As I mentioned Sunday, I am about to head up a possibly icy I-40 to Nashville (from Memphis) to watch the SEC-Big East Invitational, which of course includes the Vols, off their rather embarrassing loss at Temple Saturday, and Baldy’s Commodores (unfortunately, I’ll be there someday, as well).
If you thought Temple was good, there’s plenty of reason to think Marquette is plenty better. The Golden Eagles, out of the Big East (although I wouldn’t call Milwaukee as being in the East), are 8-1, with a notable win over Wisconsin at home, and a loss to Dayton in Chicago in a preseason tournament.
All you basically need to know about Marquette are the three outstanding guards: Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews. James has seemingly been there forever, and turned down the NBA Draft last year to return.
Matthews is the leading scorer at just under 20 ppg, and actually second on the team in rebounds (six per game). McNeal is the second-leading scorer and is also averaging over five boards per game.
Though it might seem that Marquette has no inside game, Lazar Hayward does average a double-double at only 6'6". That said, the only players taller than 6′8” on the roster have played as many minutes as I have this year (that would be zero).
So obviously Tennessee should be able to exploit Marquette inside, right? Well, the recent play of Brian Williams and Wayne Chism should have you a little nervous if you’re a Tennessee fan. Those two have to come to play tonight and control the boards and take advantage of the lack of defenders that are bigger than they are.
Now I don’t mean to throw Big Baby and Weezy (Chism’s an asthmatic) under the bus since the recent struggles haven’t been totally their fault. The perimeter defense will be under quite a bit of pressure tonight with those Marquette guards. Don’t expect too much press tonight, or at least I don’t. I know it’s a staple of Tennessee under Bruce Pearl, but I have little reason to think Marquette will have too much trouble with it.
Another thing to point out is that after James, McNeal, Hayward, and Matthews, the next player in ppg is Maurice Acker, who has scored in double figures all of once this year. Marquette does go 9-deep, but there isn’t much scoring after the big four. I also don’t expect J.P. Prince to play either.
This should be a home game for Tennessee for all intents and purposes, and it provides a great chance to repair the damaged reputation from Saturday’s blowout loss to Temple. Hopefully I’ll have some photos and videos from tonight’s game that I can put up here.
I will not say that I’m expecting a Tennessee loss because I never, ever pick against Tennessee or think our hoops team will absolutely 100 percent lose a game (football...not so much...), but this will be a very tough test for the Vols. Nevertheless, it should be a fun game to watch and be at, so obviously I’m looking forward to that
Gate 21 Tags: Brian Williams, Bruce Pearl, College Basketball, Great Games, Marquette Eagles, SEC Basketball, Tennessee Basketball, Tennessee Volunteers, The View From the Hill, Vanderbilt Commodores, Wayne Chism