2019 BIG EAST MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS
#2 Marquette Golden Eagles (24-8, 12-6 Big East) vs #3 Seton Hall Pirates (19-12, 9-9 Big East)
Date: Friday, March 15, 2019
Time: 8pm Central
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Marquette Stats Leaders
Points: Markus Howard, 25.1 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 7.1 rpg
Assists: Markus Howard, 4.0 apg
Seton Hall Stats Leaders
Points: Myles Powell, 22.6 ppg
Rebounds: Sandro Mamukelashvili, 7.6 rpg
Assists: Quincy McKnight, 4.1 apg
NOTE: Those SHU averages are accurate as of the end of the regular season, since this is being started during their quarterfinal game.
Seton Hall: #55
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 65% chance of victory with a predicted score of 74-69.
The Regular Season Meetings: The two teams split the regular season meetings. Marquette led by 13 in the first half but had to grind out a 70-66 victory over the final three minutes after Seton Hall took a late lead. Things were headed towards a Marquette victory last Wednesday out in Newark as the Golden Eagles led 64-55 with under five minutes left and the Pirates hadn’t scored in over two minutes. And then Myles Powell happened, leading Seton Hall on an 18-0 run to close out the game and get the W, 73-64. It was not great, if you’re a Marquette fan, that is.
How Did We Get Here: As the #2 and #3 seeds respectively, both Marquette and Seton Hall bypassed the first round doubleheader on Wednesday night and started their Big East tournament run on Thursday in the quarterfinals. MU turned a 12 point halftime lead against St. John’s into an 86-54 romperstomper in the first game of the nighttime doubleheader. As I type this, the second half between Seton Hall and Georgetown is starting with SHU up 53-28 and Myles Powell apparently setting a Big East tournament record with 29 points in the first half. Sometimes you just accept the messages that the universe sends you and knock out your homework when you get the chance.
The Stakes: Well, things have ratcheted down a bit for Marquette after beating St. John’s on Thursday night. The four game losing streak is snapped, and the Golden Eagles have shaken off the bad mojo from the season sweep against the Red Storm. Seton Hall is pretty cleanly in the field of 68 even before Thursday night’s win over Georgetown, as Bracket Matrix had them as a #10 seed before that. Thus, the only things on the line are 1) deciding the season series with this rubber match and 2) deciding who advances to Saturday night’s Big East title game.
Tempo Free Fun: Against St. John’s last night, Marquette survived a bad turnover night (21% of possessions) because the Red Storm couldn’t shoot to save their season. 35.2% effective field goal percentage, 42% on two-pointers, 15% on three-pointers. This is notable, because Marquette struggled with turnovers in both Seton Hall games this season. At home, MU turned it over on 27% of possessions, but executed their third best Big East play defensive performance to get the win. In Newark, the ball went to the Pirates on 25% of MU’s possessions, but a 22-for-40 performance inside the arc carried Seton Hall to 102.3 points per 100 possessions and easily outpacing Marquette by the end of the game.
Marquette didn’t turn the ball over all that much in the regular season finale against Georgetown, but that’s more of a function of GU’s defense not forcing turnovers than anything else. The Golden Eagles still have a turnover problem as evidenced by Thursday night in The Garden, and we already know that Seton Hall is capable of capitalizing on said problem. Not only do we have 80 minutes of proof, but SHU ranks #84 in the country in turnover rate per KenPom. This is clearly something that the Golden Eagles are going to have to contend with if they want to make their first ever appearance in the Big East title game. It doesn’t help that the two Pirates most likely to defend Markus Howard, Myles Powell and Quincy McKnight, are both in the top 125 in the country in terms of steal rate per KenPom. That’s a recipe for problems, and look no further than McKnight’s three steals last week and Howard’s five turnovers.
Speaking of Powell, it’s very clear that Marquette is going to be hard pressed to deal with him. He had 34 points on 11-for-25 shooting last time around and added five rebounds and five assists. He essentially won the game for the Pirates, scoring 10 straight points in the 18-0 run, personally turning it from 64-57 favoring Marquette to 67-54 favoring Seton Hall. When Powell gets on a heater like that, even just for two game minutes, he can be incredibly dangerous. This isn’t news of course. We saw it again on Thursday night in the first half against the Hoyas. The dude will straight up rip your throat out if you leave it sticking out too far.
This isn’t rocket science, but Marquette needs to get and keep the ball away from Powell. He’s shooting 35% from behind the arc on the season for a team that ranks #267 in the country in that department and ninth in Big East play in three-point accuracy. They connected on just 32% of their long range shots in the 18 game conference schedule, which is, y’know, bad. Myles Cale knocks down 40% of his shots, but other than that, literally any other Pirate that wants to fire from behind the arc should be allowed to do so until they hit two in the game. Seton Hall knows they’re bad at three-pointers, ranking #239 in the country in their shot ratio, so it’s going to take some doing to convince them to let it fly. Marquette will need big performances from Theo John and Ed Morrow in order to deter the Pirates from coming inside. Those two guys combined for 17 points and 12 rebounds against St. John’s in a total of 37 minutes played, and a repeat performance of that would be more than welcome.
Marquette Last 10 Games: 5-5, with the quarterfinal win over St. John’s snapping a four game losing streak.
Seton Hall Last 10 Games: 6-4, with wins in their last three games.
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 19-8.
Current Streak: Seton Hall’s win at The Rock in the final week of the regular season snapped a three game winning streak in the series for the Golden Eagles. MU now has only won four of the last six.
Follow Along On Twitter
@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that’s us!
@MarquetteMBB - Official MU account
@SetonHallMBB - Official SHU account
@becb_sbn - our SB Nation friends that follow the whole Big East
@BenSteeleMJS - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel MU beat writer