Things we know: Marquette will open the Big East tournament in two weeks as part of the opening night doubleheader. Things we don't know: Who MU's opponent will be in that game.
The Golden Eagles are part of a three team pack at the bottom of the Big East standings with 12 losses. Because MU has one more win than the other two teams, they've got the advantage in the standings right now. That has Carolyn Kieger's squad lined up as the 8 seed facing #9 Georgetown the way things are right now. These things are still fluid, of course, with two weeks left in the regular season, so Marquette has a chance this weekend to decide how things eventually land. Tonight's game is against last place Providence, while Sunday's game comes against 6th place Creighton. MU can't singlehandedly drag the Jays down to that opening night set of games, but they could at least make it interesting by picking up a win.
Marquette has gone 1-1 in each of the first three weekends in the back end of the Big East schedule. They've lost on Friday night and then won on Sunday afternoon. I'd say that the odds of doing that a fourth time in a row are low, but they really weren't supposed to beat first place Seton Hall last Sunday, either. It would be great if the Golden Eagles could push their second half record to 5-3 with two wins just to cash in on their momentum from the big win against the Pirates.
Big East Game #16: at Providence (5-20, 2-12 Big East)
Providence came away from their trip to Milwaukee earlier this season with a 66-58 win. The Golden Eagles had an eight point lead at halftime, and courtesy of some hot shooting to open the second half from Arlesia Morse, that lead boosted all the way up to 12 points at 39-27. From there, Providence went on a 15-2 run to take the lead, and Marquette wasn't able to bounce back from that run, only able to bounce the lead back and forth with the Friars until PC was able to salt the game away from the free throw line.
That win was the last time Providence came up on the plus side of a game. The Friars have lost six straight since January 23 as they've taken a tumble to the bottom of the Big East standings. Of course, it wasn't hard to tumble that far, as the win over Marquette is their only win in their last 14 games. Part of the reason for their struggles this season is that Tori Rule and Sarah Beal, two of their top three scorers, have been injured since right around the start of the league schedule.
Even with Rule and Beal sidelined, no one other than Alexis Harris has managed to average more than 10 points per game. They do a pretty good job rebounding the ball, with both Harris and Chanise Jenkins grabbing more than six rebounds per game. Beal has only played 14 games this season, but she's still the team leader in total number of assists. Evi Iiskola has 54 assists and is starting to close in on Beal's 66. That's still only slightly more than two assists per game, so we probably shouldn't be expecting a lot of fancy passing in this game.
Big East Game #17: at Creighton (15-10, 8-6 Big East)
I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but when a team loses all nine games in its first pass through the conference, I'm forced to constantly say things like "Marquette lost their first game this season," over and over. Creighton took a 93-75 victory out of the McGuire Center back on January 25. The Golden Eagles had a one point lead at halftime after a back and forth opening 20 minutes, but by the first media timeout of the second frame, Creighton was up 10. By the 10 minute mark, Alexis Akin-Otiko had scored eight of her game high 28 points right in a row without an answer from MU, and all of a sudden, CU was up 21 and things were essentially over.
That win was the first of six straight for Creighton as they bounced back from a rough start of the Big East schedule. Even with that reversal of fortune as of late, the Jays only find themselves in a tie for fifth place in the league. They'll play host to league leader DePaul tonight before opening their doors to Marquette on Sunday afternoon, so Creighton will either be riding high after a big win or looking for a way to get back to their winning ways. Also, it's worth mentioning that this will be Senior Day for the Jays, and we know how Marquette responded to their own Senior Day last Sunday afternoon.
As you might expect, Marissa Janning, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, is the do it all wonder for Creighton. She's tops on the team in points, minutes, assists, steals, and three-point attempts, and she's just one one-thousandth of a point behind Sydney Lamberty for right to call herself the best long distance shooter on the team. Brianna Rollerson (6.5 rpg) and Akin-Otiko (6.3 rpg) combine to make a pretty strong rebounding duo for Creighton, and Janning adds five more on top of that, too.