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Marquette Basketball Preview Primer: at Creighton

Get yourself ready for tonight's return bout with the Bluejays!

Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette Golden Eagles (17-10, 6-8) vs Creighton Bluejays (17-10, 8-6)

Time: 7pm Central
Location: CenturyLink Center in Omaha, NE
Television: CBS Sports Network
Streaming: Have fun with that.
Live Stats: GameTracker or StatMonitor

Marquette Stat Leaders

Points: Henry Ellenson, 16.5 ppg
Rebounds: Henry Ellenson 10.0 rpg
Assists: Traci Carter, 4.5 apg

Creighton Stat Leaders

Points: Maurice Watson, Jr., 15.2 ppg
Rebounds: Geoffrey Groselle, 6.0 rpg
Assists: Maurice Waton, Jr., 6.6 apg

Creighton Injury Note: Freshman guard Khyri Thomas has not returned to form after missing Creighton's game against Xavier on February 9th.  He played just nine minutes against Marquette and four against Butler, all off the bench, after being one of Creighton's starters for the first 24 games of the season.

Since Last We Met: Creighton lost to Butler, 88-75.  That's it.  Thanks to a scheduling quirk, MU is playing both of their games against the Bluejays just 11 days apart.

Current KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #100
Creighton: #43
KenPom Predictions: Creighton has an 80% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 77-68.

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 #66 in the country according to KenPom, while MU's defense comes in at #55.  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 sixth 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, although they're not as good as Creighton is at keeping hold of the ball.  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 slightly more than 39% of CU's offense consists of three point attempts.  That's a top 80 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 #172 in the country, while the Bluejays have a top 50 defense.  Just barely, ranking #45, but that's still top 50.  Creighton doesn't force a lot of turnovers, ranking #202 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 54th in the country at defensive rebounding rate, allowing opponents to grab less than 27% of their own misses.  Marquette is an okay shooting team, tending towards good, 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 (#77 in the country in offensive rebounding, #288 on defense) by using both Luke Fischer (#56 OR%) and Henry Ellenson (#455 OR%, #73 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 wins in two of the last three.  Unfortunately, the loss was to Creighton, and even worse, it was at home.

Creighton Last 10 Games: 5-5, with the loss to Butler snapping a three game winning streak.

All Time Series: Marquette holds a 49-32 advantage.

Current Streak: Creighton has won two in a row, and four of the last five.

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 (110) & free throws attempted (150) records, and his 44 blocks are second best to Jim McIlvaine's 92.  In the game against DePaul, Ellenson snapped Bo Ellis' freshman record of 264 rebounds in a season, and he currently sits at 269 on the season.

His 156 field goals made are the 4th most by a MU freshman, and he needs just 11 more to tie Bo Ellis for third; his 359 field goal attempts are 2nd most, trailing only Dominic James at 404.  Last, but certainly not least, Ellenson is #3 on the freshman scoring chart at 446 points.  He passed Doc Rivers (434) during the DePaul game and only Dominic James (473) is in front of him.

Traci Carter Watch: Carter's 121 helpers are 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).  He has the fourth most steals by a freshman with 42, and he needs eight more to tie Dominic James for third.

Luke Fischer Watch: The junior from Germantown has the fifth most blocks for a Marquette junior at 46, and his next block will tie Dwyane (Not The Rock) Johnson in fourth place.  He's just nine blocks away from moving into the top 10 in a season all time, by the way.

Haanif Cheatham Watch: Cheatham has moved up to the fourth most free throws made by a freshman and the sixth most freshman free throw attempts. I feel like this is largely being overlooked due to Henry Ellenson already breaking both of those records.  He does have a shot at breaking the freshman record for free throw percentage, as he's currently shooting 79.8% and Damon Key's record is 81.6%.  With his 20 points against DePaul, Cheatham moved into the top 10 freshman scoring chart with 317 points, which has him at exactly #10.  His next bucket will tie Brian Wardle for ninth., and five more points get him to eighth with Trevor Powell.  He continues to nudge towards the freshman top 10 in a bunch more categories, but we'll hold off on those for now...

Duane Wilson Watch: 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 137 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).

Follow Along On Twitter

@MarquetteMBB - Official Marquette account
@BluejayMBB - Official Creighton account
@AnonymousEagle - Hey! That's us!
@becb_sbn - SB Nation's Big East site
@whitebluereview - Our favorite independent Creighton blog
@Matt_Velazquez - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat reporter