Well, let’s just start with this, since it just came across the Twitter machine as I was starting to write about this weekend’s games.
The wonderful people at HerHoopStats.com put together a bracketology heading into the weekend of women’s collegiate basketball..... and.... welll...... they’ve got YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles as a #2 seed in the 2019 NCAA tournament. As in one of the eight best teams in the field. In fact, they have them at #7, one spot below the Notre Dame team that beat MU at the McGuire Center, two spots below Connecticut, and three below the Mississippi State team that MU nearly beat down in StarkVegas.
How’s that for fancy as hell?
Now, obviously, there’s a lot of basketball left to be played, as Marquette still has eight conference contests left to go. Things can shift a bit. The odds are generally against Marquette running the table...... but, y’know, it’s also not impossible. You’d have to imagine if they finish the Big East slate at 18-0, that would pretty much lock up that #2 seed. To be honest, I’d just be thrilled with having a #4 seed, because that means games at the McGuire Center. Of course, I’d happily take a #2 seed, because that means (theoretically) even easier games for the Golden Eagles to win and advance to their first ever Sweet 16.
Speaking of Marquette’s record in the Big East, they are currently 10-0 after opening up the second trip through the conference with a wild road win over DePaul last weekend. After all of the results of last week, Marquette’s magic number to claim a second straight Big East regular season title is four, and the number to get to an outright title and the #1 seed in the Big East tournament is five. It can’t be overstated at this point that MU has eight games remaining. Things are slightly complicated when it comes to this magic numbering, as both Butler and DePaul have four losses in league play at the moment. The Golden Eagles are going to have to contend with both of them, but remember that MU has already swept the season series against DePaul and thus holds the tiebreaker for the #1 seed if it comes to that.
Friday’s game is a bit more exciting than just your average Marquette game. First, there’s the National Marquette Day Pep Rally that’s been moved from the parking lot over by Schroeder Hall into the McGuire Center thanks to the oncoming single digit temperatures. Second, there’s the fact that it’s going to be broadcast on FS1, and it’s always fun when the squad gets on national TV. Third, it’s going to be an All-Access game, where Carolyn Kieger and Georgetown’s James Howard are both going to be mic’d up for the entire game, and the FS1 crew can just toss the audio over to whatever the coaches are saying at any point in the game. For those of you who will have to watch on TV, that will be a bit of fun, although I’ll miss out because I’ll be in the building.
Big East Game #11: vs Georgetown Hoyas (11-11, 5-6 Big East)
Marquette is 16-4 all time against Georgetown. After winning earlier this season in D.C., Marquette has won five of the last six and seven of the last nine. The Golden Eagles have lost at home to the Hoyas just once, a 67-39 disaster back in January 2012.
Since the last time these two teams met, the Hoyas have gone 3-2, with both losses coming on a road trip to the New York City area. All three wins have come in the friendly confines of McDonough Arena, including their games against Creighton and Providence last weekend to give them two straight wins coming into Friday night. That has them at 5-6 in Big East play, and generally speaking right on track to do what they did last year when they went 9-9 in the league.
In the first meeting between Georgetown and Marquette this season, the Hoyas opened up a 23-9 lead in the second quarter before Marquette ended up with the 72-62 victory. While that sounds like Marquette took over the game across the final 25 minutes or so, that’s not really the case. It was still a one possession game when Lauren Van Kleunen split a pair of freebies with 3:06 to play and MU up only three, 63-60. The Golden Eagles salted that game away as the Hoyas decided to crank up the three-point shooting even though that hadn’t been working for them all game.
Georgetown has given Marquette fits in their last three meetings, and there’s really no reason to think that won’t be the case here. Even with Marquette blasting back from a big deficit in the first meeting this season, the Golden Eagles didn’t manage to get to a point per possession in the game and they finished with an effective field goal percentage of just 41%. This makes all the sense in the world, as HerHoopStats.com says that Georgetown is the #33 eFG% defense in the country. That’s probably going to carry over to this game again, and odds are that Marquette won’t get a chance to shoot 29-for-36 from the free throw line again, and they almost assuredly won’t get to shoot 20 free throws in the fourth quarter alone.
Dorothy Adomako is the name to watch out for here. She had a game high 21 points against Marquette in the first meeting and shot 7-for-13 from the field before fouling out in 29 minutes of action. To some extent, her foul problems are what allowed Marquette to end up with the win, as you’d have to think GU would have had a better chance if she had played more.... and it was her fifth foul that led to the split pair by Van Kleunen with 3:06 to play. Dionna White and Mikayla Venson were defended well by Marquette in the first meeting, combining to shoot just 8-for-28. Adomako, White, and Venson — in that descending order — are Georgetown’s three double digit scorers, so if the Golden Eagles can stop two out of three again, that ain’t bad.
Big East Game #12: vs Villanova Wildcats (15-7, 6-5 Big East)
Marquette is 13-9 all time against Villanova, including picking up the win in each of the last five encounters. That flipped the all-time series back towards MU after the Wildcats had taken control after four straight W’s and victories in six of seven meetings.
Since the first meeting this season between these teams, the Wildcats have gone 5-2 and head to play DePaul on Friday night riding a four game winning streak. That’s moved them into a tie with Seton Hall for fourth place in the conference at the moment, but when you consider that they lost to Marquette and DePaul at home the first time around this season, this road trip isn’t looking particularly bright for them.
Marquette took the 91-55 victory at The Finn earlier this season by cracking open a 21-0 run to open the second quarter and pretty much end the competitive portion of the day. There’s not really much to take away from that game given the one-sidedness of the entire endeavor. I guess if you wanted to make a note of something, it’s that Mary Gedaka did shoot 7-for-11 from the field to end up leading VU in points with 14. It wasn’t even that Nova was booting the ball around the gym and giving Marquette extra chances. The Wildcats had just nine turnovers in the entire game. The Golden Eagles just went straight through them like a hot knife through butter.
The wildest part about this is that MU didn’t even accelerate Villanova into a high possession game to make them uncomfortable. It was a 67 possession game, and the Wildcats average 63.4 per game, the fourth slowest rate in the country. For the most part, Marquette just straight up beat them at their own game, and did it in resounding fashion.
If MU can play that kind of defense again, they’re going to come out ahead pretty easily. VU shot just 40% from the field and 17% from behind the arc. HerHoopStats.com says that Villanova is the #26 two-point shooting offense in the country and the #80 three-point shooting team. The performance against Marquette was wildly out of the ordinary for them, and it’s going to take some doing to try to recreate it. For starters, Kelly Jekot and Adrianna Hahn are both 40% three-point shooters on the season and average over 5.7 attempts per game each. Against Marquette in The Finn, they combined to shoot just eight triples and made only three. That’s only 38% on a third fewer attempts than they normally let fly, so driving those two off the line has to be goal #1 for Carolyn Kieger’s squad.