Marquette Golden Eagles (24-9) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (18-12)
MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES
1. Stephon Marbury Is Displeased with Your Guru. Larry Brown's first piece of advice to Tom Crean: get three versatile guards to run a team. Dominic James (13.6 ppg, 4.3 assists/game), Jerel McNeal (13.5 ppg, 2.3 steals/game), and Wesley Matthews (11.2 ppg, 4.2 rebounds/game) can lead the team in scoring on a given night. All were four-star recruits in 2005, Crean's strongest recruiting class during his coaching tenure. Larry Brown's second piece of advice to Crean: never stay at a job longer than 2 years. Last year, Marquette signed Crean to an extension through 2017. Oops.
2. Jesus Had a Twin Who Knew Nothing About Sin. I implore you to analyze a Marquette game four minutes at a time. After one TV timeout, evaluate the data and make your necessary conclusions. After the second TV timeout, you realize that the first conclusions no longer make sense. Marquette is the college version of the Golden State Warriors. They want to run the court to achieve easy layups and wide-open three pointers. When this does not occur, Marquette must run a half court offense, which alternates between Daydream Nation and NYC Ghosts & Flowers.
3. It's Revolutionary to Maginot. Jay Bilas pulls out a set of facts for every Big East team on Monday night. Tom Crean's fact: He has over 1,000 offensive plays. Jay, what are you watching? I've seen some cute out of bounds plays that result in an easy lay-up for the Golden Eagles after a TV timeout, but 1,000? How many variations of on-ball screen, pass, on-ball screen, pass, on-ball screen, contested jump shot are there? — James Virtel
1. Billy G Is Not My Lover. Many fans wanted Tubby Smith out for a long, long time in the Commonwealth, so with that exodus they got Billy Gillispie. The Wildcats had a 6-7 record following a loss to now-hated Rick Pitino, and everyone thought that ol' Billy Boy might not be the guy after all. Panic ensued, then Gillispie really proved to be the grinder (crouch down low, coach, show us how much you care!) and has been named the SEC coach of the year. So, just to recap: Billy Gillispie became a much better coach in 2008, which bodes well for the 'Cats.
2. Ashley Judd Loves the Streaking. With their resurgence, Kentucky continues their impressive streak of tournaments made, making it 17 straight this year. (That accomplishment is only bested by fellow '07-08 underachieving squad Arizona, who has danced 24 straight years, and Kansas.) Even more impressive? The Wildcats have never lost in the first round during that span.
3. Kentucky Doesn't Have the Horses. The 'Cats have been crippled the entire year with injuries and have only been able to consistently play seven players at any segment of the season. They recently lost their best player, freshman standout Patrick Patterson. Patterson was an undeniable, extremely impressive force inside, but he's gone with a broken foot. This is a squad that very much relies on their perimeter shooting to a fault, so without Patterson to lasso in those rebounds, they will need to look to the crafty play of senior Brooklyn-bred point guard Ramel Bradley and the indispensable Derrick Jasper. But, as any true Wildcat fan knows, this team's barometer is the play of Joe Crawford, who value is as incalculable as any player in the nation. — College Hoops Journal