We have to start our preview here by discussing the schedule ahead at large.
Marquette women’s basketball is about to embark on a seven day stretch where they will play four games. It’s not great, as the Golden Eagles will be playing every other day starting on Monday and going through next week Sunday. By next Monday morning, Marquette will have gone from 40% of their 20 game Big East schedule played to 60%. That’s a lot of basketball in a very little amount of time.
Given the very little amount of turnaround time, we’re going to combine some previews here. You’re getting the previews for the next two games in this article, because 1) this is how we used to do previews for two game weekends in the old Big East schedule system when there was only one day off between games and 2) let’s be honest: not much is changing about Marquette between now and Tuesday night/Wednesday morning anyway.
To make matters.... well, not worse, but definitely more difficult, Game #3 and #4 of the week will be against the two ranked teams in the league: Connecticut and DePaul. They’ll be in that order, and at least Marquette will get to play them at the McGuire Center. Then again, MU will have to go from Omaha to D.C. to Milwaukee between Monday and Wednesday night and play two games in there before returning home to prepare to play the #3 team in the country who are probably going to be still slightly pissed off after suffering their first loss of the season back on Thursday night. Heck, even UConn’s path to Friday night won’t be fun since they have to play at DePaul on Sunday afternoon, go to New York to play St. John’s on Wednesday, and then come back to the midwest to play Marquette on Friday evening. That does not sound like a picnic, but it’s probably still more of a picnic than all the hustling around that Marquette is doing this week.
If we’re being honest, a 3-1 result in these four games would be a tremendous outcome for Marquette. You’d want the 1 to come against UConn or DePaul, obviously, because hooboy, it would be a very weird 3-1 result if the loss came against Monday or Wednesday’s opponents but then Marquette beat the Huskies for the first time ever and then followed it up with a win over DePaul. Anyway, the point is that right now, Marquette is in a tie with DePaul for second place in the Big East. Both teams have one loss, with MU falling to Seton Hall and DePaul losing to UConn once already. Depending on how Sunday at Wintrust Arena goes for the Blue Demons, Marquette has a chance to essentially guarantee themselves a second place finish in the conference if they can go 3-1 this week. We’ll talk more about the standings later this week when we preview UConn and DePaul, but the easiest path to 3-1 on the week involves getting the two early wins. In the big standings picture, they’re pretty big ones for Marquette.
In fact, Marquette is on the verge of starting to clinch “no worse than” spots in the conference standings. One game at a time, though. Just do the best you can, get the win that’s in front of you, and keep stacking the pile of W’s higher and higher.
Big East Game #9: at Creighton Bluejays (4-6, 3-3 Big East)
Marquette is 9-14 all time against Creighton. The Golden Eagles split the season series with the Bluejays last season, but since MU won the second game, that snapped a two game burst of wins by Creighton. The Golden Eagles have won five of the last nine against the Bluejays, but they have not won in Omaha since January of 2018.
Well, as seems to be standard Creighton has had a circuitous route to their 10 games played this season. Nine of those were played between November 25th and January 3rd, and they still ended up with three postponements in that stretch. Then the Jays went on a COVID-19 pause that had to be extended 10 days later, and as a result they went 26 days without playing a game. Their first game back was this past Saturday afternoon as they managed to outlast Georgetown, 65-57. If you remember Marquette’s encounter with the Hoyas from earlier this season, that’s not a particularly encouraging performance on the first game back from such a long stretch off. Then again, Marquette lost their first game back after nearly a month off after a holiday break and a COVID break, so we don’t really have anything to criticize the Bluejays here.
Creighton has had bigger problems than just that nearly month long COVID pause. They have one woman — leading scorer Temi Carda — who has started all 10 games. Six women have played in all 10 contests, with all of them averaging at least 10 minutes per game, so that’s some decent consistency in the rotation. But when Emma Ronsiek and Molly Mogensen’s four starts are the most after Carda in that six woman group, that kind of tells us that head coach Jim Flanery has been putting together lineups with pipe cleaners and glitter on most nights.
Mogensen and Ronsiek’s fourth starts of the season came on Saturday against the Hoyas. Payton Brotzki made her 10th appearance of the year and her first start. The fifth starter was Mykel Parham, who made her eight appearance of the year. #2 scorer Tatum Rembao was missing from the lineup for the fourth time this season, as was #4 scorer Rachael Saunders, who doubles as the Bluejays’ most reliable outside shooting threat at 42% on the year. Chloe Dworak (3.3 pts, 1.7 rebounds) has averaged 17 minutes a night for Flanery, but she missed her first game of the season on Saturday.
I go through all of this to say that we have no idea exactly what kind of lineup that Flanery is going to throw at Marquette on Monday afternoon. That’s unsettling news if you’re in charge of gameplanning for the Bluejays like the Marquette coaching staff is, and it’s probably not great for Flan’s stress levels, either.
We will have to wait and see if Creighton’s defensive struggles this season are because they can’t get the same rotation on the floor to build coherence or if it’s generally the same problems that plagued them last season, too. HerHoopStats.com marks the Bluejays as the #248 defense in the country in terms of points per 100 possessions this season.... and that’s great news for the Golden Eagles, who rank #20 in the country in the offensive version of that stat. In theory, MU should be able to mow through the Bluejays’ defense. That didn’t particularly happen last year when both teams were roughly the same ranks and 1) Creighton beat Marquette in Omaha and 2) Marquette won in Milwaukee by scoring just 52 points.
Going the other way, Marquette is going to have to watch out for Creighton’s three-point shooting. The Bluejays LOVE shooting threes, with over 40% of their shots coming from behind the arc. They’re passably good at them, hitting just under 33% as a team. However, if they start getting good looks and shots start going down, that’s a real problem given how many more of them will be coming. MU is right about middle of the country in terms of the rate at which they allow opponents to shoot threes, so if they can keep Creighton to Marquette’s defensive season average, that’s probably going to mean a victory for the Golden Eagles.
Big East Game #10: at Georgetown Hoyas (1-7, 1-7 Big East)
Marquette is 21-4 all time against Georgetown. The Golden Eagles have won seven straight against the Hoyas and 10 of the last 11.
This is, of course, the second time this season that we’ve seen Georgetown. The Golden Eagles were up 16-5 after 10 minutes in the first meeting at the McGuire Center and spent the game flirting with the possibility of beating the Hoyas by more points than they allowed. MU ultimately failed on this mission, winning by 32 while allowing Georgetown to score 40 points in 40 minutes.
Since then, Georgetown has played three games.
- They lost by 31 at Connecticut, which HA HA UConn, couldn’t even beat them by as many as Marquette did.
- They lost by 17 at home to St. John’s after scoring to pull within 1, 39-38, with 15:51 to play.
- They lost by eight to Creighton as mentioned earlier. The Bluejays hadn’t played in nearly a month and didn’t have anything close to their full roster, but that didn’t really matter.
It’s only been three games and it will only be 14 days between games between the two sides. I don’t know how seriously you want me to try and preview this. I want Megan Duffy and her staff and her players to take this game very seriously and hustle each and every time up and down the floor. But after seeing the Golden Eagles completely outclass the Hoyas across 40 minutes last time around, I don’t have much to offer you in much of analysis other than “do that again.” Georgetown’s not a very good basketball team, or at the very least, Marquette is a much better basketball team than Georgetown. Spend 40 minutes in the nation’s capitol proving it and don’t make this into more work than it needs to be because the coming weekend games against Connecticut and DePaul are going to need you to be as fresh as possible.