Marquette and Davidson will be the second NCAA tournament game to tip off in Lexington, Ky. on Thursday. The No. 3 Golden Eagles and No. 14 Wildcats will play for the right to face the winner of the preceding game, No. 11 Bucknell and No. 6 Butler.
This game may be closer than the seeds indicate. Marquette was an impressive 14-4 in Big East play, but was also demolished by Florida and Louisville. The Golden Eagles picked up many of those league wins against the bottom of the conference (Seton Hall twice, South Florida twice, DePaul, Rutgers, and St. John's). Marquette is certainly still good, but this game shouldn't be the blowout that the seeds make it out to be.
Davidson doesn't have any quality wins, but it did take New Mexico to the wire and had little trouble with Vanderbilt on the road. The Wildcats will test Marquette's defense as one of the best shooting teams in the nation. Davidson leads the country in free-throw percentage and is 28th in effective field goal percentage.
Three-pointers can create havoc in tournament games, and the Wildcats shoot plenty of them. Nearly 39 percent of their field goal attempts are from beyond the arc. They have four guys who hit better than 37 percent from three while taking more than 93 attempts. Marquette's perimeter defense will be tested.
Luckily for the Golden Eagles, Davidson has nobody that comes close to matching up with 6'8, 290-pound DaVante Gardner. The senior has been a beast in the middle, hitting on 59 percent of his twos and drawing seven fouls per forty minutes. If Marquette wants to impose its will as the better team, Gardner is a good place to start.
Game time, TV schedule: 3:10 p.m. ET, truTV
Location: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.