The Northern Colorado Bears will be looking for a huge upset on the road against the No. 11 Marquette Golden Eagles on Saturday in Milwaukee, in what is the first-ever meeting between the two teams. The Bears have yet to win a game on the road this season (0-3), while Marquette is 4-0 at home and still perfect on the season (9-0).
The Golden Eagles boast a high-powered offense, led by senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom, which ranks 12th in the nation in points per game (83.0), 4th overall in assists per game (19.1) and 11th overall in field goal percentage (49.9%). Johnson-Odom, who leads the team with an average of 18.8 points per game, will certainly be motivated to come out strong after being held to a season-low 10 points against Wisconsin-Green Bay. Marquette is one of only nine unbeaten teams remaining in division one basketball, and is looking for their first 10-0 since 2001-02.
Another Marquette player to watch for is senior forward Jae Crowder, who is coming off a great performance against Wisconsin-Green Bay in which he scored 21 points on 7-12 shooting and 4-6 from beyond the arc, and averages 17.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game on the season.
As for the Bears, they are coming off a tough 71-65 loss to the Denver Pioneers, and are hoping to bounce back. Nothing on paper about this game looks good for the Bears, who may have trouble keeping pace with a very talented Golden Eagles offense. The onus will be on Sophomore guard Paul Garnica, the leading scorer on the team, to step up and provide a big game. He will have to be more efficient than he was on Wednesday against Denver, where he scored 18 points on 6-15 shooting.
Here's the most salient bit of analysis for the matchup from SB Nation's Marquette athletics blog, Anonymous Eagle:
(3) They don't have the size to compete inside. Northern Colorado's defense is as inefficient as its offense is efficient: the Bears have identical 105.5 ratings for both their offense and defense, which puts them in the top third of D1 schools offensively but ranks 294th defensively. There are problems everywhere on the defensive side of the court: the Bears are getting hurt from distance (35.9% opponent three-point shooting) and they're getting hurt badly in the paint (51% opponent two-point shooting) because their standard lineup looks like this: Paul Garnica (6'0"); Tate Unruh (6'4"); Mike Proctor (6'8"); Elliott Lloyd (6'1"); and Emmanuel Addo (6'7").
Here is some general information to help you find the game on Saturday:
Game date, time: 2 p.m. MT, Saturday, Dec. 17th, 2011
Location: Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
TV channel: Sports32, ESPN3
Radio: KFKA-AM 1310
Spread: Marquette is currently favored by 24 points, and the over/under is currently set at 152.
For updates on Northern Colorado basketball, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver. For more news and notes from around college basketball, visit SB Nation's college basketball news hub. For more on Marquette, visit Anonymous Eagle.