Tomorrows game against the Gold Eagles is a crucial one for the Bearcats. It could very well be the most important game of the season for UC to date. The reasons for this are really simple. The Bearcats already have three solid road wins. At Georgetown, At UConn and At Pittsburgh. The Georgetown win will stay in the quality win column for the rest of the season. But I don't think the Bearcats can count on both the UConn and Pitt wins holding up until the first week in march. The Pitt win gets better (on paper) with every game that Trey Woodall plays. Meanwhile UConn has really dropped off as the schedule got tougher and are now in danger being shut out of the tournament. The point of all that being that UC's resume needs another "tournament win" and the Marquette game is probably the best chance left to grab a one for the Bearcats. That would obviously be a massive lift for a team that is currently residing on the bubble, more or less.
The Eagles On Offense
From where I am sitting the two guys that are the keys to the Marquette attack are Darius Johnson-Odom and Junior Cadougan. DJO everyone knows, he is one of the most prolific scorers over the past two season in the Big East. He is a match up nightmare because of his strength and quickness which enables him to work inside and finish at the rim coupled with a steady outside shot. He is a nightmare match up for UC because Sean Kilpatrick and Dion Dixon, while improved defenders, aren't yet capable of locking down a scorer with DJO's pedigree.
Cadougan is an issue, for me at least, because he is the kind of guard that Cashmere Wright has struggled with in the past. Junior is just a big, burly PG who is capable of overpowering the smaller Cash. Cadougan has an inch and 35 or 40 pounds on Cash. In the past Cash has done good against the smaller, quicker PG's. But bigger guys are a different story.
Jae Crowder is the second leading scorer and the leading rebounder for Marquette this season. But my opinion is that Crowder isn't the threat to the Bearcats defense in the way that DJO and Cadougan are. Justin Jackson is capable of guarding Crowder even out to the three point line, where Crowder can knock down shots.
The Eagles On Defense
Let me quote Buzz Williams here.
"We’ve had three different teams," said Williams. "You have to coach three different teams. You coach a team that had a full roster for seven games. Then you coach a team for the next 15 games that only has one post player. Then Saturday will be our fourth game with no post players."
No posts. I repeat no posts.
That doesn't affect the Eagles offense at all because they are not at all post orientated. But that does really affect the Marquette defense because they don't have anyone on the interior. That should be a good sign for Yancy Gates and Justin Jackson.
In general Marquette is a strong defensive team. They only allow .93 points per possession, 49.5 true shooting percentage, 46.2 effective shooting percentage. All of which are basically average or above average in the Big East. The one issue is defending the three point line. Marquette is currently 12th in the Big East allowing teams to make 34 per cent of 3's. That is where the Bearcats have to attack the Golden Eagles with the three. A solid inside out game from Yancy Gates and Sean Kilpatrick would go a long way to notching a win.