Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Marquette-Rutgers Preview

The Golden Eagles will hit the road today for the first time in conference play in game number three of their heavyweight Big East schedule on Wednesday night. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-6, 0-2) will try to put an end to MU’s five game winning streak, and give them their first loss in conference play. #18/15 Marquette (13-2, 2-0) will have other plans though, as they are coming off their largest conference win in twelve years, as they bludgeoned Cincinnati on Sunday 84-50.

Despite their struggles, RU is not a team to be taken lightly. The key match-up that fans will want to key in on is Marquette’s savvy senior guard Dominic James, going head-to-head with Rutgers hot shot freshman, Mike Rosario. Rosario ranks third nationally in scoring among freshman with a 17.3 average and leads the Big East in free throw percentage, making 88.5 (46-52) of his attempts from the charity stripe. He can fill it up against the best, and you do not have to look any further than his 26 point outburst at #3/3 North Carolina. At 6’3”, 180 pounds, it will be interesting to see if James can handle the match up for forty minutes. Expect MU’s defense to be based around him as he is the only Scarlet Knight in double figures for the entire season.

Outside of the high flying Rosario, the Golden Eagles will have one other top priority, and that is senior guard Anthony Farmer. Averaging just under 10 points per game, and just under 3 assists per game, Farmer does a nice job penetrating, and setting up easy baskets for RU’s big men. Hamady Ndiaye, Gregory Echenique, and J.R. Inman are the big men on the receiving end of those drives and dishes, and they have an opportunity to really hurt the Golden Eagles inside. Scarlet Knights head coach Fred Hill has mixed and matched his lineup all season, so do not be surprised if you see the 6’11” Ndiaye, 6’9” Echenique, and 6’9” Inman on the floor at the same time. All though none of these three have been dangerous scorers all season, MU has had a tendency to host the coming out party for opposing forwards (see Wayne Chism of Tennessee).

On paper this is a game the Golden Eagles should win. Outside of Rosario on the defensive end, three of Marquette Fab 4 are going to have clear mismatches that they can take advantage of. Look for Jerel McNEal to build off his most recent Big East Player of the Week award, as his 7-7 shooting from three against Cincinnati will definitely raise some eyebrows in Piscataway, NJ.

Coming off that shooting display from the entire team, you can bet Rutgers will be closing out hard and fast on MU’s shooters. This will only play into Marquette’s game plan, as they will put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. But, they must attack the basket with their head up. One thing Rutgers does extremely well is block shots. Gregory Echinque averages an impressive three blocks per game, only to be outdone by his teammate Hamady Ndiaye who is averaging four. These two are the reason Rutgers leads the conference in blocks (that’s right, more than UConn). This could be a big day for MU’s forwards as well, as they could be the recipients of many drop passes for dunks.

Tip off is set for 6:30 pm CST from the RAC on Rutgers’ campus. WMLW will be producing the game for the greater Milwaukee area, and the game can be caught on ESPN Full Court.

Brian Henry
Marquette University Radio Sports Director
MUTV Remote Coordinating Producer

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