The Marquette Golden Eagles got just what they wanted in the Elite Eight: Syracuse.
Well for starters, the Golden Eagles defeated coach Jim Boeheim and the Orange 74-71 during the regular season. And it wasn't a fluke win either.
Coach Buzz Williams' squad presents the quick ball movement and slick handling to drive inside and score efficiently. Marquette has only turned the rock over an average of 11.7 times in its last three games, which is below the season average.
And the winner is...?
In the regular-season matchup, Marquette drew a lot more fouls and locked down on the defensive end. The Orange shot a mere 33.3 percent from downtown, despite shooting better there and inside the arc than the Golden Eagles.
Additionally, Junior Cadougan recorded four steals, which equaled Syracuse's total alone.
Expect Marquette to approach with a similar style, which will be emphatically different than that of the Indiana Hoosiers. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports puts the Golden Eagles into perspective:
From a style standpoint, Marquette is absolutely nothing like the Indiana team that looked completely altered from its regular MO on Thursday night. Marquette will go ugly. It will jilt you. It will not be totally stymied by the zone. And it has the variety to keep it mucky against SU, if need be.
There's no time to wait against a zone that also courts impressive size. Plus, the mobility of the Orange will quickly trap and close lanes at a consistent rate.
Unsurprisingly, Indiana turned it over 18 times and scored a season-low 50 points.
A strong combination of patience and efficiency must come together, because Syracuse won't allow many open looks. The ferocity of Marquette, though, will cause issues for the Orange in transition, and its offensive potential has been proven. The Golden Eagles even swept Pittsburgh in the regular season.
Passing to cutters when in stride just inside the arc will get the zone moving and draw fouls.
It's not so much about patience as it is motion. The more Marquette maintains constant action, the more a variety of attacks from a dribble-drive and kick or screens to slip inside the paint will open.
Defensively, the Golden Eagles are quite sound as they allow an average of 62.8 points and will challenge shots. Reverting back to the regular-season contest, Syracuse attempted a mere seven free throws to Marquette's 35.
Barricading just inside the arc and forcing the Orange to take more from long range is to the Golden Eagles' advantage. Syracuse's size will dominate the interior if given the chance, so doubling down-low will minimize the number of the high-percentage shot opportunities.
Given that Syracuse was only eight of 24 beyond the arc in February's game, playing the percentages is a smart plan for Marquette to reach the Final Four.
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