot the ball or defend shots, as was the case Tuesday night. Shooting 29% from the floor is inexcusable, and while Western Michigan took advantage, Marquette may just win by 30.
There’s a long held truth in college basketball, and that is the closer you get to the basket, the higher percentage your shooting gets. On Tuesday against Western Michigan, you couldn’t get further from the basket: 29 of Milwaukee’s 62 attempts in the WMU game came from beyond the arc, of which they only made six. It seems that when the Panthers shoot 20 or more attempts from three, they lose, and under 15, they win. Kind of like when Bruce Pearl’s teams had a 30-point scorer, they lost.
Me? I’m all about history. I was there a few years ago when Bay View and Bradley Tech (with Buycks on one side and Anthony Hill of Milwaukee on the other) duked it out on the court, and then literally duked it out on the court.
While the Panthers may be 0-37 (a number I say is either 3-40 or 0-9, whether you’re going D-I or all-time), I think the outcome of that fight years ago south of downtown gives me a little hope: Bradley Tech won. Let’s hope Anthony Hill beats Dwight Buycks again.
Just in case you need to believe, take a cue from our mid-major brethren at Utah State (courtesy of Freak Forum member PANTHERfan):