Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Marquette And Clemson Go Down On The Road

Wisconsin-Green Bay 49, Marquette 47
Marquette has been up and down all year. They had that great road upset of Wisconsin, but also got blown away by Florida and nearly lost to Southeastern Louisiana. Their offense is sloppy, and it leads to inconsistency. When they get a bunch of turnovers and get rolling, they put up points in bunches. But they can also get bogged down in the half court  Here they scored a putrid 16 points in the second half, and finished with 0.82 PPP overall.

A lot of credit has to go to Brian Wardle for putting together a perfect gameplan. He slowed the game down to an excruciating 57 possessions (Marquette's Pomeroy adjusted efficiency was more than 69 possessions per 40 minutes). His team limited turnovers (only 9 total) and Marquette offensive rebounds (again only 9). It forced Marquette to score efficiently out of their half court offense - something which they really have never done under Buzz Williams.

Marquette is 7-3 with that win over Wisconsin and now this bad loss. They will play LSU on Saturday, and then only will have North Carolina Central before starting Big East play. Assuming that they win both games, they should be able to lock up an at-large bid if they can get to 10-8 in conference play.

Green Bay moves to 4-7 and will play South Dakota on Saturday.

Coastal Carolina 69, Clemson 46
It's one thing to lose to a mid-level mid-major like Coastal Carolina, but Clemson got destroyed here by 23 points. Clemson can blame 4-for-21 three-point shooting for the final margin, but they were flat out outplayed. Coastal Carolina out-rebounded them, had more assists, fewer turnovers and more steals (a staggering 13 total steals for the Chanticleers). Coastal Carolina star Anthony Raffa stole the show with 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting.

Brad Brownell is rebuilding this Clemson program, and his roster is pretty young, but they look like they're at least another year away from contending on the bubble. They are now 6-4 without any quality wins to offset this bad loss. They have two cupcake games left before opening ACC play on January 5th against Florida State. They will need to go at least 10-8 in ACC play to have a chance at an at-large bid. I don't think they're getting there.

Coastal Carolina has a bizarre resume so far. They are 2-1 against Pomeroy Top 100 teams, and 0-4 against Pomeroy 101+ teams. Their next game will be on Saturday at College of Charleston.

#11 Cincinnati 60, Xavier 45
This was the rematch of last year's huge, ugly brawl. The players were more well-behaved this time. Xavier had their chances to win this game, too, but kept blowing them with putrid 3-for-14 free throw shooting and 2-for-13 three-point shooting. That 21.4 FT% was the second worst by any team in the country this season in a game where they attempted ten or more free throws (the worst was a 3-for-15 free throw performance by UMKC against Seton Hall on November 9th).

With Xavier missing their chances to take control of the game, Cincinnati went on a 21-6 run to open the second half and blow things open. Sean Kilpatrick was the spark of the run, scoring 11 of Cincy's 21 points over that stretch. In all, Kilpatrick ended up with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals.

The scariest thing about how well Cincinnati has played the past few weeks is that they've been cleaning up their sloppiness. They're taking care of the ball better and protecting the defensive glass better. We know that they're a ferocious defense, particularly in the paint (they're 2nd in the nation in 2P% against), and we know that they have two very explosive scorers in Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick. If they can cut down on the mistakes then they have a legitimate chance to contend for the Big East title.

Cincinnati, now 11-0, will play Wright State on Saturday. The following Thursday they'll play New Mexico, and then they'll begin Big East play with a very important road game at Pittsburgh on New Year's Eve.

Xavier is 7-3. They have a nice win over Butler, but also bad losses to Pacific and Vanderbilt. They will play Wofford on Saturday, followed by a road game at Tennessee the following Saturday. They'll get a chance in a strong Atlantic Ten to scratch their way back onto the Tournament bubble, but they've definitely dug themselves a serious hole to escape from.

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