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Marquette Women’s Basketball Preview: vs Providence & vs Creighton

The Golden Eagles start off their second trip through the Big East with the back half of a four game home stand.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 11 Butler at Providence Photo by Andrew Snook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I want to take a moment — and since we’re at the midway point of the Big East schedule, this is a perfect opportunity — to circle back to something I wrote about NCAA women’s basketball a little while back. I pointed out the wild differences between how the NCAA handles the tournament selection team sheets for men’s basketball and women’s basketball. Not the difference between NET and RPI, which the women’s game still uses, but merely the different between the Quadrant system for the men and the pure RPI cutoff system for the women.

Right now, Marquette women’s basketball has their columns on their team sheet with these records:

  • 0-3 vs RPI 1-25
  • 1-1 vs RPI 26-50
  • 5-1 vs RPI 51-100
  • 9-0 vs RPI 101+

If we take Marquette’s results and spin them through the “harder to win on the road than on a neutral site, and harder to win on a neutral site than at home” markers that the NCAA uses for the men’s Quadrant system, this is what we get:

  • 0-4 vs Quadrant 1
  • 3-1 vs Quadrant 2
  • 7-0 vs Quadrant 3
  • 5-0 vs Quadrant 4

I don’t know about you, but I think sliding four of those RPI 101+ games northwards into better columns/quadrants sure makes Marquette look a lot better.

To continue the idea, if we use the pure RPI cutoffs, Marquette has this remaining schedule for their final nine Big East games:

  • 1 vs RPI 1-25
  • 2 vs RPI 26-50
  • 3 vs RPI 51-100
  • 3 vs RPI 101+

But in the Quadrant measuring system....

  • 2 vs Quadrant 1
  • 3 vs Quadrant 2
  • 3 vs Quadrant 3
  • 1 vs Quadrant 4

Let’s be honest here: Marquette is playing a tougher schedule than their current team sheet setup is actually showing. Unfortunately, the NCAA is going to judge them on the current team sheet setup...... which is why ESPN’s Charlie Creme has the Golden Eagles as his third team out of the field of 64 right now after they were in last week.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone else’s team sheet might (and probably would) look wildly different if the NCAA got their act in gear and did the right thing for women’s hoops. I’m not trying to say that the Golden Eagles are getting hosed over individually by a crummy system. I’m saying that there’s a better way to do things, and so far, Marquette’s season is actually a perfect example of why it’s better.

Oh, and yeah: Marquette’s in a three-way tie for second place in the Big East at 6-3 right now after being picked to finish ninth. If my math is right, the Golden Eagles have a magic number of five to be guaranteed to finish no lower than seventh, and two wins this weekend at the Al McGuire Center would cut that two just three with seven games to play. Shouts to head coach Megan Duffy.

Big East Game #10: vs Providence Friars (10-11, 1-8 Big East)

Date: Friday, January 31, 2020
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, WI
Streaming: Big East Digital Network on the Big East’s YouTube channel
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 16-5 all time against Providence. After picking up their first Big East win of the year earlier this season in Rhode Island, the Golden Eagles have won five straight in this series and 10 of the last 11.

In our preview of the first tangle with the Friars this season, I spent a minute or seven talking about the idea that PC head coach Jim Crowley had changed the culture in Friartown. I laughed at it at the time, as I think the topic of “changing the culture” is largely ridiculous. Coaching a winning team isn’t about your “culture,” whatever that means, it’s about winning basketball games. I bring this up, because Providence fell to 0-4 in the league that weekend back in January, and now they’re 1-8 after the first pass in the league. Would anyone like to talk about how great the Providence culture is now? Anyone? Hit me up, email, Twitter, the comments section, whatever.

As it so happens, Providence comes into this game after snapping an eight game losing streak to open league play and a run where they had lost 10 of their previous 11 games. They trounced Xavier, 60-48, in Alumni Hall for their first league win of the season back on Sunday. Hooray for them. Unfortunately, they now have to undergo one of the roughest road trips of the season for the Friars, as going to 9-0 DePaul on Sunday will be a tough row to hoe no matter how Friday goes for them.

At 13.1 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game, Mary Baskerville remains Providence’s most productive player. The 6’3” sophomore dominates the ball when she’s on the floor, racking up a usage rate north of 34% according to HerHoopStats.com, and ripping down a fantastic number of defensive rebounds. The key words in that sentence, however, are “when she’s on the floor,” as Baskerville averages just 21.1 minutes per game for the season and 23.7 per game in Big East contests. She is incredibly foul prone, very nearly falling into the bottom 100 in the country in terms of foul rate per HHS. Baskerville was devastatingly effective against Marquette earlier this year, putting up 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds in just 26 minutes, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. She got six of those 24 in the final six minutes of the game as the Golden Eagles were just protecting their lead. Baskerville finished with just three fouls, so there are questions to be asked about why she was spending so much time on the bench if she was doing so well against Marquette’s quartet of post defenders.

One thing that MU did do very well in that game was prevent Providence from getting quality looks from behind the arc. The Friars are #20 in the country from three point land according to Her Hoop Stats, knocking in 36.8% of their shots. They went just 3-for-10 against Marquette, and PC’s three 40%+ shooters, Kaela Webb, Kyra Spiwak, and Sophia Widmeyer, were a collective 1-for-5. Providence doesn’t like to shoot threes as much as they should given their abilities, so as long as MU continues to deny them quality looks, things should probably go okay on Friday night.

Big East Game #11: vs Creighton Bluejays (13-7, 5-4 Big East)

Date: Sunday, February 2, 2020
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, WI
Streaming: Big East Digital Network on the Big East’s YouTube channel
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB

Marquette is 8-14 all time against Creighton. The Golden Eagles have won four of the last seven meetings, although the Bluejays have now won two in a row after beating MU in Omaha earlier this season.

The game plan against the Bluejays worked in Omaha until it didn’t. Creighton was 0-8 from behind the arc in the first half, and considering how well (32.7%, #97 in the country according to HerHoopStats.com) and how often (#11 in rate per HHS) that Jim Flanery has his team uncorking from downtown, that’s a heck of a defensive turnout by Megan Duffy and her team. Things went completely the other way after halftime, as the Jays went 6-for-13 from long range, and Marquette just could not keep up with the firepower. Still, the 72-62 game was tied at 56 with 3:30 to play, so even with that outburst, MU still had a crack at the road win.

Since knocking off Marquette in their own barn to move to 3-0 in the league, Creighton has gone just 2-4. The wins both came at home, and they both came against teams that are currently 1-8 and tied for last in conference action. That’s not ideal. Neither win was particularly emphatic either, as both were by single digits.

To make matters worse for the Bluejays, leading scorer Jaylyn Agnew has missed the last three games. Not only does she average 19.8 points per game — 23.2 in conference games — while shooting 35% from long range, she’s also leading the team in rebounding and assists, although that last one is by average and not total thanks to missing the last few. If she continues to not be available for Sunday afternoon, that’s a big boon to Marquette’s chances of victory. After all, Agnew carved Marquette for 27 points, nine rebounds, and three assists while playing all 40 minute back in Omaha.

One thing that Marquette did not have to contend with last time out was the presence of Tatum Rembao. The 5’9” guard from Colorado missed the first seven Big East games of the season for Creighton, but was back last weekend. She’s averaging 11.5 points per game, along with 4.4 rebounds and more than three assists, too, and shooting 43% from long range is pretty good too. She was quiet in their win over Xavier, but in the loss to Butler, she went for 23 points, four rebounds, and five assists. The good news is that while MU didn’t have to prepare for her last time around, the Golden Eagles have tape on her from the past two seasons, not to mention Vernette Skeete and Scott Merritt being familiar with scouting for her, too.