The Marquette Golden Eagles will welcome the Army Black Knights to Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon. Marquette is coming off a tough loss to #24 ranked Michigan on Thursday night. This will hopefully be a more manageable game for MU at home because Army is currently at #156 in the RPI rankings that came out yesterday. The Golden Eagles currently sit at #72 in the nation in RPI. This isn’t the best indication of how good this team is because they are all the way up to #20 in the BennettRank, which is clearly giving them a big bonus for strength of schedule. The biggest reason for this disparity is due to Marquette’s three road losses...though they have all come to teams earning votes in the AP top 25 poll.
Game #9: vs Army West Point Black Knights (6-3)
Army is coming off a loss to Delaware but had previously won five straight games. Their best win, however, is Yale who is currently #112 in the previously mentioned BennettRank. They have yet to play a team in the top 100. Solely based on the difference in strength of schedule, the Golden Eagles should beat this team handily.
Where can the Black Knights provide problems for MU? Well, they like to blow teams out. Five of their six wins have been by double-digits this season. This is largely due to playing weak opponents, but still, it means Marquette will have to play solid defense and not let the Army attack fire away easy shots. Even at 6-3 on the season, they have out-scored opponents by about nine points per game. In reality, I’m probably giving them a little too much credit because they are only averaging 41% from the field with even poorer 3-point shooting at just 31%. Unlike the last game where Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty made 10 of 11 free throws, the Golden Eagles can get away with fouling the Black Knights as a last resort since they are just 65% from the line collectively. Hopefully it won’t come to that though, and Marquette can capitalize on the many turnovers Army will likely commit since they have averaged 18 per game this year.
Let’s look at how the Army offense can “hurt” the Golden Eagles. I say that ironically because they really only have one player that carries the team. Junior Madison Hovren is averaging a double-double this season (mildly impressive) with 16 points and 11 rebounds. After that, I guess I could throw in there the Blue Bell native (no joke she’s from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, which makes me want ice cream on this frigid snowy day...if you’re not from Texas you might not get the reference) Libby Tacka who is averaging nine points per game and leads the team in minutes with 28 per game. Honestly, Marquette should have no problem defending the Black Knights. If they do, that is a big problem.
If Marquette plays their A game, they should cruise through Army with a comfortable win. At this point, MU’s offense is just better than anything the Black Knights can throw at them. Look for the Golden Eagles to get back in the win column and above .500 (yay!) with a victory over Army.