Busting Brackets

NCAA Tournament 2024: 3 keys for Marquette’s 2nd-round game vs. Colorado

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - First Round - Indianapolis
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - First Round - Indianapolis / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

Marquette looks to make it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. But first, they have to get past 10-seed Colorado.

Thinking one game at a time is a recurring theme in any sport when the end of the season comes near. During March Madness, we hear it from players and coaches even after crazy upsets and devastating losses and before anticipated matchups. That same message could be heard from both Marquette and Colorado at the press conference on Saturday afternoon. Both teams have their share of adversity and obstacles they must overcome to advance, and both are doing a phenomenal job of handling it. Whatever the outcome may be, it is sure to be a game to see.

Key 1: Space the Paint

The Golden Eagles are no stranger to going up against a team with a bigger lineup. However, they face a unique challenge in the next matchup with Colorado’s 6’11”, 265-pound center, Eddie Lampkin Jr. In order to maintain control of tempo, they need to minimize Lampkin’s effectiveness in the paint and offensive rebounds by the Buffaloes.

When we asked Kam Jones if they had a new game plan to deal with Lampkin, he said, “I wouldn’t say it differs from what we do, but we have to do it at a very high intensity." He continued on to say they normally fly around on defense and make sure to try to put pressure on the other team and force them into positions that aren’t as comfortable. Kam also pointed out the emphasis they needed to place on this upcoming game with how their focus on defense applies to someone like Lampkin, where you need to apply more pressure on the perimeter and the post. 

Key 2: 40 Minutes of High Energy

Marquette has always been a team that has focused on high energy and defense. Coach Smart instilled a focus on deflections and stops, as well as an emphasis on "EGBs,” or energy-generating behaviors. This was seen in their round-one victory against Western Kentucky. Seeming sluggish in the first half, Stevie Mitchell and David Joplin were fired up after coming out of the locker room at halftime and rallying their team to a comeback. A major key to ensuring victory is making sure both halves are at the energy level they expect.

As Shaka put it in the press conference, “Second half, we were much better off. How that relates to tomorrow: we don’t want to wait until halftime to be the best us.” A high-energy start may be what kicks this game off exactly how they want, considering Colorado has been needing to use too much of theirs recently. As if the down-to-the-wire (102-100) win against the Florida Gators wasn’t enough, this will be their third game in just five days. 

Key 3: Don’t Let Any Buffalo Get Hot

Colorado has a star-studded roster. With two, possibly three, players likely to wind up in the NBA, if they know how to do one thing, it’s score. K.J. Simpson, Tristan da Silva, and Cody Williams all average 12 or more points. As they contribute on both sides of the court, their shooting percentage is also impressive. Cody’s choice of shot selection is shown in his stats (55.4%). At 44.1% from beyond the arc, KJ can swing the game in little to no time. Finally, Tristan is a dual-range threat forward, boasting an impressive 83.5% from the free throw line. If Marquette can keep these hopeful NBA stars, they’ll be able to control the tempo of the game.

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Marquette’s margin of error for this game is minimal, but if they continue with the same focus and energy they have been exhibiting lately, they should have no problem locking down and pulling away with the win.