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Marquette Basketball Preview Primer: vs DePaul Blue Demons

MUST. NOT. LOSE.

DePaul v Connecticut Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty ImagesI

Marquette Golden Eagles (11-5, 2-2 Big East) vs DePaul Blue Demons (8-9, 1-3 Big East)

When: Saturday, January 14, 2017, at 1pm Central
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI
Television: Fox Sports Wisconsin
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Radio: 540 ESPN Milwaukee
Live Stats: GameTracker

Marquette Stat Leaders

Points: Jajuan Johnson, 13.2 ppg
Rebounds: Luke Fischer, 6.3 rpg
Assists: Haanif Cheatham, 3.3 apg

DePaul Stat Leaders

Points: Eli Cain, 16.9 ppg
Rebounds: Tre`Darius McCallum, 7.3 rpg
Assists: Billy Garrett, 3.3 apg

Current KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #35
DePaul: #178
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 93% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 87-70.

Tempo Free Fun: Look, here’s the deal. DePaul doesn’t really do anything well. They do force opponents into turnovers pretty well, ranking #67 in the country in turnover rate according to KenPom. That’s about it. I’m not that particularly worried about that, because MU ranks in the top 70 in keeping track of the ball this season and even their conference turnover rate through four games is much improved on last year. I could keep going about how Marquette has a bunch of advantages at a bunch of different things, but why bore you? As you can tell from the projection above, Marquette should stomp the Blue Demons like grapes being turned into wine.

Except.

Except that’s kind of what we thought heading into last year’s home game against DePaul. KenPom gave Marquette a 77.1% chance of victory at game time. Marquette led 52-47 with four minutes to play. Marquette lost the game, 57-56.

At the time, it dropped MU to 2-5 in Big East play. The Golden Eagles finished 8-10, and missed the NIT. Flip the DePaul loss to a win in our old friend RPI Wizard, and they probably get in. Didn’t happen, though.

Marquette finds themselves in somewhat of a similar situation this year with the Blue Demons coming to town, except we already know that they can’t afford to take an L here. Next three games: at Butler, at Creighton, home against Villanova, all in an 8 day stretch. That looks an awful lot like Ls as far as the eye can see. The final 10 games of the Big East schedule? Much more of a positive outlook for wins there. 9-9 is in sight for sure, maybe even 10-8, and you could go as high as 12-6 if you’re particularly optimistic about a series of what KenPom views as coin flip games going in MU’s favor.

But that 9-9 record, the baseline to even think about a postseason berth, that requires a victory over the Blue Demons. They’re the worst team in the Big East in terms of KenPom, sitting more than 70 spots south of St. John’s. They’re the worst team in the Big East in terms of RPI, sitting on exactly #200 right now, 60 places worse than St. John’s.

Lose this game, and the path to the postseason requires - REQUIRES - a victory in the seven games remaining against Villanova, Butler, Creighton, and Xavier. Maybe even two, just to balance out the stink of a home loss. Is this the third must win game of the year for Marquette already? Yeah, it is. That’s life. Maybe things are different if the meltdown against Pitt doesn’t happen. Maybe things are different if MU even pretends to be competitive against Michigan. But those two games went as losses, and now Marquette has no margin for losses against bottom feeding teams like DePaul.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 7-3, with the win over Seton Hall snapping a two game losing streak.

DePaul Last 10 Games: 3-7, with Tuesday night’s win over Providence snapping a five game losing streak.

All Time Series: Marquette leads 72-46. This game will break the tie between DePaul and Notre Dame for the second most frequent Marquette opponent in program history.

Current Streak: These two teams have split the two games in each of the last two seasons, with each team winning on the road last season.

Jajuan Johnson Watch: The senior from Memphis is five steals away from tying Kerry Trotter for the 10th most steals by a senior at 47.

Luke Fischer Watch: I can’t believe I missed out on this until now. Fischer currently ranks 6th on Marquette’s career blocks chart with 118. His next swat will tie him with Michael Wilson for 5th place. He’s really going to have to pick up the pace to get to Chris Otule in 4th place at 135, though.

Markus Howard Watch: With 37 made three pointers on the season, Howard has the 9th most by a freshman in Marquette history and needs just four more to tie Dominic James for 8th. He still needs another 30 attempts on top of his current total of 65 to crack the top 10 there.

Sam Hauser Watch: With 34 made threes, Hauser has the 10th most long balls by a freshman, and yes, that includes Howard in front of him. The kid from Stevens Point is a little closer to the attempts top 10 than his Arizona counterpart with 74.

Follow Along On Twitter

@MarquetteMBB - The official Marquette account
@DePaulHoops - The official DePaul account
@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that's us!
@WeAreDePaul - Scout.com's DePaul site
@becb_sbn - SB Nation's Big East site
@Matt_Velazquez - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat reporter