Marquette Golden Eagles (15-9, 4-7) vs #20 Providence Friars (18-6, 6-5)
Marquette Stat Leaders
Points: Henry Ellenson, 16.3 ppg
Rebounds: Henry Ellenson, 9.8 rpg
Assists: Traci Carter, 4.5 apg
Providence Stat Leaders
Points: Ben Bentil, 19.7 ppg
Rebounds: Ben Bentil, 7.5 rpg
Assists: Kris Dunn, 6.7 apg
Providence Injury Note: Ben Bentil suffered an ankle injury on February 2nd against DePaul. He played just 14 minutes in that game, and then played 34 minutes off the bench for PC against Villanova on February 6th. However, he didn't practice the two days following that game, and Providence head coach Ed Cooley was expecting to give him the day off on Tuesday to rest him for today's game. Let's call Bentil "questionable" for the game.
Current KenPom Rankings
KenPom Predictions: Providence has a 53% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 71-70.
Tempo Free Fun: Earlier this season, Marquette and Providence played a game against each other where neither team scored more than 0.90 points per possession. That's largely because these two teams are twins, to a certain degree. They are both in a situation where everything about their success is dictated by their defense, as that's the more efficient side of the ball. Where this becomes a problem for Marquette is that Providence is more efficient on their sides of the ball than Marquette is on theirs. Providence is ranked #126 in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, Marquette is at #181. Providence has the #19 ranked Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, while MU is only at #64.
One thing that will (hopefully if we're lucky) work in MU's favor in this game is Providence's inability to shoot. They're #264 in the country in Effective Field Goal Percentage, largely because they rank #292 in the country at shooting threes, making just 31.4%. That's a far cry from the national average of 34.6%, definitely well below the efficiency break even point, and WAAAAAAAY better than the 65% that Xavier threw in on Saturday afternoon. Providence has only three shooters that MU needs to worry about: Kris Dunn, Kyron Cartwright, and Ryan Fazekas. Everyone else? Sag off and let them let fly, ESPECIALLY Ben Bentil. Dude is shooting .243 on triples in conference play and .286 on the season overall. The worst part about this, at least for the Friars? He's third on the team in attempts, just 1 behind Dunn. How Ed Cooley has allowed Jalen Lindsey to attempt 100 threes while shooting 26%, I'll never know.
Keep an eye on Kris Dunn's turnovers. In the junior guard's defense, he's playing his best ball of his collegiate career when it comes to ball security. In four career games against Marquette, he's coughed the ball up 17 times. 16 of those turnovers have come in games against MU teams coached by Steve Wojciechowski, including seven earlier this season, so it seems that Wojo somehow has Dunn's number.
Since We Last Met: In the first meeting between the two teams, Marquette issued Providence a 65-64 loss when Henry Ellenson blocked Kris Dunn at the buzzer. That was fun.
At the time, that was just the second loss of the season for Providence, with the only other one coming in the Wooden Legacy event against Michigan State. Since dropping that game to Marquette, Providence has arguably been bad. They're just 4-4, with three losses at home and a loss at DePaul. Sure, they balance that out by snagging an overtime win at Villanova, but those home losses are ugly as hell, particularly for a team that was ranked #8 in the country at one point. They've lost their last two games, which is that game against the Blue Demons and Villanova's trip to the Dunk back on Saturday.
Marquette Last 10 Games: 5-5, with losses in their last two games.
Providence Last 10 Games: 5-5, with losses in their last two games.
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 15-6.
Current Streak: The two teams have alternated wins in the last five meetings, with Marquette coming out ahead in the first meeting this season.
Henry Ellenson Watch: Let's start with the freshman records Ellenson has either already broken or has no chance to break: He has the free throws made (100) & free throws attempted (133) records, and his 42 blocks are second best to Jim McIlvaine's 92.
His 134 field goals made are the 7th most by a MU freshman; his 311 field goal attempts are 5th most, trailing Bo Ellis and Jerel McNeal by just one for a tie for third. Ellenson continues to close in on Bo Ellis' freshman rebounding record, needing just 28 to tie the MU legend. Last, but certainly not least, Ellenson is #3 on the freshman scoring chart at 390 points. Only Doc Rivers (434) and Dominic James (473) are in front of him.
Traci Carter Watch: Carter needs six more assists to break into third place on the freshman assists chart. This is a big deal, because he has essentially no shot at getting to second place (Dominic James, 167), much less the freshman record (Tony Miller, 221). To get to 2nd place, Carter would have to average 7.5 helpers in Marquette's eight guaranteed remaining games, and that seems like a little steep. He's currently tied with Duane Wilson for the seventh most steals by a freshman, and he's just one away from 6th and two away from a tie for fourth.
Luke Fischer Watch: He's still #6 all time amongst juniors in blocks with 42. One more will tie him with Dwyane Wade for fifth, and a crazy day of five blocks would tie Fischer with Dwayne Johnson (no, not that one) for 4th.
Follow Along On Twitter
@MarquetteMBB - Official Marquette account
@PCFriarsMBB - Official Providence account
@AnonymousEagle - Hey! That's us!
@becb_sbn - SB Nation's Big East site
@Matt_Velazquez - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat reporter