CBE Classic Preview: Marquette The Underdog

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The CBE Classic is the best of the 2010 pre-season college basketball tournaments and not just because my alma mater is involved.  You have two of the top three ranked teams in the country in Duke and Kansas State, the always dangerous Gonzaga, and a feisty Marquette team.  Here is a preview and my predictions for what will go down in Kansas City.  Check out David’s in-depth Maui Invitational Preview.

By: David Kay

SEMIFINALS:
Duke vs. Marquette, 6:30 pm, ESPN2

What to Watch:
Both teams love to push the tempo at every possible opportunity.  The Blue Devils have a ton of speed in their backcourt with Kyrie Irving and Nolan Smith but also boast deadly shooters like Kyle Singler, Seth Curry, and Andre Dawkins.  Ball pressure and transition defense will be key for the Golden Eagles to try and limit Duke’s fast break offense but they must also do a better job of defending the three which has not necessarily been a strength through four games..

Vander Blue MarquetteMU also likes to run and has the players to push the tempo with Dwight Buycks, Darius Johnson-Odom, Jimmy Butler, and Vander Blue all able to take it the length of the court and finish at the rim.  The Golden Eagles have not shot the ball well from three hitting just 13 of their 42 triple tries, and are shooting a below average 65% from the charity stripe.  That means their fast break offense is even more important than the Blue Devils’.

I personally think the Plumlees are a tad overrated and should not be a huge match-up concern for MU.  The brothers and Ryan Kelly can stretch the floor with their perimeter shooting for the Golden Eagle bigs must be aware of that.

An interesting connection between the two schools is the relationship freshmen Irving and Blue former while playing together this summer on the U.S. U-18 team that won gold at the World Championships.  I do not think they will match-up against one another though since MU will need Blue’s size on either Smith or Singler.

I think Marquette can hang with Duke but unless they are shooting lights out from three and really clamping down on the Blue Devil shooters, MU ends up falling short.

Prediction: Duke 88, Marquette 74

steven gray

Kansas State vs. Gonzaga, 9:00 pm, ESPN2

What to Watch:
K-State is coming off a narrow win against Presbyterian in which they were once again without power forward Curtis Kelly who has been benched thus far this season due to disciplinary reasons.  There is no word on whether or not he will be back in the line-up but you would have imagine Frank Martin realizes he needs Kelly and hope that he has learned his lesson.

The Zags could be without forward Elias Harris who suffered an Achilles injury Tuesday night in Gonzaga’s loss to San Diego State.  Like Kelly, there is no word on his status for the CBE but his loss would huge against a hard-nosed, aggressive Wildcat team.

They key for Kansas State will be getting Jacob Pullen back on track.  He struggled with foul trouble Tuesday against Virginia Tech and did not shoot the ball well against Presbyterian.  He is key to their success this tournament especially if Kelly is once again not suited up.

Steven Gray has stepped up in a big way for Gonzaga, assuming the leadership role from the graduated Matt Bouldin.  Gray is averaging 25.7 points, 7.3 assists, and 6 rebounds per game while shooting an impressive 59% from the field.  He will need to carry the Bulldogs with or without Harris.

Prediction: Kansas State 81, Gonzaga 70

THIRD PLACE GAME (Tuesday):
Marquette vs. Gonzaga, 6:45 pm, ESPNU

What to Watch:
Harris’ status will play a major factor in the outcome of this game.  Assuming he is unable to play, that gives Marquette a major advantage since he is a physical small forward that would cause concerns for MU’s smaller line-up.

The Zags do have size up-front with seven-footer Robert Sacre and 6-11 Kelly Olynyk but neither are overly-physical in the post.  6-9 freshman Sam Dower has played well off the bench and Marquette could be without Davonte Gardner and Joe Fulce which limits their size off the bench.

In the end, slow down Steven Gray and the Golden Eagles should leave Kansas City with a win.  Mark Few is looking for answers in the Bulldogs’ backcourt outside of Gray and I think the Golden Eagles guard play makes the difference.

Prediction: Marquette 71, Gonzaga 69

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Tuesday):
Duke vs. Kansas State, 9:00 pm, ESPN2

kyle singler dukeWhat to Watch:
#1 versus #3, two pre-season All-Americans in Singler and Pullen; what is not to like about this match-up?

K-State is a very active team on the defensive end and should be able to pressure the Duke guards and agitate them with their physical play.  With that being said, Duke is just loaded this season and does not receive enough praise for their effectiveness on defense.  I really do not think any team can knock off the Blue Devils at this point of the season and barring Pullen going off or Singler getting into foul trouble, Duke will simply be too much for the ‘Cats to handle.

Prediction: Duke 72, Kansas State 62

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and The Washington Times Communities.  You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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Comments

  1. My predictions: GONZAGA over K-State 76-73 cause KSU beat Presbyterian ( who the hell is Presbyterian? ) by 9 a couple days ago, Duke beats Marquette 79-64. K-State beats Marquette 73-64 and Duke beats GONZAGA 79-76. Haha! Same score for each team on both games was a good idea. Haha!

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