#10 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-5, 12-3 Big East) vs Creighton Bluejays (15-13, 6-9 Big East)
Date: Sunday, March 3, 2019
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Marquette Stats Leaders
Points: Markus Howard, 25.3 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 6.9 rpg
Assists: Markus Howard, 4.0 apg
Creighton Stats Leaders
Points: Ty-Shon Alexander, 16.4 ppg
Rebounds: Martin Krampelj, 6.8 rpg
Assists: Mitch Ballock, 3.5 apg
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 77% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 79-71.
The Stakes: Marquette needs to win two of their remaining three games in order to clinch at least a share of the Big East regular season title. This is game #1 of those three remaining games.
Last Time Out: Marquette won, 106-104, in overtime. There is nothing else interesting or noteworthy to discuss about this contest.
Okay, okay, okay. You got me.
Markus Howard scored a Big East single game record 54 points in the victory. That’s all.
Okay, okay, okay.
It has been nearly two months since this game transpired, and it is still the most unlikely comeback of the entire season across the entire country according to the KenPom.com Minimum Win Probability rankings. With time damn near expired, Marquette found themselves with a win probability of 0.1%. Zero. Point. One. Percent. I can’t be 100% sure here, but I presume that was actually following Joseph Chartouny’s lay-in with 0.8 seconds left to play. Jays ball, literally all they have to do to win after leading by five points with the clock reading 1.0 seconds remaining, is bounce it off literally any player on the court and hope it doesn’t go out of bounds before 0.8 seconds expires.............
And they did not do that.
The pass went long for some reason, no one touched it, Marquette inbounded under their own hoop in accordance with the rules of basketball, and Sam Hauser absolutely 100% no question got off a three-pointer in time to knot it up at 85 each and send it to overtime.
Upon further reflection, it is the most Marquette/Creighton thing ever that the two teams combined for 40 points in five minutes of overtime. 14 points of that was scored by Howard, which means, yes, he “only” had 39 points at the end of regulation.
Since We Last Met: The loss to Marquette dropped Creighton to 1-2 in Big East play and 10-6 on the year. They’ve gone 5-7 in the intervening 12 games and have never gotten back to .500 in league games. They were on a four game losing streak two weeks ago, including road overtime defeats against Villanova and Xavier, and that landed them at .500 on the season. However, a road win over DePaul and a home victory against Georgetown in their last two contests has them at 15-13 on the year, but quite obviously nowhere near the NCAA tournament.
Tempo Free Fun: Well, let’s be honest about what the first meeting between these two teams was: An offensive free for all. By the end of overtime, both teams had an effective field goal percentage over 63% and both teams scored at least 1.30 points per possession. It’s completely bonkers, to be quite honest.
We also can’t ignore the fact that Marquette absolutely stole a victory from the Bluejays. I don’t just mean that Marquette absolutely mathematically needed one and only one thing to happen on that final CU inbounds in regulation and it actually happened. I mean the fact that Creighton was up as many as 13 in the first half. They were probably lucky to have it at six points at halftime, and the lead was up at 10 again with 9:06 left to go. Once Ty-Shon Alexander opened the scoring to the game on Creighton’s first possession, Marquette was never so much as tied with the Jays until Hauser’s buzzer beater went through the net. Howard had 11 of his 14 in the extra session on MU’s first four possessions in overtime to stake the Golden Eagles to a six point lead in a game where they were never even tied with points on the board and the clock running in regulation. Should they have won? Almost definitely not. Did they win? Yuuuup.
The point of all of this is to try and figure out what any of it means in terms of Sunday’s game, and, well, given the hot shooting, I don’t know if we can take any of it seriously. It was Marquette’s best eFG% performance of the year on offense, and second worst on defense. For Creighton, it was only their eighth best performance on offense against Division 1 foes, but it was their best in a loss by a wide margin. Unsurprisingly, allowing a team to shoot nearly 70% eFG% against them is their worst defensive performance of the season, and that’s saying a lot.
Creighton has allowed 60%+ in effective field goal percentage six times this season, and they’ve only won one of those games: at home against Montana on November 28th. They’ve lost in seven of their eight worst defensive performances. Basically, if you’re in the Big East and can get your eFG% up over 59%, you can beat Creighton. This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. Overall, CU ranks #294 in the country in effective field goal percentage defense, and yet somehow, DePaul is still worse than them when you only look at league games.
I want to say that this is a game where Marquette’s offense ends up overpowering the Creighton defense, while the Marquette defense does enough to win. That’s what all of the season long stats and even just the in-league stats tell us. But I keep looking at 40 minutes of regulation in Omaha that had 39 points from Markus Howard.... and it just did not matter a lick. MU needed luck and a prayer to beat them in their building. Maybe that shouldn’t be and won’t be the case when you flip the arena advantage to the other side. Maybe MU head coach Steve Wojciechowski gets his team ready to run through a brick wall in order to bounce back from that ugly looking and yet still very narrow loss to Villanova earlier this week. Maybe Wojo has them ready to go out and grab that Big East title, or at least put one hand on it.
What are we going to get at Fiserv Forum on Sunday afternoon? I honestly have no idea.
But if I were you, I’d bet the over.
Marquette Last 10 Games: 8-2 after snapping a four game winning streak with Wednesday’s loss at Villanova.
Creighton Last 10 Games: 5-5, with wins in their last two games.
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 55-32
Current Streak: Marquette has won the last six meetings.
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