Marquette Golden Eagles (17-9, 7-7 Big East) vs Georgetown Hoyas (15-12, 5-9 Big East)
Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Time: 7:30pm Central
Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
Marquette Stats Leaders
Points: Markus Howard, 27.1 ppg
Rebounds: Koby McEwen & Brendan Bailey, 5.3 rpg
Assists: Koby McEwen, 3.4 apg
Georgetown Stats Leaders
Points: Omer Yurtseven, 15.8 ppg
Rebounds: Omer Yurtseven, 10.0 rpg
Assists: Terrell Allen, 4.1 apg
KenPom Projection: Marquette has a 74% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 80-73.
Last Time Out: Markus Howard torched Georgetown for 42 points while connecting on six of his 14 long range attempts, but it was Koby McEwen making the big plays in the final seconds to lock in MU’s 84-80 victory over the Hoyas. It was a wild game that Marquette had a certain amount of control of at the half, but both teams traded leads the entire second half.
Since Last We Met: The Hoyas have gone just 3-5 since then, but that’s more about being a victim of circumstance than anything else. Mac McClung went for 24 points, six rebounds, and three assists in that loss to Marquette.... but has played just eight minutes in Georgetown’s last six games. All eight of those came in the same game, a 73-63 home loss to Providence, and then McClung missed Saturday’s road loss to DePaul. Omer Yurtseven has missed two of Georgetown’s last three games, and while he played against DePaul on Saturday, he didn’t have the easiest time with an ankle injury, leaving briefly in the first half. He did return and play 14 minutes in the second half, though. Yurtseven had 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists against the Golden Eagles, including going 2-for-3 from behind the three-point line. For the record: He’s only 3-for-14 on the season, and those are his only two made triples during Big East play.
The Stakes: Well, let’s not mince words, okay? Marquette is on a three game losing streak, capped by a very ugly and not fun at all loss at Providence on Saturday. As long as nothing stupid happens for the rest of the season, the Golden Eagles are on track to make the NCAA tournament easily, slotting in as a #7 seed on BracketMatrix.com at the moment. For the record, yes, losing to Georgetown at this particular moment in time at home would count as “something stupid.” Meanwhile, the Hoyas are somewhat inexplicably holding on to a faint hope of making the NCAA tournament this season. As of the update sitting on BracketMatrix.com on Tuesday night, Georgetown is one of the “First Four Out” teams, even after being just the second Big East team to lose to DePaul this season. Quite obviously, a win over the Golden Eagles would do them a world of good in terms of trying to surpass the North Carolina States and USCs of the world and end up on the positive side of the cutline by the time Selection Sunday rolls around.
Tempo Free Fun: Okay, so look. I’m glad I’m not Steve Wojciechowski or his assistants, because preparing for this game feels like an exercise in futility. We honestly have no idea if McClung or Yurtseven are going to be able to play, and that may wildly change how the Golden Eagles approach the Hoyas. If you count McClung’s eight minute performance against Providence as “did not play,” then in the two games where McClung and Yurtseven were not in the lineup for Georgetown, Patrick Ewing essentially just left his starters out there the entire game. 6’11” Timothy Ighoefe, who had played 14 total minutes up to this point this season, played 12 minutes against Butler and 19 minutes against Providence, while George Muresan tallied three minutes and one minute respectively in those contests. That’s it.
Unsurprisingly, Georgetown played a season low 58 possessions against Butler.... and won, while Providence accelerated them up to 66 possessions and handed the Hoyas a 10 point loss. If a team really only has five players that the coach trusts for long term minutes, then yes, you absolutely try to run them out of the building.
But Yurtseven did play on Saturday, and so we have to figure that he’ll be available for Georgetown on Wednesday night. I’m much more doubtful of McClung, because “miss four games, play eight minutes, miss another game” does not sound like a high quality recipe to be able to play a college basketball game four days later. If it’s just McClung missing from the lineup, then trying to run the Hoyas out out of the building does sound like an awfully good idea there as well. The downside to this plan does seem to be that Georgetown generally wants to play at a faster tempo, ranking #92 in the country in that department per KenPom.com. They’re comfortable doing that, but if they’ve only got six guys who can play, they still might not want to do that.
I would like to believe that Marquette can ruin Georgetown’s day when the Golden Eagles have the ball. KenPom says that the Hoyas have the second worst defensive efficiency in the Big East thus far this season, and most of that is because Georgetown just can not defend shooters of any variety at all in the slightest. Opponents shoot over 35% from long range against them, which ranks #283 in the country per KenPom, and that cranks up over 36% in Big East action. Marquette has KenPom’s second most efficient offense in the league, which makes the Golden Eagles an absolute nightmare for a healthy Hoyas squad to defend. Marquette’s offensive performance earlier this year in Washington was MU’s second most efficient game of the season, surpassed only by Central Arkansas. The Golden Eagles finished with an effective field goal percentage north of 54% and turned the ball over on less than 10% of possessions as well. If they can recreate that in the confines of Fiserv Forum, things will probably work out okay for Marquette.
I say “probably,” because even though Georgetown is a not very good at all offense, they absolutely ruined Marquette’s day earlier this season. That trip to Capital One Arena is still the single worst defensive performance of the year for Marquette, both by efficiency and by effective field goal percentage. It is one of just three times this season where MU has given up more than 0.97 points per possession and still won the game. Same goes for allowing an effective field goal percentage over 48%. To a certain degree, it’s completely bonkers that Marquette won this game given how badly Georgetown ran them over with a truck, but the Golden Eagles were doing the exact same thing to the Hoyas on the other end.
Let’s just say that trying that stunt again is not a good plan. After watching Marquette look like goofs on defense against Providence on Saturday after the Friars made them look like goofs on defense earlier this year, I would highly recommend that the MU coaching staff throw the entire defensive game plan from earlier this year in the trash and start completely over from scratch. Whatever they were trying to do in the first meeting between these two teams was an absolute failure. Do literally anything different, because it can not possibly be worse.
Marquette Last 10 Games: 6-4 with losses in their last three games.
Georgetown Last 10 Games: 4-6 with losses in their last two games.
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 15-13.
Current Streak: After winning in D.C. earlier this season, the Golden Eagles have won six out of the last eight meetings.
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@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that’s us!
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@CasualHoya - our SB Nation friends that follow Georgetown, casually
@becb_sbn - our SB Nation friends that follow the whole Big East
@BenSteeleMJS - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel MU beat writer