Over the course of the next two weeks, College Basketball Talk will be detailing what some of the country’s best, most intriguing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams need. It’s the spirit of the holidays. We’re in a giving mood.
What do other teams have on their Christmas Wish Lists? Click here to find out.
Gotta have it list-topper: Perimeter shooting must improve
The Golden Eagles have some solid pieces, whether it’s a Vander Blue, Trent Lockett or Jamil Wilson. But with their balance (two players averaging double figures; five averaging at least 7.7 ppg) has come the fact that Marquette has struggled from beyond the arc. On the season the Golden Eagles are shooting 31.0% from distance, a number that ranks 14th out of 15 teams in the Big East. Wilson (12-of-23) has been their most accurate weapon in this regard, but with Blue and Lockett making less than 35% of their attempts Buzz Williams will need his players to get better as they approach Big East play. Marquette scores 62.3% of their points on two-pointers according to statsheet.com, and with their shooting woes look for opponents to devise defensive game plans that focus on limiting their valuable paint touches. If Marquette can make opponents pay they’ll be better for it.
Stocking stuffer: Davante Gardner continues to perform inside
Gardner’s been very good for the Golden Eagles this season, as he’s second on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg) and grabbing a team-high 5.4 rebounds per game. Gardner, who is in much better physical condition, ranks in the top ten in the Big East in both field goal (59.6%) and free throw (81.0%) percentage and has been a highly valuable reserve for Marquette. If the senior continues on this path the Golden Eagles will have a valuable piece at their disposal when it come sto alleviating some of the scoring responsibilities for their perimeter players.
Planning on re-gifting: Todd Mayo’s academic ineligibility
With Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom moving on to the NBA, the sophomore from West Virginia was looked upon as one of the key figures for Marquette in 2012-13. That clearly didn’t happen, as Mayo was academically ineligible for the fall semester. The question now is how quickly, if at all, can Mayo get back into the swing of things and become another player for Marquette to call on. Early last season Mayo enjoyed a stretch of five straight games in double figures, including a career-best 22 points in a win over Northern Colorado, so he surely has the potential to help Marquette offensively. But did the missed time stunt his on-court growth?
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: