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#16 Marquette Basketball Preview Primer: at Seton Hall Pirates

The Golden Eagles are looking to bounce back from their first back-to-back losses of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Seton Hall Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

#16 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-6, 12-4 Big East) at Seton Hall Pirates (16-12, 7-9 Big East)

Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Time: 5:30pm Central
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

Marquette Stats Leaders

Points: Markus Howard, 25.5 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 7.0 rpg
Assists: Markus Howard, 4.0 apg

Seton Hall Stats Leaders

Points: Myles Powell, 22.3 ppg
Rebounds: Sandro Mamukelashvili, 7.5 rpg
Assists: Quincy McKnight, 4.0 apg Rankings

Marquette: #28
Seton Hall: #62
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 57% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 73-71.

The Stakes: Marquette needs to win both of their final two games in order to clinch at least a share of the Big East regular season title. According to Bracket Matrix as of March 4th, Seton Hall is currently sitting outside the field of 68, appearing on just 62 of the 110 brackets compiled.

Last Time Out: Marquette picked up a 70-66 victory at Fiserv Forum on January 12th. Markus Howard led all scorers with 26 points, adding six rebounds and six assists to his day. The Pirates got 21 points from Myles Powell on 8-of-19 shooting. MU led by 13 in the first half, but Seton Hall evened it out at 44 and eventually led 63-62 with less than three minutes to play. As you can tell, Marquette needed to grind this victory out over the final few minutes, but they kept making the right play over and over to do it.

Since Last We Met: After losing to Marquette, Seton Hall was sitting at 3-2 in Big East play and 12-5 overall. Looking pretty good, generally speaking. However, the loss to Marquette was the first of four straight for the Pirates, and the first of five losses in six games as well. They bounced back from that with a season sweep of Creighton sandwiched around a home win over Georgetown, but they’ve now lost their last three. This has them teetering out of the NCAA tournament picture and in danger of snapping a three year tourney streak, their longest since going to four straight from 1991-1994.

Tempo Free Fun: Alright, well, let’s start with the bad news. Marquette lost their last two games because they turned the ball over way way way way way too much. Across the span of 134 possessions, the Golden Eagles committed 40 total turnovers. 29.9% of their offensive possession across two full games ended with the ball going the other way. That is terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad. Based on the shooting numbers alone, Marquette should have buried both squads into the earth. Before the last two games, Marquette had not lost this season while assembling an effective field goal percentage above 54%, and had lost just once while shooting better than 49%.

Last Wednesday against Villanova and Sunday against Creighton were two of Marquette’s five least efficient games on offense of the season, according to Marquette won two of the other three games. The loss was the league opener against St. John’s. One of the wins was the home game against Xavier, where the Golden Eagles still managed to shoot an eFG% of 50.8%.

The other win?

You guessed it.

At home against Seton Hall.

Before Sunday’s.... whatever that was against Creighton, the home game against Seton Hall had been Marquette’s least efficient game of the season on offense, tallying just 94.8 points per 100 possessions. The shooting did not help things at all, as MU went 6-for-23 (26.1%) from long range. This was largely due to a combined 1-for-10 performance from the Hauser brothers.

You’re sensing an “and” in here, aren’t you? You should be.

Marquette turned the ball over on 27% of possessions against Seton Hall on January 12th. Markus Howard had five, Jamal Cain had three, and Joseph Chartouny had four. If you were thinking that Marquette was just going to flip a switch and fix their turnover problem from the previous 80 minutes of basketball, there is evidence to suggest that the Pirates are going to end up stealing that switch.

Here’s the good news. Marquette did a number on the Pirates on defense. That game is Marquette’s third best defensive performance in league play in terms of points per possession allowed, and second best in terms of defensive turnover rate. They flummoxed the Pirates into a 32% shooting performance behind the arc, and if anyone thinks that Sandro Mamukelashvili (31% in Big East games and 21% against KenPom top 50 opponents) is going to go 2-for-3 again to help prop that up, well, you’re welcome to that opinion.

I’m not going to try and tell you that the defensive gameplan against Seton Hall last time was foolproof, as Myles Powell’s 8-for-19 landed him with an eFG% of 50%. Not great, but still fine for a star player like Powell. If Marquette can recreate a 4-for-11 performance from Mamukelashvili and 6-for-15 from Quincy McKnight, they’ll probably be in business, generally speaking.

As crazy as it sounds, convincing Seton Hall to shoot three-pointers might be Marquette’s best path to victory. They’re not very good at it, ranking #283 in the country, and they’ve been worse in Big East games than they have overall at just 31.5%. They’re relatively reticent to let it fly, with just 36% of their attempts coming from behind the arc, which is ranked #247 in the country per KenPom. Obviously Kevin Willard knows they’re not great at it, and he’s obviously convincing them to not shoot those. They were extremely convinced of it against Marquette with less than 30% of their shots coming behind the arc. That’s pretty wild when you consider that Theo John played 30 minutes in that game and recorded a 10 point, 11 rebound double-double and had three blocks. I don’t know why you’d test MU’s big man in that situation, but they did, and they ended up with a loss. Will something change as a result of John’s performance? Can that lead to Marquette getting the Pirates to launch more threes? Can John stay in this game long enough to make another big impact on the interior?

Those questions and more will need to be answered on Wednesday night at The Rock. Fingers crossed.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 7-3, with losses in the last two games.

Seton Hall Last 10 Games: 4-6, with losses in their last three games.

All Time Series: Marquette leads, 19-7

Current Streak: Marquette has now won three straight against the Pirates, and four of the last five.

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
@cf_gardner - The Athletic MU beat writer