College Basketball: WI-Milwaukee at Marquette Preview, Picks, Odds Print
Written by Anthony Rome   
Friday, 30 November 2007 10:00

Cross-Town Rivalry

As crosstown rivalries go, there are few that have been as lopsided as Wisconsin-Milwaukee vs. Marquette.

The Panthers have never beaten the 13th-ranked Golden Eagles in 34 games, but they'll try when the teams meet for the first time in nine seasons Friday night at the Bradley Center.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Marquette -18.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Marquette -18.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

The all-time series started in 1917, and since then Marquette has built the second-longest winning streak in Division I against a single opponent, behind only Syracuse's 41-game run against Colgate.

The teams haven't met since the 1998-99 season, when Marquette won 77-56, but they've agreed to play each of the next five seasons.

As usual, the task will be difficult for Wisconsin-Milwaukee (3-3). Marquette (4-1) hasn't played in nine days since losing to then-No. 13 Duke 77-73 in the finals of the Maui Invitational, but the Golden Eagles gave the 7-0 Blue Devils their toughest game of the season.

"Even though we didn't get what our goal was, it was a fantastic experience for our team," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "Both teams brought out the toughness in each other. ... We will come out of here with a much broader and greater perspective of what we are as a basketball team."

Marquette, which returned its top seven scorers from last season's 24-10 club, has outscored all other opponents by an average of 15 points, and hasn't allowed 70 points to any other team. The Golden Eagles are led by junior guards Jerel McNeal (16.0 points per game) and Dominic James (13.2 ppg), though James is shooting just 35.1 percent from the field this season, below his career 40.3 percent clip.

James was just 4-of-16 overall against Duke after shooting 4-of-6 from three-point range in the previous game, a 91-61 win over Oklahoma State.

"A lot of the missed shots were layups, shots I usually make," James said.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee has lost two straight and three of four - all at home, though its losses came to  days since losing to then-No. 13 Duke 77-73 in the finals of the Maui Invitational, but the Golden Eagles gave the 7-0 Blue Devils their toughest game of the season.teams that are a combined 13-2. On Tuesday, the Panthers lost 81-77 to unbeaten Sam Houston State despite 25 points and 10 rebounds from Paige Paulsen.

Milwaukee has struggled with slow starts, and has been outscored by an average of nearly nine points in the first halves of the last five games, twice bouncing back from double-digit deficits to win.

"If I had the answer to that maybe we wouldn't be 3-and-3," Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said.

Jeter is in his third year with the rebuilding Panthers, who finished 9-22 last season. Earlier this month, the coach dismissed 2006-07 leading scorer Avery Smith from the team for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Without Smith, senior forwards Torre Johnson (18.7 ppg, 9.7 rebounds per game) and Paulsen (16.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) lead the Panthers. This is Johnson's first season at Milwaukee after transferring from Oklahoma State, and Paulsen's second after coming over from Northern Illinois.

Before last season, Milwaukee had qualified for the NCAA tournament out of the Horizon League three out of four seasons, going 3-3 in NCAA tournament play over that span, including a trip to the regional semifinals in 2005.

Jeter and Milwaukee assistant coach Brian Bidlingmyer are both former Marquette assistants, serving together on former Golden Eagles coach Mike Deane's staff during the 1998-99 season.

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