Breakdown: Miami Hurricanes vs. Marquette Golden Eagles

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Path to Verizon Center

No. 2 Miami Hurricanes

Defeated No. 15 Pacific 78-49

Defeated No. 7 Illinois 63-59

No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles

Defeated No. 14 Davidson 59-58

Defeated No. 6 Butler 74-72

Starting lineups

No. 2 Miami Hurricanes

G - Shane Larkin 5-11, So.

G - Durand Scott 6-5, Sr.

G - Trey McKinney Jones 6-5, Sr.

F - Kenny Kadji 6-11, Sr.

C - Julian Gamble 6-10, Sr.

Key reserves

G - Rion Brown 6-6, Jr.

C - Tonye Jekiri 7-0, Fr.

No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles

G - Junior Cadougan 6-1, Sr.

G - Vander Blue 6-4, Jr.

G - Trent Lockett 6-5, Sr.

F - Juan Anderson 6-6, So.

F - Chris Otule 6-11, Sr.

Key reserves

F - Davante Gardner 6-8, Jr.

F - Jamil Wilson 6-7, Jr.

How Miami can win » Marquette has survived in the tournament despite shooting 38.4 percent overall and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. With a lack of offensive firepower in the frontcourt, teams can aggressively defend the perimeter. With quickness and length, Miami is equipped for the task. The Hurricanes hold foes to 39.6 percent shooting.

How Marquette can win » Draw fouls on Kenny Kadji and Julian Gamble. With 6-foot-10 Reggie Johnson out with an injury, Miami is thin in the frontcourt and would have few options if either is forced out of the game. In December, when Johnson was sidelined, Miami lost in overtime to Indiana State after Gamble fouled out.

Player to watch » Coming off the thin Miami bench, Rion Brown runs hot and cold. In games in which the junior guard has missed seven or more shots, the Hurricanes are 1-3. In games in which he scores at least eight points, they are 11-0. Brown has been stellar in the postseason, hitting 11 of 20 tries from beyond the arc.

X-factor » The crowd. Will Verizon Center turn into a love fest for Miami coach Jim Larranaga? His team is neither local nor the underdog it was in 2006 when he led George Mason to a region title here. But the accessible Larranaga is still a beloved figure in the Washington area. Will fans turn this into a road game for Marquette?

Examiner predicts

Miami sophomore Shane Larkin is the best player on either team and has been brilliant in the postseason, averaging 19.6 points and 5.8 assists per game and being named MVP at the ACC tournament. Point guard is the most important position in NCAA tournament games. Expect Larkin to be the difference. Miami 59-56.

- Kevin Dunleavy

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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