#3 Seton Hall Pirates (22-7) vs #6 Marquette Golden Eagles (14-15)
If Marquette wants to keep playing in the postseason past the Big East tournament, they have to win this game.
See that 14-15 up at the top? Yeah. The WNIT isn't taking at large teams with a sub-.500 record. Y'all can do math, so I know that you're already thinking that this means that Marquette can't lose tomorrow, either. You're absolutely right, but that's tomorrow, and we'll worry about tomorrow's game after Marquette wins today to make sure that there is a tomorrow's game.
Marquette is looking to extend a remarkably successful season, when you take everything into account. No, no one's trying to tell you that 14-15 is a good record. It's also not 9-22 like last year. Same goes for the 9-9 conference record, which was 4-14 a year ago. Clip off those first four losses of the season, when Marquette was trying to figure out how to get five core freshmen to mix in with the lone two returning players AND figuring out what to do with Chelsey Gibson going out for the year with a knee injury, and that makes Marquette 14-11 since then.
The key component for Marquette's success this season has been the explosion of Allazia Blockton, who was somehow not a unanimous choice for Freshman of the Year. She has broken both the Marquette and Big East freshman scoring records. She's the first Marquette freshman to ever score 500 points. Hell, she's the first one to ever score 400 points. She's the first Marquette freshman to make 160 field goals, as well as the first to sink 100 free throws. She is not a star in the making, Allazia Blockton is already a star in the Big East, and it is a traveshamockery that she was left off of the Big East's All-First Team. Sorry, Seton Hall, but you're going to have to take the brunt of this slight, because you're the first opposition that's been put in front of Blockton since the league announced the awards.
Marquette and Seton Hall split their season series this year. The Pirates exploded to a 15-0 lead in the first game between the two squads on their way to a 30 point win. In the game at the McGuire Center, which happened to be the game where Blockton broke the MU freshman scoring record, the Golden Eagles slowly built a 20 point lead in the second half before having to withstand a rally from the Pirates to get the 89-82 win.
Seton Hall and Marquette have split all four regular season games since Carolyn Kieger was hired to coach the Golden Eagles. Both teams have won in their own gyms, and as Marquette starts aiming themselves on an upwards trajectory, Kieger vs Tony Bozzella could turn into one of the more fun coaching rivalries in the Big East. Bozzella does own one extra win over Kieger, as this year's quarterfinal game is a rematch of last year's quarterfinals. Seton Hall won 77-51 at the Allstate Arena back in March of 2015.
Seton Hall is coming into this game on a five game winning streak. That streak got started after a three game losing streak which included the loss to MU in Milwaukee. Seton Hall ended up in a tie with Villanova for second place in the Big East this season at 12-6, but tiebreakers end up shuttling the Pirates down to the #3 seed. You could argue that the loss to Marquette is what caused that tie, but hey: they lost to Georgetown in the next game after losing to Marquette, so you'd be wrong.
Tabatha Richardson-Smith was one of five players named to the All-Big East First Team, and one of two unanimous choices. She finished just seven points short of the scoring title in the Big East this season, and was easily Seton Hall's leading scorer at 19.5 points per game. Aleesha Powell picked up Honorable Mention on the all-league teams, which is a fascinating choice. She's second on SHU in points, second in assists, and fourth in rebounding. Not in the league, just on the SHU roster. Still got named as one of the 15 best players in the conference in a vote of the conference's coaches. Tiffany Jones leads the Pirates in rebounding at 8.4 per game, while Shakena Richardson has the lead in assists at 5.6 helpers every time out.
2016 Big East Tournament Quarterfinals Schedule
12pm - #2 Villanova vs #7 Creighton
2:30pm - #3 Seton Hall vs #6 Marquette
6pm - #1 DePaul vs #9 Butler
8:30pm - #4 St. John's vs #5 Georgetown
All games are broadcast on FS2. All times Central.