Welcome one, welcome all to House Money Night here on TheUConnBlog.
The Huskies, winners of five straight, and currently lounging in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Big East Meat Grinder, hit the road once again to take on a Marquette team that, I'm told, is desperate for a marquee-tte win.
Marquette is a hell of a lot better than their record indicates. Six of the Golden Eagles' seven losses have come by five points or fewer. (The other loss was by eight at Pittsburgh.) All but one of those seven losses have come away from the Bradley Center.
According to Pomeroy, Marquette has two of the 100 most efficient offensive players in the country (UConn-killer Jimmy Butler - ugh, don't watch that video if you're prone to angry fits - and Jae Crowder). Darius Johnson-Odom is a gifted scorer, and combined with Vander Blue, Marquette has two-thirds of the best baseball name of the 1970's on their roster.
But the win's the thing, ain't it? Marquette coach Buzz Williams is slowly gaining a reputation as a coach whose teams always mess up in crucial moments. (Judging from the couple of times I've seen Marquette - notably against Washington in the NCAAs last year, at Vanderbilt, and in the Jan. 15 collapse at Louisville - they might be on to something.)
As a result, Marquette sits with a 62 RPI and a very average record. Silver lining for the Golden Eagles: they're playing tonight's game in Milwaukee, where they've picked up their two biggest wins of this season (West Virginia & Notre Dame), and where they've given UConn fits. (Except that one time.)
As for the Huskies, after Saturday's encouraging performances from freshmen Jeremy Lamb and Roscoe Smith, it's starting to feel like we may have an honest-to-God Top 10 team on our hands. UConn didn't need Kemba Walker to be a superstar in the 72-61 win over Tennessee; certainly, if Lamb, Smith and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel are going to shoot 8-12 from 3-point land, we just need Kemba to be merely pretty good.
But it certainly sets my mind at ease that the freshmen are coming along, and coming along very quickly. Even if UConn loses tonight, on the road, in a hostile environment, against a desperate team, I'll still feel pretty good about the future. And that makes tonight House Money Night.
Tip-off for the game is at 9 p.m., your TV coverage is SNY (or ESPN3.com), your radio coverage is WTIC 1080, and your open thread is right here.
Let's go Huskies.