Every game day morning, you'll see a tweet on the official Anonymous Eagle Twitter page: [Insert opponent here] evil. Must be destroyed.
It's a tradition of sorts, and always leads to a little bit of fun when Marquette plays a rare and/or new opponent and that team's fans catch wind of the tweet for the first time ("HOW DARE YOU!", etc.). While it's really just a thing we do on game day more than anything else, the sentiment for tonight's game against Creighton is slightly more serious than normal.
It's not because it's a home game, and it's not because Marquette carries a 1-2 record in Big East games and 9-6 overall, and it's not because Creighton is 0-4 in league play and 9-8 overall. No, it's because of Marquette's predictive record over the rest of the season.
If you're familiar with the team pages on KenPom.com, you know that the site lists each upcoming game for the particular team that you're looking at, as well as a score prediction for each game, and a percent chance that the team will win said game. With that explanation out of the way, here's Marquette's schedule from their KenPom.com page for the rest of the season:
That's one predicted win tonight, one predicted win to close the season, and 13 straight predicted losses. Yes, there's five games with a better than 40% chance of winning, and a sixth game that's still a one possession game. Even the one predicted win after tonight can't make Marquette fans very comfortable. That game comes against DePaul in the season finale, and as we all know, Marquette already lost to the Blue Demons in the league opener.
But that's a lot of rough sledding for the rest of the season. Part of the problem is that the algorithm is using Marquette's full season statistics to predict these games, so it's taking non-Luke Fischer games into account. On the flip side, according to KenPom, Marquette has the worst offensive efficiency in the Big East in conference games only, so even having the conference's third best defensive efficiency in those games isn't doing a lot to help out their chances of winning.
Now, it is worth noting that while the game by game predictions only peg MU for three Big East wins this season, that's not the case when you look at the full season. KenPom's full schedule prediction has the Golden Eagles winning six conference games by the end of the season, and some number crunching from Cracked Sidewalks on January 9th also slotted the Golden Eagles at six league wins.
I could explore a lot of things about this game in an effort to preview this game, like how Creighton is a lousy offensive rebounding team or how the Bluejays don't get to the free throw line very often, or how the Jays are in a lot of trouble because Marquette doesn't turn the ball over much and Creighton doesn't force turnovers, or how Creighton ran into some injury trouble in their last game against Seton Hall.
But none of that is all that important other than this simple fact: Marquette badly needs to destroy Creighton tonight, because wins are going to be hard to come by for the rest of the season.