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2018 NIT Recap: Marquette 67, Harvard 60

We don’t make a single reference to Harvard being a bunch of nerds. I promise.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Wisconsin
Markus Howard led Marquette with 22 points on Wednesday night.
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

That game was a tough watch, but Marquette marches on after defeating Harvard, 67-60. It was such a taxing watch, though, that we needed TWO people to really parse out a recap. Connor and Ben really couldn’t bring themselves to talk about the game at length, so enjoy their discussion instead.

Connor: I’ve never let an event featuring displays of athleticism affect my academic ability or general brainpower, but I feel truly dumber for watching this game. First of all, it’s the NIT, so it’s tough to get excited about it in the first place (kudos to the student section for at least pretending), but it wasn’t even a good game. Missed shots, turnovers, other turnovers, shots that didn’t go in, etc. I mean, I guess I’m glad Marquette won, but now I have to watch another NIT game? Benjamin, hello. What are your thoughts, if you have the brain capacity left for any, on that basketball game?

Ben: Hi Connor. That game felt like a low level high school game in terms of style of play, student sections chants, and announcer quality. I vote that Marquette secedes from the Big East so that there’s never a chance of me hearing the phrase “Big Eastie Boys” ever again. We should talk about the fourth quarter defense, I guess.

C: Full disclosure, readers, we’re doing this as the game is still going on, and watching Harvard chip away at the lead is, to be frank, sad. Because despite the fact that these teams are decent and this game could be competitive, it doesn’t seem like either of them are trying at all. Particularly Marquette, on the defense end of the floor. For instance, they’ve turned the ball over bringing the ball up the floor a couple times just now, and played the same amount of defense I would play during my rec league practice after a turnover, which is, to say, NONE.

B: ROASTED. Um, yeah. The defense in the first three quarters was good?? Harvard didn’t have Seth Towns, their best player, available and seemed to think their best option was throwing it in on iso post-ups to a guy with a height disadvantage, but Marquette actually did a good job at pressuring the ball and forcing like 87 turnovers. It just all fell apart at the end with lazy attempts at getting in front of ball handlers, which is to say that they played their normal defense. I don’t want to get horribly caught up in the bad, so let’s talk about dunks.

C: Greg Elliott had one! And it was pretty cool! He really just ended a man’s life, and he’s only 19 years old. I can only imagine how exciting it would be if it was in an important game in the BMOHBC (RIP). That was also a particularly fun Jamal Cain game. Gotta say, I’m really excited for the two of them. Anyways, let’s go back to that “Big Eastie Boys” thing. Green Day was really their third option for a musical group of three? I kind of always thought that no one knew the other two Green Day guys’ names.

B: I honestly didn’t.

C: I’m just still trying to pick up the pieces of my brain after watching that. Matt Heldt actually had a couple really nice blocks in that game, and he proceeded to show negative emotion, which is something I really enjoy about him. He could kind of care less about anything cool he does. He’s just out there to play ball.

B: I did enjoy some #LactoseIntolerance this evening. Here’s a fun fact: Marquette shot the exact same percentage outside the arc as inside. 43.8%. It has been a little bit of a disturbing trend recently with their inside scoring. 10 of their last 12 games have resulted in 2 point percentages at or less than 50. Guards seem to be finishing less efficiently than they had at the beginning of the year.

C: My only possible answer for this is that with only two guards being a serious threat to score (our good pals Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey), opposing defenses have no qualms about collapsing on them. Either that, or they both have some sort of Benjamin Button-esque condition, but with their shooting.

B: Qualm is a great word.

C: Thanks.

B: No problem, pal. Alright one more thing about the fourth quarter. Those pressure-induced turnovers were really something we hadn’t seen much this year. They hadn’t faced a lot of pressure defenses, but last year’s late game situations were always so nerve-wracking because really only Katin Reinhardt could be kinda trusted to bring the ball up when opposing defenses needed a turnover. I hate projecting my own observations onto what I think is going through the players’ minds, but a potential lack of taking these games seriously could mean bad news against Oregon.

C: I know that Oregon scored 99 points.

B: Wait hold on I want you to finish this thought, but I just found out that Oregon lost TO UCONN BY 8 AHAHAHAHAHAHA I don’t care if Matt Heldt lays prostrate every defensive possession Marquette’s winning by 30.

C: Hahahahahahahhaa oh man now I’m laughing too. I lost my train of thought.

Oh wait, got it.

So, Oregon scored a lot of points, which, without even having watched the game, I can tell they were pushing the ball a lot. You can’t score 99 points if you aren’t. If Marquette plays like they did tonight, I don’t see how the Ducks run circles around them. I don’t think Oregon pressures you on defense, though. They’re not great at defending the 3-point line, but they’re not bad. I’d be concerned that their guards are too big for Marquette to shoot over, but I’ve been concerned about that all year. Seems like a ho-hum game to me.

B: Same. I think the finish to the game will dominate the narratives tomorrow, and for good reason, but ¾ of the game were played pretty damn well. I think they’ll be likely to win tomorrow. I think we should finish off with some trivia. What’s the capital of Oregon? Don’t look it up.

C: It’s not Portland, I feel like that’s too obvious. Is it Salem?

B: It is! I really just wanted to use this article to tell everyone that I know every single state capital. Not to brag.

C: What’s the state capital of Idaho?

B: Boise, bissssshhhhhhhh.

C: Oh, I didn’t think it would be that obvious. But then again, I don’t think Idaho has any other cities. Want to know the worst part about this Oregon game?

B: They don’t have Luke Ridnour anymore?

C: No, but solid reference. The worst part is that it’s on Sunday at 3:30, which means I’ll likely feel obligated to watch an NIT game over actual important NCAA Tournament games. Speaking of the NIT, real quick, what did you think of the rule experimentation?

B: Fellow Ben, Marquette beat writer Ben Steele, used the phrase “Experimental distance”, which aroused me for some reason but I can’t complain about that. Overall I liked it quite a bit. I think the wider lanes especially could help make the actual gameplay a lot less choppy.

C: I think the new foul limit was great for game flow, and if that comes about because of quarters, then quarters it is. I didn’t pay too much attention to the new court dimensions, but I guess that’s why we have another game. Any parting thoughts? Basketball or otherwise.

B: I had no idea Jay Sean was British until tonight. Absolutely mind-boggling. That’s all.

C: Wow.