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Marquette vs. #1 Villanova: Three Things We Learned

Including arguably the weirdest coincidental stats of all time.

Darren Hauck, Associated Press

1. The curious case of Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard.

So... first of all, hat tip to our good friend @PaintTouches for pointing this out on Twitter. What I’m about to show you is very, very bizarre. There’s literally no explanation for it. Or at least not one that I’m aware of. Just accept it, take a breath, and we’ll talk about it in a second.

Yeah.

So, looks like the two of them can never play well together during a home or road game. On Sunday against Villanova, Howard had a decent first half and looked ready to buck the trend before he missed every shot he took in the second half, including a free throw, and finishing with 13 points on 5-18 shooting (3-9 from 3). Rowsey, on the other hand, had a fine first half as well, but then he really turned it on in the second half, finishing with 29 points on 8-16 (5-9), plus 8-9 at the stripe. It’s so weird, man. Based on the stats, Howard does fare a little better at home than Rowsey does on the road, but it’s not good enough for this team to win games like this one. All of Rowsey’s bad road games have been in conference play, so better competition on the road may explain some of it. Howard has had some great games against cupcakes at home (11-15 on 3s against Chicago State). They both played well on the road at Wisconsin, but that was still in the state, so maybe there’s something to that.

Of course, what does this mean for the tournament? The jury, I think, is still out on neutral site games. If you look at Maui, neither one of them shot very well from 3, probably because of sheer volume, but I’ll chalk that up to the weird, small gym. Now that the offense has worked itself out with all the newcomers, let’s hope the Big East Tournament will be a catalyst for big games from each of them.

Or Wednesday against Butler would be cool too.

2. Marquette is in pretty good standing for the NCAA Tournament.

Joe Lunardi, ESPN bracket expert, sent out his weekly seed listing early Saturday morning, showing Marquette sitting at 39.

Obviously, this was before a close loss to Joey Brackets’ #1 overall seed, so I don’t think he plans to drop Marquette very much. Of course, Marquette could lose games to DePaul, Georgetown and St. John’s down the stretch and totally drop out of tourney contention. But that would be dumb and also not very probably so let’s think about the most realistic scenario.

The two teams Marquette plays this coming week, Butler and Providence, are within five seed lines of Marquette. Providence is two lines ahead of Marquette, and Marquette has beaten them on the road already, so a win at home puts them in a nice position there. As for Butler, I wouldn’t expect to jump past them if Marquette were to win on Wednesday, but that’s a quality victory over a near-lock for the tournament, so it certainly helps Marquette’s standings in terms of teams in front of them.

As for teams behind them, names that stick out are Texas A&M and Notre Dame, two teams that are looking right over the edge at an absolute free-fall. Not worried about them. Kansas State is about on-par with Marquette, and has a much tougher remaining schedule, which leaves a lot of room for great wins, but also a lot of losses in a very good Big 12 conference. Middle Tennessee State upset Michigan State as a 15-seed two years ago, so they deserve a 1-seed and I’m fine with them jumping Marquette. Syracuse *fart noise*. Boise State, whatever.

Bottom line, you shouldn’t be worried right now about Marquette falling much farther than where they are right now. In fact, the most likely scenario is ending up right about where they were last year: a 10-seed many people expected to win, getting shellacked in the second half of their first-round game and watching the team that beat them march to the Final Four.

3. Hey. Let’s keep starting Harry Froling.

Since we here at AE make all personnel decisions regarding Marquette men’s basketball starting lineups and rotations, we’re going to keep starting Harry Froling. I really liked what I saw on Sunday! He really kept the offense flowing well, opening up the lane for Sacar Anim to drive, he was mobile and switchable on defense and by golly, he’s just a fun guy to watch. He turned in 11 points of his own, a career high (Fosters for everyone!). with a couple of assists and rebounds each. I’m not that worried about the lack of rebounds, he was all over the court when shots went up. We’ve seen how great of a rebounder he is already. I love Matt Heldt and think that he’ll be valuable against bigger guys down the stretch, but if Marquette wants to keep their offense blazing, I think Froling should be getting most of the minutes. He logged 27 against the Wildcats, which I would expect to drop to 23-25, and Heldt to take most of the rest. The fouls are obviously a problem with all three big men, so when that happens, you just kind of have to throw your hands up and say “OK, start making 3s.”

Part of the reason he started, or actually probably the whole reason, is because Villanova’s starting big fella, Omari Spellman, is a pretty similar mobile-type of center. That makes total sense. But because I think Froling could do a pretty decent job on the traditional big men in the conference, and because I don’t think Marquette should try and act like they can shut down a team on 2-point shots, stick to your guns and play Froling, because this team wins with offense and he’s a better fit for it.