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#21 Marquette Basketball Preview Primer: vs Seton Hall Pirates

The Golden Eagles return home after stealing a road win against Creighton.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Seton Hall vs Butler Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

#21 Marquette Golden Eagles (13-3, 2-1 Big East) vs Seton Hall Pirates (12-4, 3-1 Big East)

Date: Saturday, January 12, 2019
Time: 1pm Central
Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI

Marquette Stats Leaders

Points: Markus Howard, 25.8 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 7.0 rpg
Assists: Markus Howard, 4.3 apg

Seton Hall Stats Leaders

Points: Myles Powell, 22.8 ppg
Rebounds: Sandro Mamukelashvili, 7.4 rpg
Assists: Quincy McKnight, 3.3 apg

Current KenPom Rankings

Marquette: #33
Seton Hall: #47
KenPom.com Projection: KenPom gives Marquette a 71% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 78-72.

Tempo Free Fun: Well, before we talk about anything else in regards to the Pirates, let’s just jump feet first into the Myles Powell issue, shall we?

Myles Powell is, by several orders of magnitude, the most important player on the Seton Hall roster from a Marquette defensive scheme perspective. At 22.8 points per game, he is their leading scorer. He’s also their only player averaging over 10 points a game. Quite simply, stop Powell, stop Seton Hall.

Except it’s not that easy.

Obviously, everyone knows that Powell’s the guy to stop. Out of Seton Hall’s 16 games this season, Powell has scored at least 20 points nine times. He’s scored at least 25 seven times. He’s scored at least 30 three times. In Seton Hall’s four Big East games thus far, he’s averaging 21.8 points per game. It’s pretty safe to say that this was SHU’s toughest four game stretch of the season, with every team having more than enough notice of exactly what he’s capable of, and Powell’s still out there, doing what needs to be done.

He’s prone to shoot threes more than twos, with nearly 30 more shots outside the arc than inside. However, if you let him get inside, he’s deadly. Powell is shooting 60.4% on twos this season, good enough for #240 in the country, and remember: He’s only 6’2”. He’s a 36% three-point shooter this season and for his career at Seton Hall as well, so he’s been pretty consistent throughout. However, he is only shooting 29.6% in league play so far, so that’s something that might work to Marquette’s advantage.

He does pretty much everything else right, too. He’s not a super great rebounder, but hey: He’s a 6’2” guard, what did you want? He takes care of the ball well, especially for someone with his usage rate, he’s adept at coming up with steals but doesn’t commit fouls, and he’s even better at drawing fouls than he is at not committing them.

Onwards then, to discussing the team in general.

I believe that at some point between the end of January 2nd and the beginning of January 6, we as a collective Big East fanbase, started to consider Seton Hall as a challenger for the regular season title. Sure, they had struggled early in the season, getting clonked on the road by Nebraska and losing a squeaker at home to Saint Louis. Their home loss to Louisville wasn’t doing them any favors, either, but then they ripped off seven straight wins, including against Kentucky in overtime at Madison Square Garden, hosting in-state rival Rutgers, and on the road against Maryland. They ended up on the right side of a refereeing error to start Big East play, and followed that up with a road win against Xavier. 11-3 overall, 2-0 in the league, clearly on the path to something good and positive this season. All in all, something worth keeping an eye on, especially after head coach Kevin Willard lost so much talent and ability in last year’s senior class.

And then.... they lost to DePaul.

Look, don’t get me wrong here. DePaul might be better than they’ve been in a long while, and yes, this game was at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. But... if you’re Seton Hall, and you’re trying to prove to everyone that you can make noise in this league after losing Angel Delgado And Friends from last year, you can’t fall behind 30-15 to DePaul. Even worse, Seton Hall had chances to win that game. DePaul didn’t score for the final two-plus minutes.

Anywho, Seton Hall responded by fending off a Butler team that was looking to build off of shelling Creighton in Hinkle Fieldhouse, so the good news for Marquette is the Pirates got the “dammit, we lost to DePaul” energy out of their system.

While Powell is a nasty long range threat, Seton Hall as a team is not. They rank #258 in the country in three-point shooting percentage, and largely because of that, they’re just #163 on KenPom.com in effective field goal percentage. Myles Cale shoots it a little bit, and he’s just below the passable mark at 31.5% on the year, as does Sandro Mamukelashvili, who’s even closer to passable at 32.5%. Quincy McKnight, a transfer from Sacred Heart Pioneers, has been hitting shots this year at a 34.5% clip, but given his low attempt total, I suspect that he’s well aware that he never shot over 32% before transferring.

While they’re not very good shooters, Seton Hall still ranks #50 in offensive efficiency on KenPom because they do not turn the ball over. It gets a lot easier to have a high point per possession average when you end a possession with a shot better than most any other team in the country, and that’s what Seton Hall’s deal is with the #26 turnover rate.

If you want an X-Factor for this game, watch out for Theo John. He’s currently holding on to the #22 individual block rate in the country and Seton Hall is in the bottom 70 in the country at getting blocked. As long as defending Mamukelashvili doesn’t put him into foul jail, John could end up turning Fiserv Forum into a block party.

There’s nothing particularly outstanding about Seton Hall’s defense. There’s nothing that they’re bad at, but also nothing that they’re good at. KenPom uses a bright green tint for “very good” and a deep red tint for “very bad.” All of SHU’s defensive Four Factors have a faint greenish tinge, which roughly translates to somewhere between “fine” and “fine, I guess.” Even though they don’t excel at any one particular aspect on defense, they’re still a top 70 defense, so that’s pretty good and should be enough to keep Marquette on their toes.

Kevin Willard uses eight guys in the rotation every time out, and that gets extended to 10 more often than not. Based on the dropoff in average minutes played from Powell downwards, I’d wager that Willard leans his lineup every night towards “Powell and whatever four other guys are really working well with Powell against these guys.” In any case, they make use of their roster pretty well, more so than Marquette does on most nights, it seems. Is that something that could cause problems for the Golden Eagles, or will Steve Wojciechowski get some pop from deeper bench contributors like Jamal Cain and Brendan Bailey thanks to the home crowd fueling them along?

Marquette Last 10 Games: 9-1, including wins in the last two games.

Seton Hall Last 10 Games: 8-2 after bouncing back from a road loss to DePaul with a home win over Butler.

All Time Series: Marquette leads, 18-7

Current Streak: Marquette swept the season series last year for a two game winning streak in the series, and the Golden Eagles have won three of the last four.

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