In what should be the most physical game of the Sweet Sixteen round in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Marquette will try and get past the stage for the first time since the days of Dwyane Wade over a decade ago, while Miami are hoping that the absence of their starting center won’t be too much of a crippling issue.
Vander Blue. That’s the only name you need to know about when you think of what the Golden Eagles have done in the tournament so far. The 6’4 Junior scored 16 points in the opening game against Davidson, including the game winning layup to give them a 59-58 win. Against Butler, in the next round, it was just as hard, but Blue was even better, finishing with 29 points, leading Marquette to their third consecutive Sweet-16 with a 74-72 win.
It’s that, and the physical play the Big East teams are known for. The Golden Eagles converted 23 of 27 free throws against Butler, while Miami went to the line only 15 times against Illinois. We’re going to see a lot of fouls, and it’s about Miami making the right adjustments, mostly in their head, in getting ready for such a game.
For the Hurricanes, winning the ACC title for the first time, it’s about Shane Larkin feeling comfotable with his scoring, while Kenny Kadji or Julian Gamble, the remaining bigs for the ‘Canes, stay out of foul trouble. Larkin didn’t have to do much in the easy opening round win over Pacific, but his 17 points were they key to beating Illinois 63-59, and him finding himself free in the lane is something Marquette will have to prevent.
Prediction – Miami aren’t a bluff, and deserved the number 2 seed to enter the tournament. But are they good enough to beat an experienced team and head coach in these situations? Marquette’s physicality might be a bit much, especially without Roger Johnson.