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Marquette Basketball Preview Primer: vs Xavier Musketeers

The Golden Eagles can not lose this game. Can’t. Lose. This. Game.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Xavier vs DePaul David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette Golden Eagles (15-10, 6-7 Big East) vs Xavier Musketeers (18-8, 8-5 Big East)

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017, at 7pm Central
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI
Television: CBS Sports Network
Streaming: Only if you have cable thru Cox, Optimum, Frontier, or WOW!, whatever that is.
Radio: 540 ESPN Milwaukee
Live Stats: GameTracker

National Marquette Day Note: Marquette would like you to dress appropriately for National Marquette Day on Saturday. Please consult the handy chart located here to make sure you know which color shirt your section is supposed to be wearing. It’s up to you to make sure you do this correctly.

Marquette Stat Leaders

Points: Luke Fischer & Markus Howard, 12.0 ppg
Rebounds: Luke Fischer, 6.3 rpg
Assists: Haanif Cheatham, 2.7 apg

Xavier Stat Leaders

Points: Trevon Bluiett, 17.9 ppg
Rebounds: RaShid Gaston, 6.7 rpg
Assists: J.P. Macura & Quentin Goodin, 2.7 apg

Xavier Injury Notes: Trevon Bluiett sprained his ankle during XU’s February 11th game against Villanova. He was unable to play in the second half of that 74-57 loss to the Wildcats, and then missed all of Xavier’s 75-63 loss to Providence on Wednesday night. He’s listed as day to day, but if he couldn’t play on Wednesday, it stands to reason that he won’t be 100% if he does play on Saturday night. Without Bluiett, J.P. Macura is the active scoring leader for XU at 14.4 per game. In addition, technically Macura and Goodin are not actually leading Xavier in assists. That honor would belong to Edmond Sumner at five per game, but the Michigan native tore his ACL on January 29th against St. John’s and is done for the year. Sumner’s 15 points per game is the second best total on the team, so if both he and Bluiett are out on Saturday, Xavier’s going to be very discombobulated.

Current KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #41
Xavier: #30
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 57% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 81-79.

Tempo Free Fun: Yet once again, I am left with an inability to properly talk about what Marquette is facing in this game.

We saw it when Marquette faced Creighton in their first game after they knew that Maurice Watson was lost for the season to an ACL injury. We’re not in that same situation here, as it’s been five full games since Xavier lost point guard Edmond Sumner to the exact same ACL tear.

However, two games ago, Trevon Bluiett went out at halftime against Villanova with a sprained ankle. They were down 12 at the half and ended up taking a 16 point loss to the Wildcats. No big deal, maybe, it’s just playing the reigning national champions who are focused on getting a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament again.... except with Bluiett unable to go against Providence on Wednesday night, Xavier led by 10 with 4:35 left in the first half, only two at halftime, and then lost by 12.

We’ve got 21 games of data with Sumner running the show, three games of data from after his injury, and 60 minutes of basketball since Bluiett wasn’t able to play any more. He picked up the injury at some point in the first half of the Nova game, so I’m just ignoring that 20 minutes of action all together.

Here’s what we know with this limited amount of information:

  • If Bluiett can play, Xavier’s shooting and shooting defense probably won’t suffer all that much from their season averages. Their effective field goal percentage numbers are comparable with their year long numbers. If he can’t play, though, Xavier is not trending towards a good place. Xavier’s eFG% for the season is 51%.... but only 45% over the last game and a half. The defensive eFG% is also suffering without Bluiett, going from 51% for the season to 56% in the last 60 minutes.
  • If Bluiett can play, their ball control should probably be okay. Both offensive and defensive turnover rates are lower in the three games without Sumner. Those TO% numbers are all over the place with Bluiett injured, though: Xavier has turned it over on 23% of possessions and only forced a turnover on 13% of their defensive possessions. I would like to think that Marquette can take advantage of this scenario if Bluiett has to sit out once again.
  • Xavier’s offensive rebounding has been a strength of theirs all season long, ranking #19 in the country. Not much changed in the three games without Sumner, and in the game and a half without Bluiett, the Musketeers have hauled in 52% of their missed shots. Either way, Marquette is extremely vulnerable to a good offensive rebounding team, and it definitely looks like that will be a problem here.
  • Their defensive rebounding has been ever so slightly worse over the past five games. However, Xavier’s been one of the 15 best defensive rebounding rate teams in the country, so when they go from 24% to 27%, it’s not exactly a weakness.
  • Xavier is not getting to the line as much as in the past. They have been posting a free throw rate of 42%, which is top 30 in the country, but that’s down to just 31% since Sumner got hurt. XU is balancing that out by keeping their opponents off the line even more than in the past: 34% FTR on the season as a whole, but just 23% without Sumner and waaaaaay down to 19% in the last game and a half.

Admittedly, it’s a lot of Small Sample Size Theater. It is what it is. What we have here is a team that’s struggling to figure things out on offense and defense without their two best backcourt players and is making up for it with rebounding and not fouling. If Marquette can shake off their own shooting struggles and can at least keep RaShid Gaston and Kaisers Gates at bay on the glass, they should — SHOULD — be able to come away with a win on National Marquette Day.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 5-5, with losses in four of the last five games.

Xavier Last 10 Games: 5-5, with losses in their last two games.

All Time Series: Marquette leads, 47-22.

Current Streak: Xavier has won the last six meetings.

Jajuan Johnson Watch: The senior from Memphis has passed Kerry Trotter for the 10th most steals by a senior with 48. Tony Miller is ninth with 52 swipes.

Luke Fischer Watch: Fischer got two more blocks against Georgetown and currently ranks 5th on Marquette’s career blocks chart with 142. Chris Otule in 4th place is next up at 145. Fischer’s 42 swats on the season has him ranked #4 all time in blocks for seniors. However, there’s a big gap until third place and Amal McCaskill with 55. Fischer’s climb to 1,000 points in his Marquette career continues as he’s currently sitting on 964.

Markus Howard Watch: With 56 made three pointers on the season, Howard is all alone with the second most made triples by a freshman. The record is 57, held by Travis Diener. It’s entirely possible this record falls by the under 16 minute media timeout in the first half. Howard now has 109 three-point attempts on the season, moving him into a tie with Steve Novak for the 7th most attempts by a freshman, and David Cubillan is at #6 with 113. With 287 points on the season, Howard has inched within shouting distance of the top 10 for scoring by a Marquette freshman. He’d have to have a big day to catch Brian Wardle at #10 with 319 points, but if he catches fire for 40 minutes, 32 points isn’t completely impossible on Saturday.

Sam Hauser Watch: With 48 made threes, Hauser is tied for the sixth most made threes by a freshman with David Cubillan, with Duane Wilson (49) right in front of them. Hauser has the eighth most long range attempts by a freshman with 107, just two behind Howard and Novak at 109. The Stevens Point native has 12 blocks on the season, and believe it or not, that has him two away from the 10th most by a MU freshman. Three different players recorded 14 swats as a freshman, but Deonte Burton did it most recently. Hauser is quietly sneaking up the freshman rebounding chart with 124 on the season. Jim McIlvaine is 10th all time for freshmen with 132.

Andrew Rowsey Watch: The transfer from UNC Asheville now has 52 made threes on the season, which is tied with Dan Fitzgerald for the 9th most by a Marquette junior. If Rowsey goes haywire against Xavier, he could pass a bunch of guys. Lazar Hayward (53) and John Cliff (55) are easily within range for Rowsey, who already has four games this season with at least four made three pointers. He’s on pace to be the most accurate junior three-point shooter in program history, so he’s going to need 20 more tries before he gets into the top 10 for three-point attempts.

Follow Along On Twitter

@MarquetteMBB - Official Marquette account
@XavierMBB - Official Xavier account
@AnonymousEagle - Hey! That's us!
@BannersParkway - SB Nation's Xavier site
@becb_sbn - SB Nation's Big East site
@Matt_Velazquez - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat reporter