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2018 Big East Tournament Preview: #7 Marquette Golden Eagles vs #10 DePaul Blue Demons

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oh god this is a thing that’s actually happening save us

marq v depaul

2018 Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament First Round

#7 Marquette Golden Eagles vs #10 DePaul Blue Demons

Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Time: 8:30pm Central
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Television: FS1, with Gus Johnson, Bill Raftery, and Lisa Byington on the call
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Radio: 540 ESPN Milwaukee, with Steve “The Homer” True and Jim McIlvaine on the call
Line: Marquette -5.5
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMBB
Season Series: 1-1, with each team winning at home
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 75-47. The Golden Eagles have won 11 of the last 14, and each of the three losses has been permanently seared into my brain forever.

Marquette Stat Leaders

Points: Markus Howard, 20.9 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 6.1 rpg
Assists: Andrew Rowsey, 4.7 apg

DePaul Stat Leaders

Points: Max Strus, 16.6 ppg
Rebounds: Marin Maric, 6.5 rpg
Assists: Eli Cain, 4.5 apg

KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #50
DePaul: #100
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 69% (nice) chance of victory, with a predicted score of 80-75.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 5-5, but one of the losses was to DePaul.

DePaul Last 10 Games: 2-8, but one of the wins was over Marquette.

Tempo Free Fun: Okay. Stupid ol’ DePaul.

The Golden Eagles played two awful games against the Blue Demons this season. One, at the Bradley Center, was a win. The other, at Wintrust Arena, was a loss.

The problem for the Golden Eagles against DePaul this season has been the fact that the matchup is an issue of strength vs strength and weakness vs weakness. Marquette has a fantastic offense, ranking #13 in the country in efficiency according to KenPom.com, while DePaul’s defense ranks #42 on that chart. That’s strength vs strength. When we flip to the other end of the court, it’s just two four-year-olds slapfighting with pool noodles. DePaul’s offensive efficiency ranking (#183) is somehow actually worse that Marquette’s defensive efficiency ranking (#164). That’s weakness vs weakness.

That’s the riddle for Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski this season. How can he get his team to score at a reasonable enough level against a high quality defense to counteact the fact that his defense hasn’t really show the ability to limit anyone else’s offense? It mostly worked in Milwaukee, with the Golden Eagles scoring just under a point per possession while DePaul’s offense flopped around like a marlin freshly yanked out of the ocean. The Blue Demons shot just 20-for-67 in that game, including 2-of-12 from long range, and they committed 17 turnovers. Maybe Marquette had a hand in the turnovers, one of the rare things that MU does right on defense (#73 in the country), but I think we’ve seen enough MU games this season to know that DePaul performance was more the Blue Demons being bad than it was Marquette locking them down.

As for the outing in Chicago, it was not a case of DePaul’s offense suddenly lighting on fire. No one is going to accuse a 0.97 points per possession performance or 22-for-59 shooting of being a good job any time soon. No, in this case, it was DePaul’s prolific defense that snuffed the life out of the Marquette offense. The Golden Eagles managed just 0.86 points per possession, and shot under 30% from long distance. BREAKING NEWS: Marquette’s whole deal is predicated on the offense hitting 40% of their threes every night. 3-of-11 from distance from Andrew Rowsey isn’t going to cut it, and 2-of-7 from Markus Howard isn’t helpful, either.

The worst part about the loss in Chicago is that it was a collapse. Marquette led by five at the half, and they were up seven early in the second half. Between MU scoring the first points of the second half and the 10 minute mark, DePaul outscored Marquette 18-5 to flip the entire contest on its head. Marquette never recovered from that.

This can not be overstated: Marquette has to play a full 40 minutes of their best possible basketball on Wednesday night. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. The season, quite literally, is riding on it. Bracket Matrix updated at 9:40am on Tuesday, the most recent update as of this writing, and with that update, Marquette was the second team out of the field. They appear on just 47 of the 130 brackets compiled in the Matrix. In short: The Golden Eagles have not given 64% of bracketologists a reason to put them in the field. Losing to DePaul, the last place team in the Big East, is not a way to actually prove anything to that 64%.

Cards on the table: Beating DePaul might not prove anything to them either, and if we’re being honest, it probably won’t prove anything. Losing to the Blue Demons, however, is a death sentence to Marquette’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Just don’t lose to DePaul, guys. Don’t do it.

Greg Elliott Watch: The freshman from Detroit has the seventh most blocks by a freshman with 21, 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 22. 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 89 made threes, tied with Steve Novak for 2nd most all-time by a sophomore and eight behind Howard’s new sophomore record. He’s also tied with Novak’s junior year for the fifth most in any season. Hauser’s 172 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 101 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 253 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 Creighton from the free throw stripe, Rowsey now has the 8th most made free throws by a senior with 145, 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 22 more attempts from the stripe to get into the senior top 10 in that department. Rowsey now has the 10th most assists by a Marquette senior with 141, and needs just two more to tie Mark Anglavar for 9th and three more to tie Jim Boylan and Dominic James for 7th. He also needs just 33 points to score 1,000 in a Marquette uniform. If/when he gets there, he’ll be the 49th MU player to ever hit that mark, 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. Rowsey already has the eighth best senior scoring season in MU history with 596 points and he needs just 18 points to crack into the top 10 scoring seasons of all time at Marquette. He’s chasing Jae Crowder on both charts at 614, and Dean Meminger & Lazar Hayward are at 616.

Markus Howard Watch: It’s official: This is the best sophomore scoring season in Marquette history. With 25 points against Creighton, Howard is up to 606, and that has surpassed the one and only Dwyane Wade at 571. He is eight points away from Jae Crowder’s mark of 614 for the 10th best scoring season in MU history. Howard’s 97 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 244 three-point attempts is now the most by a Marquette sophomore, surpassing Novak’s record of 207. 244 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 253. His 208 made field goals are the third most by a MU sophomore, surpassing George Thompson (200) and coming up next on Dwyane Wade (223). Howard’s 449 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 3rd place on that list. Tom Flynn is up next at 457, and Dwyane Wade has the record at 458.

Oh, and one more thing: 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 1,016 right now, which means he has already passed Lloyd Walton, Jajuan Johnson, and Luke Fischer on the all time chart and moved into 45th place all-time. If he hits for his average of 20 points, he’ll pass Dwayne Johnson and Tony Miller and move into 43rd place.