Monday, December 22, 2008

Marquette-NC State Preview

The Golden Eagles will get out of the friendly confines of the Bradley Center and that rough Milwaukee weather as they travel to the state of North Carolina where they are a dismal three and twenty-eight all time. They will look to get a marquee win on the road tonight as they face the N.C. State Wolfpack. This could be a good road win that Marquette puts on their March Madness tournament resume as it will be tough to get a win on the road with the loaded Big East this year.

N.C. State’s lone loss of the season came from a miraculous performance by Stephen Curry and his Davidson Wildcats as he torched the Wolf pack for forty four points in a 72 67 victory as Lebron James was in attendance. But, the stars aren’t coming out for this game. This should be N.C. State’s toughest test of the season as they have played cupcake city thus far, which should go in favor of the Golden Eagles after playing Wisconsin at home and Tennessee at a neutral court so far this season.

The Wolfpack are sort of led by their own “big three” with the two bags in 6’9” center Ben McCauley averaging 15.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game and 6’9” forward Courtney Fells averaging 13 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, also they have some range from the outside in 6’6” senior guard Courtney Fells averaging 11.3 points per game and shooting 53% from the field this year. Even with the size advantage down low, Marquette has their own big three and one of them joined exclusive company at Marquette.

When senior guard Jerel McNeal grabbed his fifth and final rebound in the win over Western Carolina, he became a member of an exclusive group in Marquette’s history. The Chicago, Ill., native is the 21st player in the school’s record book to collect 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career. He currently owns 1,485 points (13th all-time) and 500 rebounds in 106 career games. Scott Merritt (2001-04) was the most recent player to accomplish the feat prior to McNeal. He capped his career with 1,049 points (34th) and 687 rebounds (13th). Senior Wesley Matthews is just nine boards short of joining the group.

But, the hottest player on Marquette’s team as of late is Lazar Hayward after he had a career night verse Western Carolina, capping a career high 27 points, 2-3 from beyond arch and a perfect 9-9 from the line to go along with five rebounds in a dominant performance. He will need to keep this play up with a tall front line of the Wolfpack if Marquette looks to pull out its first true road win of the season.

Marquette and NC State have met on just three occasions all-time, but the first meeting couldn’t have come on a bigger stage as it determined the 1974 national champion. The top-ranked Wolfpack claimed the title with a 76-64 win over MU in Greensboro Coliseum, led by the tourney’s most valuable player, David Thompson (21 points, seven rebounds). Former Marquette standout Maurice Lucas led three players in double figures with 21 points, earning a spot on the all-tournament team. MU would earn its own national title in 1977. The two programs also participated in a home-and-home series in 1990-91 and 1991-92, with each team winning on its respective home court.

The Marquette University men’s basketball team wraps up the road portion of its non-conference schedule when the squad travels to NC State for a 6 p.m. CT tip on ESPNU.

The Golden Eagles are making their first trip to Raleigh since the 1990-91 campaign in the team’s first true non-league road matchup of 2008-09. ESPNU will feature MU’s third national television broadcast of the year.

Todd Warner
MUTV Sports

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