2020 Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament
#3 Seton Hall Pirates (21-9, 13-5 Big East) vs #6 Marquette Golden Eagles (18-12, 8-10 Big East)
Date: Thursday, March 12, 2020
Time: 8:30pm Central, or 30 minutes after the previous game in the tournament ends
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Television: FS1, with Gus Johnson, Bill Raftery, and Lisa Byington on the call
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMBB
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 19-11
Current Streak: Seton Hall has won the last four meetings, including a semifinal contest in last year’s Big East tournament.
Season Series: Seton Hall won, 2-0
Marquette and Seton Hall have played 80 minutes of basketball this season. For the middle 57 minutes and 40 seconds of that stretch, Seton Hall outscored Marquette 128-79.
From the moment Marquette went up 26-15 in the first half of the trip to the Prudential Center through Myles Powell’s three-pointer that put Seton Hall up 74-50 at Fiserv Forum, Marquette found themselves outscored by 49 points. That’s a very scorched earth type of situation.
And now, Marquette gets to play that same Seton Hall team in the Big East quarterfinals. A game that comes after the Golden Eagles have lost six of their final seven regular season games, including that game against the Pirates at Fiserv Forum, giving head coach Steve Wojciechowski his second debilitatingly awful collapse down the stretch in as many seasons. A game that Marquette would really prefer to win in order to shake off the tone and tenor of the collapse and head into the NCAA tournament without that weight on their shoulders. A game that, were they to win it, would definitely shake off any conversation that maybe, just maybe, Marquette doesn’t deserve a bid to that NCAA tournament.
However, I regret to inform you that if someone has told you — say, KenPom.com and its 44% chance and a predicted score of 77-76 — that Marquette has anything better than a snowball’s chance in hell of winning this game against Seton Hall, you have been smeckledorfed.
Yes, I realize that’s not how odds and predictive metrics work. I really don’t care. Sure, you can try and claim that there’s that other 23 minutes against the Pirates where Marquette looked somewhere between a competent Division 1 team and a dominant Division 1 team, at least when faced off against Seton Hall. If they can can just corral that aspect for 40 straight minutes, then they can beat Seton Hall.
Except you’d just be lying to yourself to make it feel like there’s a quality reason to actually watch Thursday night’s game and think that the Golden Eagles can pull something interesting out of this season. There’s no reason to think that. There might have been a reason to think that had the DePaul and St. John’s games ended with wins. They did not. They ended with varying types of horrifying losses. The kind of losses that make you say “everything is bad forever.” The kind of losses that make you think “this team has absolutely quit on each other and their coaching staff.” The kind of losses that make you realize that this is all going to end badly this season, there’s nothing you can do about it, and worse, there’s an increasingly likelihood that anyone who can do anything about is and will be refusing to do anything about it.
So, yeah. That’s where we’re at with this Marquette season. Based on how that 57 minutes and change has gone, and based on how the last week has gone, I don’t see any point in diving in deep on “here’s what MU does well” and “here’s what Seton Hall does poorly” and “here’s what MU needs to focus on to win.” There’s no point. The most likely outcome of this game is that the Golden Eagles get absolutely blitzed out of their shorts — in front of absolutely no fans at The Garden thanks to COVID-19 — and then we all get to dread the wait to Selection Sunday, presuming THAT actually still happens thanks to COVID-19.