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2018 NIT Second Round Preview: #2 Marquette vs #3 Oregon

The Golden Eagles get one more home game with an eye on advancing to the quarterfinals.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Oregon vs North Carolina Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2018 National Invitation Tournament Second Round

#2 Marquette Golden Eagles (20-13) vs #3 Oregon Ducks (23-12)

Date: Sunday, March 18, 2018
Time: 3:30pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, WI

Marquette Stat Leaders

Points: Markus Howard, 20.5 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 5.8 rpg
Assists: Andrew Rowsey, 4.6 apg

Oregon Stat Leaders

Points: Payton Pritchard, 14.5 ppg
Rebounds: Troy Brown, 6.3 rpg
Assists: Payton Pritchard, 4.8 apg

KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #54
Oregon: #74
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 70% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 79-73.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 7-3

Oregon Last 10 Games: 6-4

All Time Series: Marquette and Oregon have met one time previously. That came back in January of 1928, and MU picked up the 16-15 win. Basketball in the ‘20s sounds like the worst.

The Stakes: The winner will host a quarterfinal game against #4 seed Penn State. The Nittany Lions defeated #1 seed Notre Dame, 73-63, on Saturday afternoon.

Tempo Free Fun: You might remember Oregon from their Final Four run last season, or perhaps their Elite Eight run the year before that. This is a totally different Ducks squad. Gone is Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, Chris Boucher, Dylan Ennis, and Jordan Bell. That’s a lot of dudes to replace, and unsurprisingly, Dana Altman’s team took a teensy step backwards this season. After two straight 30 win seasons, they went 23-12 overall and 10-8 in Pac-12 play. That’s a pretty decent season, but nowhere near NCAA tournament worthy. Between a lackluster non-conference schedule (kind of fair, given the turnover) where their best win was either Fresno State or DePaul (yeah, I know), and their league mates not holding up their end of the bargain (only three teams in the KenPom top 50), the Ducks found themselves well outside the bubble when it came time to put together the field of 68.

Marquette’s defensive efforts in this game are going to center on sophomore guard Payton Pritchard. After being a big contributor on the Final Four squad as a freshman, he’s stepped his game up this season. While his minutes and usage are both way up in 2018, so is his offensive efficiency, going from 111.6 to 117.2 according to KenPom. This is likely attached to a couple of things, both of which explain why MU will have to shut him down. First, he’s a more proficient passer than last year, boosting his already good assist rate into the top 200 in the country. It also helps that he cut down his turnovers, but that drop in his rate is smaller than his assist rate jump. The other thing is that he got CRAZY accurate on three-pointers while shooting a ton more of them. Pritchard is a 41% long range shooter this season, and he averages nearly six tries a game.

It’s possible that this game will turn into a three-point shooting convention. Oregon isn’t that far behind Marquette in terms of how much of their offense comes from behind the arc. If the Golden Eagles are hitting like they usually can (41.5% on the season) and that baits the Ducks into trying to match them, that’s going to work out for Marquette. Oregon likes shooting threes, but they’re not very good at it, connecting on just 36% of their attempts. For the most part, if there’s a Duck eyeing up a three, he probably needs to be covered. However, Troy Brown tries about three of them a game and he’s only connecting on 29% of them. Even better for Marquette, he’s only made one of his last nine attempts across the last four games for Oregon.

As far as the rest of Oregon’s offense goes, they’re competent, but not deadly in any particular angle. That’s potentially good news for Marquette, as we all know that MU can sometimes be as effective on defense as a screen door is to a strong breeze.

On the other end of the court, Marquette holds a significant advantage. Oregon has a top 100 defense according to KenPom, checking in at #92 in the country. They don’t defend the arc particularly well, allowing opponents to shoot an awful lot of threes, and also make an awful lot of threes. That’s good news. If MU isn’t hitting, things might get a little dicey. The best feature of Oregon’s defense is their defensive rebounding, which means that MU is going to have to put bodies on Troy Brown and MiKyle McIntosh specifically. The pair of 6’7” guys have top 450 defensive rebounding rates, and both get to at least four boards on that end per game.

Notable Oregon Alumni: Kent Alterman, president of Comedy Central; Jack Joyce, co-founder of Rogue Ales; Phil Knight, co-founder and chairman of Nike; Mickey Loomis, general manager of the New Orleans Saints; Lila Bell Wallace, co-founder of Reader’s Digest; Franklin Mieuli, principal owner of the Golden State Warriors; author Chuck Palahniuk; Robert Polet, Chairman & CEO of Gucci; television producer Stephen J. Cannell; movie director James Ivory of Merchant Ivory Productions fame; actress Kaitlin Olson, best known as Dee on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia; author Ken Kesey; Today Show anchor Ann Curry; ESPN anchor Neil Everett; current Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke; current Big East associate commissioner Stu Jackson; long distance runner Steve Prefontaine; and MMA star Chael Sonnen.

Team Watch: Here’s a stunner for you: We’ve already seen a team record for three-pointers made in a season. Marquette is sitting on 361, which is already shooting way past last year’s record of 336 in a season. Right now, this is the 3rd most accurate three-point shooting team in MU history at 41.5%. It’s going to be nip and tuck with the current fourth best mark of 41.3%, set in 2009-10. This squad is currently the best free throw shooting team in Marquette history, draining 80.1% of their attempts, surpassing the record of 78.1% set — wait for it — last season. This year’s team is one of the best ballhandling teams in Marquette history, ranking with the 4th fewest turnovers per game at 12.2 an outing. The 2013-14 team was at 12.0 and the 2010-11 team had 12.3, so there’s a lot of potential for movement there.

Greg Elliott Watch: The freshman from Detroit has the seventh most blocks by a freshman with 22, and is trailing teammate Theo John by just one. Up next is current MU women’s basketball assistant coach Scott Merritt, who had 25 in 2000-01.

Theo John Watch: With a block against Creighton, John now has the sixth most blocks by a Marquette freshman all to himself at 23. He’s chasing Scott Merritt at 25.

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 91 made threes, which is the second most by a Marquette sophomore, trailing behind wherever Howard’s new sophomore record is at any given moment. It’s also the 4th most in any single season, trailing Steve Novak’s all time record, and wherever Howard and Andrew Rowsey happen to be. Hauser’s 182 attempts from long range have surpassed Duane Wilson for the seventh most by a MU sophomore. Next up on the list is Dominic James at 184. Hauser is currently sitting on 476 points after his 4 point outing against Harvard, which is the sixth best sophomore total in MU history, passing Dean Meminger at 475. Next up is James again at 506.

Andrew Rowsey Watch: Rowsey now has a team high 113 made three-pointers on the season, which is the second most by a Marquette senior, the 2nd most in any MU season, and just the second time any Marquette player has splashed 100 triples in a season. Steve Novak’s senior year record of 121 is the only total left in front of him on both charts. Rowsey is up to 279 three-point tries this season, which breaks Novak’s senior year total of 259 as the program’s all time record. Rowsey’s campaign is just the seventh time a Marquette player has attempted 200 or more three-point shots in a season. Rowsey has the seventh most made free throws by a senior with 154. Davante Gardner is up next at 157, and that mark is the 10th most in any single season. Rowsey’s accuracy is absurd, as he still needs eight more attempts from the stripe to get into the senior top 10 in that department. Rowsey had six assists against Harvard to pass Derrick Wilson for the sixth most helpers by a Marquette senior with 152, and he’s eight away from Travis Diener in fifth at 160. With 22 points against Villanova, Rowsey became the 49th MU player to ever hit 1,000 career points, the seventh to do it in just two seasons, and the fifth player IN NCAA HISTORY to score 1,000 points for two different teams. He’s now up to 1,029 points in a Marquette uniform, which has him in 44th place all-time, and chasing Ron Curry at 1,043 for 43rd in this game. Rowsey already has the third best senior scoring season in MU history with 658 points. Next up is Tony Smith at 689, so Rowsey is going to need either A) an explosion or B) a Marquette victory to move up further. On the all time single season chart, Rowsey sits at fifth place all time with George Thompson at 664 up next.

Markus Howard Watch: It’s official: This is the best sophomore scoring season in Marquette history. With 4 points against DePaul, Howard is up to 655, and that has surpassed the one and only Dwyane Wade at 571. That quickly jumped him up the 10 single season scoring chart all the way up to #6. Next up is George Thompson at 664. Howard’s 105 made three-pointers are the most by a Marquette sophomore, passing Steve Novak’s 89, and he trails only Rowsey right now and Novak’s senior year record of 121 on the all-time chart. Howard’s 261 three-point attempts is now the most by a Marquette sophomore, surpassing Novak’s record of 207. 261 long range attempts in a season is also the sixth 200+ attempt season in Marquette history and the second most in any single season by any Marquette player, passing Novak’s senior season (259) and trailing wherever Rowsey’s current total sits. His 224 made field goals are the second most by a MU sophomore, surpassing Dwyane Wade (223) and coming up on Jim Chones (230). Howard’s 484 total shots on the season is a new sophomore record, passing Wade at 458. that puts Howard at #10 all time for makes and #9 all time in attempts in a single season. Howard is the sixth player to record 1,000 career points for Marquette in just two seasons, just barely beating Rowsey to the punch. He’s up to 1,065 right now, which means he ranks #38 all time, and has already passed Chris Crawford, Scott Merritt and Jae Crowder. Bernard Toone is next on the chart at 1103, so we might have to wait a while to see that, either next season.... or maybe in New York?