Friday, March 22, 2013
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Gwinnett Daily Post
Preview: Butler vs. Marquette
After narrowly avoiding a second-round upset bid from Davidson, No. 3 Marquette plays No. 6 Butler on Saturday in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in Lexington, Ky. Vander Blue scored seven points in the final 1:33 - including the game-winning layup with one second left - as the Golden Eagles came back from a six-point deficit with 1:10 left to beat the Wildcats 59-58. Blue also hit a game-winning shot in Marquette's regular-season finale against St. John's to clinch a share of the Big East regular-season title. The Golden Eagles have won five of their last six games, but will have their hands full facing a Bulldogs team loaded with postseason experience.
Butler staved off 11th-seeded Bucknell 68-56, regularly double-teaming Bison star center Mike Muscala. Andrew Smith helped hold Muscala to nine points on 4-of-17 shooting and controlled the paint with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. After one year away from the Big Dance, Butler is attempting to make its third Sweet 16 in four seasons - losing in back-to-back national championship games in 2010 and 2011. The Bulldogs beat Marquette 72-71 on Rotnei Clarke's 3-pointer at the buzzer on Nov. 19 at the Maui Invitational earlier this season.
TV: 7:45 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT MARQUETTE (24-8): Blue (14.4 points) has registered 16-plus points in three of his last four games, stepping up as the Golden Eagles' go-to scoring option late in the fourth quarter. He and Jamil Wilson (9.6 points) combined for three 3-pointers in the final minute against Davidson, with Wilson's second trey in the span pulling Marquette within one point with 10 seconds left. Davante Gardner adds 11.4 points on 58.4 percent shooting for the Golden Eagles, who are playing in their seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament and are looking for their third straight Sweet 16 appearance.
ABOUT BUTLER (27-8): The sharpshooter Clarke (16.7 points) scored 11 of his 17 points against Bucknell in the final 8:44, helping the Bulldogs recover from a six-point, second-half deficit. Clarke shoots 40.7 percent from deep and 88.2 percent from the foul line, scoring 20 points on Marquette earlier this season. Smith (11.1 points, 6.0 rebounds) could cause Marquette problems in the frontcourt, stretching Gardner with his speed and aggression on the boards. Roosevelt Jones (10.2 points) put up 14 points, five rebounds and four assists against Bucknell.
1. Butler has won 11 of its last 13 NCAA Tournament games - the two losses coming in the 2010 and 2011 title games.
2. The Bulldogs sealed Thursday's victory by shooting 25-for-28 from the foul line, including 18-for-20 in the last 4:43.
3. Blue scored 21 points and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc in Marquette's loss to Butler earlier this season.
PREDICTION: Butler 71, Marquette 66