The Marquette Golden Eagles will open up the National Marquette Day weekend playing the Providence Friars Friday night. They will then close the weekend on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Creighton Bluejays. The Golden Eagles will be happy to come home after dropping the last two of three on the road. The last one came against a very good DePaul team that didn’t seem to miss a shot in the game back on Monday night. DePaul shares the lead at the top of the Big East with the Golden Eagles, with both teams sitting at 8-2 in conference play. These last eight games is a race between Marquette and DePaul to see who can rack up more wins to close the season.
Good news for Marquette is that they have won 15 straight at the Al McGuire dating back to last season. They will definitely like their chances this weekend against a Providence team who’s dead last in the Big East and a Blue Jay side who MU beat with ease in Omaha by 15 points. Aside from their arms race with DePaul, the Golden Eagles will also be chasing a bit of history as the program record for consecutive home victories stands at 23. With two wins this weekend, they will have 17 straight and be six games away from tying that record. Sad news: there are only two more home games after this weekend.
Big East Game #11: vs Providence Friars (9-14, 2-9 Big East)
Date: Friday, February 2. 2018
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, WI
Streaming: Big East Digital on Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: GameTracker
Special Promotion: Hey, turn up early and go to the pep rally in the parking lot across the street. There’s going to be s’mores, mac & cheese, & hot chocolate. Oh, and if you show up to the pep rally, you get into the game for FREE.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
The Providence Friars had lost seven in a row before they took down St. John’s last Sunday. Coincidentally, the Red Storm is the only team the Friars have beaten in Big East play after earning an away victory against them exactly one month ago. Should we be scared of this Providence team? Absolutely not. But here’s what they’ve got going for them so far this season.
The Friars have the highest 3-point percentage in the Big East connecting on 39% of their shots. Granted, this is a bit deceiving because only three of Providence’s players have attempted a three pointer this season. I know, a bit sad right? This list consists of Jovana Nogic, who’s leading the team in scoring with 17.1, Maddie Jolin, who’s second on the team with 11.9, and Clara Che, who’s averaging 6.9 points per game on 27 minutes per game average. Of the three, Jolin’s got the best percentage at 43% but Nogic has attempted more and made more hitting 65 of her 164 threes. Marquette boasts the second best 3-point defense in the Big East allowing just 30% from deep. Something’s got to give here. My gut feeling is MU will find a way to neutralize the Friar’s 3-point shooting knowing that only three players are capable of shooting from long-range. For what it’s worth, the Friars only shot 35% on triples in the last meeting, and Marquette won that one in Rhode Island by 17.
Another thing to look out for is Providence’s attention towards defensive boards. They have the highest defensive rebounding percentage in the Big East at 71.2%. For those of you wondering at home, it’s just the differential of their defensive rebounding pitted against the opponents offensive rebounding. It’s not made up, I promise. As you can tell, I’m searching for strengths of this Friars team at this point. Give them a pat on the back but its not going to matter one bit if the Golden Eagles have a hot shooting night. Which by the way is very likely because 1) it’s the opening act of National Marquette Day weekend for crying out loud and 2) Natisha Hiedeman’s been getting back into her groove lately...that combined with Allazia Blockton’s guaranteed 20 points and the likely odds that Amani Wilborn and/or Danielle King will be on fuego will make for a fun game to watch for us fans.
On to the more difficult opponent of the two...
Big East Game #12: vs Creighton Bluejays (13-8, 7-4 Big East)
The Bluejays are an interesting team as they have one three game losing streak and two three game winning streaks in Big East play. They are fresh off their second three game winning streak so history says the Golden Eagles are going to take this one. Especially because in the last three games, two of them have gone to overtime. Weird fact: in both the Bluejays held the opponent to 64 points. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is Creighton’s luck is over and they are due for a loss.
They have four players averaging double-digits scoring which include Audrey Faber (15.8), Jaylyn Agnew (14.4), Sydney Lamberty (11.2), and Olivia Elger (10.5). This leads me to believe that they are pretty balanced offensively. The Bluejays have a not-too-shabby 42% field goal percentage but (more importantly) are hitting 37% of their threes. The Bluejays are arguably better than the Friars from behind the arc because they have more players that can consistently hit the long-range shots. The Golden Eagles will have to chase the Bluejays off the 3-point line and force them to beat them going at the basket.
Creighton also does a good job of taking care of the ball. They are averaging the second fewest turnovers in the league at 12.3 per game. That, combined with their average of 17.7 assists per game (also second highest) makes them a difficult team to defend. Look for Marquette to run their good ole full court press sporadically throughout the game to try and force turnovers and get Creighton on their heels. Alternate game plan, get the Al McGuire as loud as possible Sunday afternoon so the Bluejays can hardly think on the court. I see this being a close game for the Golden Eagles but if they can hit their high percentage shots that they are so good at creating, I think they can overpower the Bluejay defense and get the victory.
Lastly, we have to mention that Allazia Blockton is 30 points away from joining the elite Marquette top-10 all-time leading scorers. Blockton is up to 1,521 in here two-plus year career, and Katherine Plouffe currently occupies the #10 slot at 1,551 points. She will likely hit that mark by the end of the weekend. She is also a finalist for the Anne Meyers Drysdale award which is given to the top shooting guard in the country. Give her a high five if you see her around campus because that is a major accomplishment.