#7 South Carolina vs #10 Marquette
9:50 pm, TBS
Player to Watch: Sindarius Thornwell: ppg 21.0 rpg 7.2 apg 2.8
Thornwell’s individual play throughout the season represents South Carolina’s play as a team: When Thornwell is on, so is the team. He is a pure scorer who can both get to the paint and shoot the three. If South Carolina wants to set up a probable matchup with Duke in the second round, Thornwell needs to be at his best.
X Factor: Defense
South Carolina time and time again has shown that they are a defense heavy team. The Gamecocks maintain one of the best defensive squads in the nation, averaging 8 steals per game, ranking in the top 25 in that category. Against a team like Marquette, defense is essential. The Golden Eagles, hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are an offensive power, averaging third in the Big East or better in points per game, free throw percentage, field goal percentage, three point field goal percentage, and assist per game. If South Carolina wants to survive and advance, they’ll have to slow down a high powered Marquette team.
Player to Watch: Markus Howard: ppg 13.2 rpg 2.3 apg 2.2
Markus Howard has excelled in his freshman campaign as a point guard and a deadly threat from three point land. Despite having only just turned 18 years of age, Howard shows great poise in the back court and is capable of controlling the game. His best contribution to the Golden Eagles comes from behind the arc, as he currently leads the nation in three point field goal percentage at a stunning 55%.
X Factor: Shooting
While Marquette has dealt with struggles on the defensive end throughout the year, they have been able to combat this with very impressive shooting. As a team, the Golden Eagles currently top the table in three point field goal shooting percentage, with a 43% success rate. The X Factor in this statistic is that there are numerous players who are more than capable of shooting the three. Depending on the lineups designed by coach Steve Wojciechowski, 4 to 5 guys on the floor are a threat from deep at all times. If Marquette can stay hot from three, they can expect to move on to the round of 32.
Match-Up to Watch
A good match-up to keep an eye on throughout the game is between South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell and Marquette’s Jajuan Johnson. Both players excel at getting to the hoop, and both players can finish when they get there. The deciding factor in this match-up is three point shooting. Thornwell and Johnson are both capable three point shooters, however, both lack consistency. Look forward to seeing these players with the ball in their hands during crunch time.
A key factor to the success of Marquette is their offensive balance. The Golden Eagles have five players who average in double digits for scoring, and 7 players who score 8 or more per game. Marquette is such a tough team to prepare for because all of their players are capable of heating up at any time. A key factor for the Gamecocks is their ability to speed up the game. While Marquette also likes to play fast, South Carolina is a huge momentum team. Their offense lives on huge scoring runs and momentum swings, thanks to the seniority and stamina of Sindarius Thornwell.
Prediction: South Carolina 79, Marquette 83
Despite South Carolina’s defensive strength, Marquette’s high scoring offense and unmatched three point shooting ability will be too much for the Gamecocks. Assuming Marquette can score with balance like they did in the regular season, they should be able to add another notch to the win column.