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Marquette Basketball Preview Primer: vs Creighton Bluejays

One final regular season game for 2018, one final game at the Bradley Center before it’s gone forever.

NCAA Basketball: Akron at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette Golden Eagles (17-12, 8-9) vs Creighton Bluejays (21-9, 10-7)

Date: Saturday, March 3, 2018
Time: 1:30pm Central
Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

Marquette Stat Leaders

Points: Markus Howard, 20.8 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 6.0 rpg
Assists: Andrew Rowsey, 4.6 apg

Creighton Stat Leaders

Points: Marcus Foster, 20.0 ppg
Rebounds: Ronnie Harrell, 6.5 rpg
Assists: Khyri Thomas & Davion Mintz, 2.9 apg

KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #49
Creighton: #27
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 53% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 84-83.

Tempo Free Fun: So let’s recap things, shall we?

Coming off an inexcusable loss to St. John’s, Marquette strikes out to an early lead but falls behind Creighton in Omaha by eight when Markus Howard falls and injures his hip. The lead balloons to 16, but gets trimmed to 12 at halftime. In the second half, Marquette goes on an incredible tear with Howard out of the game, rallies, and wins.

The Jays react by going to Indianapolis three days later and getting completely poleaxed in a 23 point loss to Butler. Upon their return to Omaha, they shoot Villanova out of the barn, beat the Wildcats, and then tack on a smashing of DePaul to close out the C’Link for the season.

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, the Golden Eagles gain revenge on the Johnnies in their next game out, but suffer another inexcusable loss, this time on the road against DePaul. They turn around and pull out an absurd overtime road win over Georgetown to put MU on the brink of figuring out a way to get into the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid.

But as it was just a few weeks ago, Creighton stands in Marquette’s way.

The Golden Eagles desperately needed to beat the Bluejays back on February 17th, and somehow, they actually did it. The problem is that we have no idea of being able to tell whether or not that they can do it again.

MU looked like two completely different teams with and without Markus Howard in that game in Omaha. The team with him was the seemingly typically mercurial Golden Eagles squad, capable of incredible firepower and also maddening defensive failures. Without Howard, though, it was seemingly nothing but a white hot greasefire of pure entertainment. Lots of guys contributed, the team came together to make stop after stop, and they ended up securing the W.

Howard’s going to play on Saturday, though. The question is what did Steve Wojciechowski learn about his team in the second half of the first meeting, when Howard was out of the game, that he can apply to this one? He seems to have unlocked a key to beating the Jays in general, having defeated Greg McDermott’s teams in four straight meetings across three seasons now, but good luck finding a Marquette fan that’s 100% confident in MU’s ability to get the fifth one.

The worst part about it all? Season’s on the line. Lose, and Marquette has to win the Big East tournament to make it to the Big Dance. Win, and Marquette probably still needs to help themselves with a win (or two?) in New York in the Big East tournament. The second option isn’t exactly appealing, but it’s definitely the best option.

Oh, and one final cherry on the sundae: It’s Marquette’s final scheduled game in the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Fingers crossed that they don’t need to come back for the NIT in two weeks.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 4-6, but all four wins are in the last six games, including two of the last three.

Creighton Last 10 Games: 6-4, but that includes their weird non-con matchup with Bemidji State. Make it D1 only, and it’s actually 5-5 with an overtime win at home over Villanova.

All Time Series: Marquette leads, 53-32.

Current Streak: Marquette has won the last four straight against Creighton.

Greg Elliott Watch: The freshman from Detroit is tied with teammate Theo John for 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: With two blocks against DePaul, John has moved up into a tie for the sixth most blocks by a Marquette freshman with teammate Greg Elliott. Both guys have 21 and are 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 87 made threes, two behind Steve Novak for 2nd most all-time by a sophomore and five behind Howard’s new sophomore record. It’s also the seventh most in any single season. Hauser’s 167 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.

Andrew Rowsey Watch: Rowsey now has a team high 95 made three-pointers on the season, which is the second most by a Marquette senior and the 2nd most in any MU 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 243 three-point tries this season, which is also the 2nd most for any Marquette player, with only Novak’s senior year total of 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. After going 4-for-4 against DePaul from the free throw stripe, Rowsey now has the 8th most made free throws by a senior with 141, passing Mike Morgan at 136, but then it’s a while before we get to Rube Schulz at 150. Rowsey’s accuracy is absurd, as he still needs 26 more attempts from the stripe to get into the senior top 10 in that department. Rowsey needs four most assists to tie Butch Lee and Jerel McNeal at 137 for the 10th most helpers by a Marquette senior.

Markus Howard Watch: It’s official: This is the best sophomore scoring season in Marquette history. With 16 points against Georgetown, Howard is up to 581, and that has surpassed the one and only Dwyane Wade at 571. Howard’s 92 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 236 three-point attempts is now the most by a Marquette sophomore, surpassing Novak’s record of 207. 236 long range attempts in a season is also the sixth 200+ attempt season in Marquette history and the 3rd most in any single season by any Marquette player, trailing Novak’s senior season (259) and Rowsey’s current total of 243. His 200 made field goals are tied with George Thompson for the third most by a MU sophomore. Howard’s 434 total shots on the season is just the seventh time a Marquette sophomore has broken past 400 in a season, and he currently sits in 4th place on that list. Dominic James is up next in third place with 445.