#16 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-7, 12-5 Big East) vs Georgetown Hoyas (18-12, 8-9 Big East)
Date: Saturday, March 9, 2019
Time: 1:30pm Central
Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Marquette Stats Leaders
Points: Markus Howard, 24.9 ppg
Rebounds: Sam Hauser, 7.1 rpg
Assists: Markus Howard, 4.0 apg
Georgetown Stats Leaders
Points: Jessie Govan, 17.9 ppg
Rebounds: Jessie Govan, 7.7 rpg
Assists: James Akinjo, 5.4 apg
KenPom Projection: Marquette has an 84% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 82-71.
The Stakes: Well, technically, Marquette is still alive for a share of the Big East title as of this writing, but that will require Villanova to lose their regular season finale on the road against Seton Hall. It also requires Marquette to win this game against the Hoyas.
Last Time Out: Markus Howard played three minutes and Sam Hauser dumped 31 points and eight rebounds on the Hoyas as Marquette won, 74-71, in Washington, D.C. This game is particularly notable as the current season high in minutes for Brendan Bailey at 27. With Howard out, Bailey ended up with nine points, two rebounds, a steal, and FOUR BLOCKS. That’s wild.
Since Last We Met: Georgetown has kind of been all over the place. They have gone 6-6 in the intervening 12 games, and they did so by never winning or losing more than two in a row. They have also never gotten over .500 after losing to MU dropped them to 2-3. They got to .500 at 4-4, 5-5, and 8-8. They’ve been hovering around the very back end of the NCAA tournament bubble, but their loss on Wednesday to DePaul may have ended that. Not only did they lose, but they lost badly, 101-69.
Tempo Free Fun: As you might expect from a 74-71 game, the season’s first Marquette/Georgetown game was pretty even when you dig into the stats. Marquette outshot the Hoyas, but only by a little bit. The Golden Eagles had a significant advantage inside the three-point arc, but Georgetown knocked down 56% of their three-pointers against “just” 35% for Marquette. Turnovers were tilted slightly in favor of Marquette, with the Golden Eagles only coughing it up on 17% of possessions, while forcing Georgetown to give it away 20% of the time. The Hoyas held a minor advantage in terms of offensive rebounding rate, but both teams were held below their season average.
It’s hard to take anything particularly important away from the box score of the last game given how close the two teams were in most regards. Heading into Saturday’s game, Marquette has two advantages. First, Markus Howard will presumably be available for the full 40 minutes. Stirring a 25 point per game scorer back into the mix is probably a good thing. Second, Ed Morrow should also be available. He missed the first encounter with an ankle injury, and thus adding his depth to this game is also probably a good thing.
With Morrow available, that automatically points us in the direction of thinking about Theo John and his contributions against Georgetown, specifically in regards to Jessie Govan. John was pretty great, playing 30 minutes and posting 14 points and six rebounds. He finished with four fouls, but at 30 minutes, that’s a win. Govan had what amounts to a bad game for him, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds. Generally speaking, if Theo John is going to be able to statistically cancel out Jessie Govan, things are going in MU’s direction. The question is probably whether John is better off knowing that he doesn’t have Morrow behind him in the rotation and thus takes it 10% easier to make sure he stays in the game. Will John take more chances against Govan and Josh LeBlanc with Morrow ready to come in to replace him if he gets into foul trouble? Is that bad for Marquette in general?
We should probably address Georgetown’s three-point shooting. Mac McClung went 4-for-6 and Govan went 3-for-4. One of those is likely to happen again, one is not. Govan is a 41% shooter this season, and saves his best performances for top 100 opponents, as his shooting percentage cranks up to 44% there. McClung is a different story. He’s shooting just 28% on the year, and just 31% in Big East play. However, he has a way of making an impact in Georgetown’s biggest games. He went 4-for-10 from long range in GU’s road win over St. John’s on January 27th, and he was 4-for-8 in their home win over Villanova on February 20th. However, since that performance against the Wildcats, McClung is just 4-for-20, and that’s actually worse than his season average. Can he do it again against Marquette? It seems unlikely, but it’s not totally impossible, I suppose.
Okay, I’ve run away from it for long enough. Let’s talk about the turnovers, shall we? In their last three games, Marquette has turned the ball over on at least 25% of their possessions in each game. Dial it back to just 21%, and the streak is now five games long. High quality shooting and offensive rebounding saved the Golden Eagles against Providence and Butler. The rebounding disappeared against Villanova and Creighton, while the shooting went away against Seton Hall. The good news is that Georgetown is borderline atrocious when it comes to forcing turnovers on defense. They provoke a giveaway on just 16.4% of possessions, which is #304 in the country per KenPom.com. In only their 17 Big East games, that number drops to 15.2%. Technically speaking, by getting Marquette to 17.1% last time out, that was a good performance for the Hoya defense.
So. It’s unlikely that Marquette will be pushed into struggling with the ball by Georgetown. Obviously, GU head coach Patrick Ewing isn’t a blind moron, so he’s going to try to glean something from the past three games that would work for his team, so the chances are there. It’s just not a strength of the Hoya defense through 30 games. Thus, we have to ask: How far inside their own heads are the Marquette players? How much of the turnover problem is now a mental issue? Are they now so worried about coughing it up that it’s making them hesitant and thus creating more problems? Can Marquette staple their confidence back together to close out the regular season and Fiserv Forum’s first campaign with a win?
Marquette Last 10 Games: 6-4, thanks to a nearly inexplicable three game losing streak.
Georgetown Last 10 Games: 5-5, as you’d expect for a team that’s 6-6 in their last 12.
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 14-12.
Current Streak: Marquette has now won three straight against Georgetown and five of the last six.
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