College Basketball Preview: Marquette at Providence Print
Written by TheSpread   
Thursday, 04 January 2007 04:04
NCAAB Headline News



Public Bettors Slightly Favoring Marquette Over Providence Tonight

Team Page: Marquette :: Providence

53% of Bets Placed on Marquette -1 | Matchup | CBB Picks
At different points throughout Marquette's non-conference season, Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews have taken the lead offensively.

Coach Tom Crean hopes his three sophomore guards can all take over during the same game as the 15th-ranked Golden Eagles begin Big East Conference play at Providence on Thursday.

Oddsmakers have made Marquette -1 point spread favorites (College Basketball Odds) for todays game, the over/under has

been set at 144 total points (View College Basketball Sports Books).

James is averaging 17.0 points per game, with McNeal chipping in 14.5 and Matthews adding 11.5, and high expectations were placed on the trio as Marquette (13-2) prepared for its second season in the Big East. While the Golden Eagles have won four straight heading into this contest, those home wins over lesser non-conference opponents have not been especially dominating.

James, primarily a point guard, appears to have found his form during Marquette's winning streak, averaging 16.5 points and 6.0 assists in that span. He scored 22 points in a 69-51 win over Savannah State on Saturday.

"We have learned a lot from each other, from young guys and how they can help us," said James, who also had six assists. "The older guys are finding out how we can create for each other."

McNeal, though, was held to a season-low six points and was benched at the start of the second half. He finished 1-for-9 from the field with six turnovers as his personal 10-game streak of reaching double figures ended.

While McNeal struggled, Matthews flourished, scoring a career-high 22 points and matching a season high with nine rebounds. The 6-foot-5 swingman is second on the team in rebounding at 5.5 per game and is shooting 46.2 percent, the best of the trio.

"We have grown a lot, with the win against Duke and loss to North Dakota State and Wisconsin, we are starting to understand what it is going to take," said Matthews. "It is a dogfight from here on out, night in and night out. Providence is looking good but we will be ready. We are maturing and going in the direction we want to go."

Defensively, the Golden Eagles are limiting opponents to 59.3 points per game, forcing 20.5 turnovers per contest and limiting opponents to 40.3 percent shooting.

Providence (10-3) is uncertain if starting point guard Sharaud Curry will be available for this game. The sophomore, who averages team highs of 17.3 points and 5.6 assists, has missed the last two games due to suspension for violating team rules, and Friars coach Tim Welsh has yet to say when Curry would play again.

The Friars have split two games without him. After being blown out by Florida State 92-62 on Dec. 29, Providence bounced back with a 107-69 rout of Longwood on Tuesday.

Jonathan Kale scored a career-high 18 points, freshman Jamal Barney added a season-high 13 and center Herbert Hill contributed 17 and 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season as the Friars had a season high in points and shot 57.8 percent (37-for-64) from the field.

Even without Curry, the Friars have multiple offensive options in Hill (15.5 ppg), Weyinmi Efejuku (15.2 ppg) and Geoff McDermott, who is averaging a double-double with 11.1 points and 10.3 rebounds as well as 5.4 assists. Providence is averaging 80.5 points and shooting 50.5 percent from the field.

This is the third ranked opponent for the Friars, who defeated then-No. 23 Boston College on Nov. 22 and lost at then-No. 7 Florida on Dec. 6. Providence, though, is 1-17 against Top 25 teams since the start of the 2004-05 season.

Marquette posted an 88-78 win in the only meeting between the teams last season as Matthews had 18 points and James added nine assists. McDermott had 14 points and 16 rebounds for the Friars, who also will play the Golden Eagles at Milwaukee on Feb. 3.

by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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