Victory has never tasted so sweet for the Marquette Golden Eagles on Sunday afternoon. They not only crushed St. John’s 76-57, but also secured their very first Big East regular season title.
Sure, they technically have to share it with DePaul but they own the tiebreaker (thanks Villanova) and therefore have the #1 seed going into the Big East tournament. They have every reason to celebrate this incredible season because it’s the first time in their history that they’ve won the Big East regular season title and been the #1 seed in the Big East tournament.
The Golden Eagles are slated to play the winner of the 8/9 match up between Butler and Providence while DePaul will play the winner of the 7/10 game between Seton Hall and Xavier. Boy oh boy I’m glad I was wrong about the outcome of the Creighton-Villanova game because now the Golden Eagles get the #1 seed in the tournament and in theory have the easiest path to the finals. Since Marquette and DePaul are tied atop the conference at 15-3, the #1 seed needed to be decided by tiebreaker. In this case, each team’s record against the third place team is the tiebreaker as MU and DePaul split their regular season series at one win each. When Villanova beat Creighton Sunday afternoon, the Wildcats surpassed the Bluejays in the standings and locked up the #3 seed. Since Marquette has a better record against Villanova (2-0) than DePaul does (1-1), they win the tiebreaker.
I must add that the game between Creighton and ‘Nova was sooo incredibly terrible, I found myself laughing many times throughout the contest. It seemed like every time I looked up (Marquette was beating St. John’s comfortably, so it made for an easy choice to check in), it was a missed shot by one of the teams. Both offenses were non-existent and Villanova simply got the early lead on Creighton and the Bluejays could not make enough shots to make a comeback. To give you an idea of how bad the game was (because I’m sure you didn’t watch it), the final score was 55-48 with Villanova shooting around 37% and Creighton hitting just 33% of their field goals. It was literally a first to 50 game, and not just because Villanova and their tempo was involved. Neither of these teams played well with a third place spot on the line and Marquette should not be concerned about playing either of them in the near future. With what I saw from the game today, Creighton might not get past St. John’s and ‘Nova may not beat Georgetown. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Golden Eagles end up playing the Johnnies in the semifinals and DePaul squares off against the Hoyas.
Anyway, let’s talk about the Marquette game, which was very fun to watch as MU methodically dissected the St. John’s defense. Four MU players were in double figures in scoring, including Allazia Blockton with 19, Amani Wilborn with 18, Erika Davenport with a nice double-double with 12 points and 11 boards, and Danielle King rounded out the list with 11 points. The offense was efficient hitting over 48% of their shots but it was the defense that won the game for Marquette. Tell me if you haven’t heard this before: MU’s press in the first quarter forced the Johnnies into seven turnover, right down to getting SJU to the point where they couldn’t seem to inbound the ball either. Coach Carolyn Kieger’s decision to switch from zone to man throughout the game also played into the MU defense’s success. St. John’s shot 38% and only hit 3 of 16 three point tries. The Johnnies ended up with 17 turnovers that also proved costly because the Golden Eagles capitalized with 21 points off those turnovers.
The outcome was never really in doubt after the first quarter and the Golden Eagles led by as much as 20 points in the game. It’s great to see MU close out their season by blowing out a team on their own court after needing to go to overtime to beat the Red Storm in Milwaukee. Especially because they might see St. John’s in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.
Up Next: The Golden Eagles will play the winner of the 8/9 game between Butler and Providence in the quarterfinals on Sunday, March 4th, at noon Central. That game will be televised on FS2. Marquette swept both Butler and Providence in the regular season. You can check out the entire Big East Tournament bracket here.