Marquette Golden Eagles (16-9, 5-7) vs Creighton Bluejays (16-9, 7-5)
Marquette Stat Leaders
Points: Henry Ellenson, 16.6 ppg
Rebounds: Henry Ellenson 10.1 rpg
Assists: Traci Carter, 4.5 apg
Creighton Stat Leaders
Points: Maurice Watson, Jr., 14.8 ppg
Rebounds: Geoffrey Groselle, 6.1 rpg
Assists: Maurice Waton, Jr., 6.5 apg
Creighton Injury Note: Freshman guard Khyri Thomas missed their game against Xavier earlier this week with an undisclosed injury. It was the first game this season that he had missed. No word yet as to whether he'll be cleared to play for tonight's game. Thomas is averaging 7 points, four rebounds, and just a bit more than one assist per game.
Current KenPom Rankings
KenPom Predictions: Creighton has a 57% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 75-73.
Tempo Free Fun: If you were figuring that this game was going to be a "who blinks first" contest when Creighton has the ball, but an ugly mess when Marquette has it, you're probably right. The Jays' offense is ranked #56 in the country according to KenPom, while MU's defense comes in at #66. I think we should probably point out that both sides are approximately six points per 100 possessions worse in league play, though, with Creighton's offense ranking 5th and Marquette's defense ranking eighth amongst Big East squads.
Even when you go line by line in the Four Factors on that end of the court, the two teams are at odds. Creighton shoots it really well, Marquette stops you from doing that. Creighton doesn't turn it over much, Marquette forces a bunch of turnovers. They're even both bad at rebounding on that end of the court. I'd say that Marquette's one significant advantage is that they don't let you get to the line while the Jays don't actually go to the line that much, but nearly 39% of CU's offense consists of three pointers. That's a top 100 ratio, so as long as everyone remembers to not foul the jump shooter, I think we'll see a significant edge in free throws for the Golden Eagles in this game.
When Marquette's on offense, well, that's going to be a problem. MU's offense ranks #168 in the country, while the Bluejays have a top 50 defense. Just barely, ranking #49, but that's still top 50. Creighton doesn't force a lot of turnovers, ranking #188 in the country there, so if miscues stack up in this game for Marquette, it'll likely be their own fault. Creighton's defensive prowess largely lies in their rebounding. They're 73rd in the country at defensive rebounding rate, allowing opponents to grab less than 28% of their own misses. Marquette is an okay shooting team, generally speaking, but they're a kind of lousy offensive rebounding team, ranking just under the national average in that department. Perhaps Marquette will be able to neutralize 7' Geoffrey Groselle (#64 in the country in offensive rebounding, #263 on defense) by using both Luke Fischer (#50 OR%) and Henry Ellenson (#408 OR%, #79 DR%), but that will require both Golden Eagles to remain on the court and out of foul trouble.
Marquette Last 10 Games: 5-5, with a win in their last game snapping a two game skid.
Creighton Last 10 Games: 6-4, with wins in the last two contests.
All Time Series: Marquette holds a 49-31 advantage.
Current Streak: The two squads split the two meetings last year, with Creighton winning in Omaha in the most recent game.
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 (106) & free throws attempted (140) records, and his 43 blocks are second best to Jim McIlvaine's 92.
His 144 field goals made are the 5th most by a MU freshman, and he needs just seven more to tie Damon Key for fourth; his 333 field goal attempts are 2nd most, trailing only Dominic James at 404. Ellenson (252) continues to close in on Bo Ellis' freshman rebounding record of 264, needing just 12 to tie the MU legend. Last, but certainly not least, Ellenson is #3 on the freshman scoring chart at 416 points. Only Doc Rivers (434) and Dominic James (473) are in front of him.
Traci Carter Watch: Carter is currently tied with Doc Rivers for the third most assists by a freshman in Marquette history. 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 7.9 helpers in Marquette's seven guaranteed remaining games, and that seems like a little steep. He's currently tied with Travis Diener for the sixth most steals by a freshman, and his next takeaway will move him into a three way tie for fourth place with Tony Miller and Tony Smith at 40.
Luke Fischer Watch: He's now in a tie with Dwyane Wade for the fifth most blocks for a Marquette junior at 43, and he's four blocks away from tying Dwyane Johnson in fourth place.
Haanif Cheatham Watch: We add a new line to the stat watch arrangement, as Cheatham has moved into 6th place amongst freshmen in free throws made and 7th place in free throws attempted. He's inching closer to the top 10 in points, field goals made, three pointers made, rebounds, assists, and steals, but he's not quite close enough to discuss those line by line yet.
Duane Wilson Watch: And another new entry. Wilson's worked himself up to the ninth most made three pointers amongst Marquette sophomores, sitting just one more than Tony Miller (46) and three fewer than Dominic James (50). His 132 three point attempts rank as the eighth most for Marquette sophomores as there's a huge gap between Darius Johnson-Odom (154) and David Cubillan (116).
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@Matt_Velazquez - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat reporter