Davidson (26-7) vs. Marquette (23-8)
Thursday, March 21, 3:20 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rupp Arena (23,500) -- Lexington, Kentucky. Television: truTV. NCAA Record: Davidson 8-12, Marquette 38-31. Series Record: Series tied 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Big East's Marquette Golden Eagles will face the Southern Conference champion Davidson Wildcats in NCAA Tournament second-round action of the East Regional at Rupp Arena on Thursday.
The 14th-seed Wildcats are certainly carrying a ton of momentum into the postseason as they have won 17 straight games, the longest active win streak in the nation. The Wildcats also made an appearance a year ago in this event, but lost in the first round to Louisville which went on to the Final Four. Davidson's more famous run came in 2008 when Steph Curry lit the college basketball world on fire to lead the Wildcats to the Elite Eight.
The third-seed Golden Eagles were a bit of a surprise in the Big East this season as they ended up with a share of the regular-season title along with Georgetown and Louisville. In the conference tourney the Golden Eagles lost their only matchup with a 73-65 setback against Notre Dame which broke a three-game win streak. This is the eighth straight season the Golden Eagles have made the Big Dance with Sweet 16 runs in the last two.
In two previous meetings between these squads each team has collected a win. Whichever is able to take an edge in the all-time series with a win moves on to face either sixth-seed Butler or 11th-seed Bucknell.
In the SoCon Tournament final against the College of Charleston, Davidson did what it has done against league foes all season: dominate. The Wildcats shot a blistering 54.9 percent from the field and held the Cougars to just 29.8 percent en route to the 74-55 victory.
Jake Cohen (14.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and De'Mon Brooks (13.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg) are the players to watch for the Wildcats as they are the last two winners of the SoCon Player of the Year Award. Cohen earned the honor this season and has scored in double figures in 15 straight games. Brooks was no slouch this year either and showed just how dominant he can be as he dumped in a game-high 24 points against Charleston. Nik Cochran (9.8 ppg), Chris Czerapowicz (9.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and J.P. Kuhlman (8.1 ppg) serve well as complementary pieces for the Wildcats.
After busting out to a 17-4 lead against Notre Dame last Thursday, the Golden Eagles were unable to stay hot as they succumbed to the Irish. The Golden Eagles shot a solid 46.6 percent from the floor but that was negated by the 16 turnovers they committed.
Marquette is a team in the truest sense of the word as it gets contributions from up and down the roster. Leading scorer Vander Blue (14.3 ppg) is the primary offensive option but he has had three games with less than 10 points in the last six. When Blue is slowed, players like Junior Cadougan (8.7 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Jamil Wilson (9.4 ppg) have shown no fear in taking shots and making plays. Davante Gardner (11.5 ppg) was the Big East Sixth Man of the Year this season and is an imposing force in the paint off the bench. Marquette relies on steady shooting to keep itself in the win column as it was second in the Big East in field-goal percentage (.467) during the season.
Cohen and Brooks are tremendous players but against the athletic Golden Eagles they may have a bit more trouble than they encountered in the SoCon. Marquette will take its first step towards a third straight Sweet 16 appearance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Marquette 70, Davidson 63
03/21 10:35:39 ET