Marquette Golden Eagles (16-11, 7-8) at DePaul Blue Demons (10-17, 3-12)
Date: Saturday, February 24
Time: 11 a.m. Central
Location: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL
Marquette Stats Leaders
Points: Markus Howard, 21.3 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 5.9 rpg
Assists: Andrew Rowsey, 4.5 apg
Marquette Injury Note: Markus Howard is still listed as doubtful for this game.
DePaul Stats Leaders
Points: Max Strus, 17 ppg
Rebounds: Marin Maric, 6.4 rpg
Assists: Eli Cain, 4.7 apg
Current KenPom Rankings
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 58% chance to win, with a predicted score of 80-78.
Tempo Free Fun: I’m sorry, I still can’t get past that predicted score. Only two points? And only a 58 percent chance? I do wonder if this is because Markus Howard will (most likely) not play against the Blue Demons, but either way, if the game is this close, just tell me now so I don’t have to watch it.
LOL just kidding, I would watch that. I’m a glutton for punishment.
AAAAAAAAnyway, back in January when the teams met for the first time, we described as “not a ‘must-win’ but still a ‘can’t-lose.’” Well, if you’ve tuned out every game since then, 1) Why are you tuning back in now, and 2) tomorrow is definitely a must-win. Marquette pretty much needs everything they can get right now, as their win last week over Creighton kept what little hope they have left alive. But it still looks as though they can win out and at least be on the bubble. They’re not in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology over on ESPN, nor CBS’s Jerry Palm’s. Bracket Matrix currently has them in the First Four out, appearing in 10 of the 80 brackets. So, there is some hope.
Of course, much of this hope hinges on Markus Howard’s absence. There’s been no change to his status as of today, but the Golden Eagles are 1.5-0 without him (he at least played some of the Creighton game, but they did mount their massive comeback without him).
OK, real quick, if you’re reading this and thinking “hmm, maybe Marquette is…better…without Howard…,” get your &%@(?*& head out of your ^(@&)$?> ass. If you can honestly say that you’d prefer Marquette to go down the stretch without Howard because of how they’ve played for a game and a half, I respect your commitment to the bit, but also, shut up.
One revelation Wojo has been able to come to without Howard is the tentative effectiveness of playing a zone with all of Marquette’s long athletes. They forced St. John’s to shoot the 3-ball well, which they did to an extent, but made penetration and shots inside really tough. You know who’s not very good at shooting from the outside?
I think, at this point, we all know and love DePaul, so I’m not going to dissect their personnel, but I do want to just compare some numbers that I think shows why Marquette has more than a 58 percent chance to win by more than two points.
On the defensive end for Marquette, opponents take the least 3-point shots per FGA in the Big East, maybe because MU is good at defending the arc, but more likely because Marquette’s 2-point defense is atrocious. But to break this zone, DePaul will likely have to do so from the outside, where they are a league-worst 32.3 percent. If they do indeed look to penetrate, I would recommend Marquette collapse on the ball, because if they kick out for a 3, they likely won’t make it, if they continue to the basket, there’ll be a lot of bodies around to take a shot that they only hit 48.8 percent of, and if they get fouled, DePaul shoots a very nice 69 percent from the line. So, they do struggle to score, which is great for a team like Marquette that can’t play defense. Basically, I think having to play the combination of Greg Elliott, Jamal Cain and known-scoring threat Sacar Anim works out really well for Marquette, despite the fact that I would give Markus Howard my own hip if it would guarantee his health for the year (I have pretty solid hips, I can’t lie).
DePaul also plays pretty fast, clocking in with the highest tempo in the Big East. The more possessions Marquette has, the more they score. It’s pretty simple. DePaul’s defense is decent, for DePaul, and it did give Marquette some trouble (though much of that just felt like sluggish shooting) in The Ugliest 18-Point Win of All-Time™ back in January, but I wouldn’t sweat it tomorrow.
Of course, with the 11 a.m. start, let’s hope the early morning won’t throw the boys off. I sure hope I wake up on time.
Greg Elliott Watch: The freshman from Detroit has the sixth most blocks by a freshman with 21. Up next is current MU women’s basketball assistant coach Scott Merritt, who had 25 in 2000-01.
Theo John Watch: John still sits at 19 blocks on the season, leaving him in a three-way tie for the seventh most by a Marquette freshmen with Sam Hauser and Charles Luter. He’s one behind the aforementioned Greg Elliott and six behind Scott Merritt.
Sam Hauser Watch: I feel so bad for the sophomore from Stevens Point. After assembling one of the greatest freshman shooting campaigns in Marquette history, he’s doing the same thing as a sophomore and is being completely overshadowed by Markus Howard yet again. Hauser has 77 made threes, 12 behind Steve Novak for most all-time by a sohomore. His 153 attempts leave him one behind the ninth-place Darius Johnson-Odom at 154.
Andrew Rowsey Watch: Rowsey now has 88 made three-pointers on the season, which is the second most by a Marquette senior and the 5th most in any MU season. Steve Novak’s senior year record of 121 is the only total left in front of him on that chart, while Novak’s sophomore and junior years at 89 each are next on the all-time single season list. Travis Diener’s 90 in his junior year is sitting in second all-time, and is probably going to fall on Saturday. Rowsey is up to 221 three-point tries this season, which is the 2nd most for a Marquette senior, with only Steve Novak (259) in front of him. Rowsey’s campaign is just the seventh time a Marquette player has attempted 200 or more three-point shots in a season, and he currently ranks second behind Novak on that list, too. After going 1-for-2 against St. John’s from the free throw stripe, Rowsey now has the 10th most made free throws by a senior with 134, one short of Jerel McNeal at 135. Mike Morgan has 136, but then it’s a while before we get to Rube Schulz at 150. Rowsey’s accuracy is absurd, as he still needs 33 more attempts from the stripe to get into the senior top 10 in that department.
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
@BenSteeleMJS - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat reporter