Marquette puts their 27-game home win streak on the line against #10 Ohio State on Saturday. Both teams come in at 2-0 and is there first meeting since 1994. They were scheduled to play on the boat last year, but condensation ruined that plan. This will be the first big test for Marquette this year. I took a look at the Buckeyes and here is what I saw and what Marquette needs to do to keep their win streak alive. Starting Five
G #4 Aaron Craft 6-2 Sr. 11.5 ppg
G #3 Shannon Scott 6-1 Jr. 12.0 ppg
G #32 Lenzelle Smith Jr. 6-4 Sr. 13.5 ppg
F #10 LaQuinton Ross 6-8 Jr. 12 ppg
C #23 Amir Williams 6-11 Jr. 9.0 ppg
G #12 Sam Thompson 6-7 Jr. 13.0 ppg
Ohio State primarily runs a pick and roll offense. Almost every possession a screen is set, whether it’s on ball or off ball. The pick and rolls help utilize their guards’ quickness in getting to the basket. In the first two games OSU went to the free throw line 73 times. Guard Aaron Craft has 21 of those attempts. Ohio State is also very good from beyond the arc. Craft, Scott, Smith and Ross all capable of knocking down three pointers. Off the bench Sam Thompson provides an offensive spark with his athleticism and big play ability. Thompson led all scorers in their last game against Ohio with 24 points.
Ohio State is very active with their hands around the ball. Aaron Craft at times will leave his man and follow the ball attempting to trap the ball handler. OSU will press full court and put a lot a pressure on the other teams’ guards to get across half court. Ohio State’s advantage of playing four guards is their quickness and recovery speed. They are more likely to take chances on steals because of their ability to get back quickly.
Keys to the Game
Size: Ohio State starts four guards and makes them vulnerable inside. Marquette should look to use their size advantage with Jamil Wilson, Gardner, and Otule. I expect to see Gardner and Otule on the floor together multiple times throughout the game.
Being Aware of Aaron Craft: Offensively, Marquette will need to be aware of Craft at all times. He has a knack for getting his hands on the ball wherever it is. When the ball is in the post, they will need to make sure to keep the ball up and secure from Craft’s active hands.
Guard Play: Aaron Craft will most likely be guarding whoever is playing the two guard. Meaning Derrick Wilson or John Dawson will need to have some sort of offensive presence. If Craft is able to take away the scoring from the shooting guard, Wilson or Dawson will need to be able to create shots to make it a lot harder to just shut down that position.
Fouls: Ohio State was in the bonus with 16 minute left in the first half against Ohio. Marquette will need to limit the fouls to keep them off the free throw line that early. No team can win when their opponent is in the bonus for that long. It would slow the game down tremendously. On the other end, Marquette’s size should be able to draw a lot of fouls down low. With drawing those fouls, converting on free throws will be extremely important.
This game will be very exciting to watch on Saturday as both teams have a lot of talent. Marquette has the size advantage, but the Buckeyes have the edge at guard. I think this game comes down to the final possessions. This will be a god test for both teams early in the year.