Ohio State-Marquette a year in the making

November, 14, 2013
11/14/13
10:30
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Ohio State and Marquette were supposed to play on a ship off the coast of South Carolina last season.

Condensation on the court canceled that game.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta said there was no correlation in wanting to play the Golden Eagles again. That's hard to believe, but he said the series was on the docket, regardless of the inability to complete the game last season.

Still, the potential of last season's game still remains just as vibrant Saturday when they finally meet -- this time indoors in Milwaukee.

The Buckeyes and Golden Eagles are both legitimate contenders in the Big Ten and Big East, respectively. But they've also changed a bit. Marquette doesn't have Vander Blue, the late-game scorer from a season ago, or its point guard, Junior Cadougan. DeShaun Thomas is gone for the Buckeyes.

Marquette could have the advantage inside with Davante Gardner, but the Buckeyes have the edge at the point with Aaron Craft. The game-within-the-game matchup, though, that will be the most intriguing to follow is how the game is officiated. Matta said Craft won't and hasn't had an issue with using his feet to defend instead of his hands. Marquette has traditionally been a physically strong defensive team. This will be an intriguing test for both teams. How does Marquette defend Craft and Shannon Scott? How well will the Buckeyes move their feet inside to deal with the size and strength of Gardner? The onus will be on Sam Thompson and Amir Williams.

Gardner has been a load inside, averaging 17 points in Marquette's first two games. Marquette put up 114 points against Grambling. The Golden Eagles have a rugged slate of games, playing at Arizona State, at Wisconsin and against New Mexico in Las Vegas. This Ohio State game is the lone home game on this slate, putting even more pressure on Marquette to get a quality nonconference win.

Ohio State, which has had balanced scoring so far, plays only one more nonconference game away from home -- against Notre Dame in the Gotham Classic in New York. The Buckeyes will have plenty of chances for quality power-rating points, but a win here would be a major boost for the team's confidence in ultimately what it can accomplish in the heart of the Big Ten schedule.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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