The Cats had problems against Georgia when Bradley had an off game and they lost in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Another subpar shooting and scoring game from Bradley and/or Crawford, and UK won't win.
Gillispie knows the Big East battles have prepared Marquette for the NCAA. The Eagles have nine losses - but all came to teams in the NCAA field.
"They are really good. They have been one of the better teams in the Big East all year. They have great guards," Gillispie said. "They have very capable inside players. They are very deep. They play hard, they are well coached and they are really good defensively. They are hard to prepare for because they do a lot of different things. They have a lot of players that make big plays."
Zone defense may slow down Marquette
Conventional wisdom might call for a zone to slow down Marquette's offense. McNeal averages 14.3 points per game and was 23-for-43 from the field in Big East Tournament games. However, he's only a 29 percent shooter from 3-point range this season.
Dominic James (13 points per game) has 44 3-point goals, but is just a 31 percent shooter from long range.
Guard Wesley Matthews could be a defensive stopper on Bradley or Crawford, but he was 7-for-29 from the field in Big East tourney play and is just a 31 percent shooter from 3-point range.
The Eagles do feature one unusual matchup in 6-9 Dan Fitzgerald. Thirty of his 38 field goals this season have been 3-pointers.
Since Gillispie plays only a man-to-man defense, the Cats have to stop Marquette's inside penetration and keep James and McNeal from driving and passing to open teammates for easy shots. Marquette's only reliable inside scorer has been 6-6 sophomore Lazar Hayward (13 points, 6.5 rebounds). However, he's also had 38 3-point goals.
Still, this could be a game where Stevenson could be big for UK. He had three solid games after Patterson went down before faltering against Georgia. Long, athletic players have given Marquette, which upset Notre Dame in the Big East tourney before losing to eventual champion Pitt, trouble because the Golden Eagles don't have anyone like that inside.
Or maybe Derrick Jasper can make more moves to the basket and finish like he did early against Georgia on Saturday before becoming a non-factor on offense the second half or Ramon Harris can pick up more garbage baskets as he has at times.
But UK's key to a win here could be Stevenson because the Eagles have been vulnerable to solid post play.
If Kentucky is going to win, a solid double-double from Stevenson seems a must.
Then Jasper and Ramon Harris have to make enough shots between them to at least keep the defense honest. If that happens, UK could keep pace.
So the formula seems simple. Defend the 3-point shot, get a big game inside from Stevenson and then have Jasper and/or Harris score more than normal.
If that happens, then UK can keep playing. However, for that to happen, UK is going to have to play as well as it did in its near upset of Tennessee four games ago and much, much better than it did in Saturday's loss to Georgia.