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2021 Big East Women’s Basketball Quarterfinals Preview: #2 Marquette vs #7 Providence

The Golden Eagles begin their quest for a fifth straight tournament title game by squaring off against the Friars.

Villanova v Providence Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images



#2 Marquette Golden Eagles (17-5, 14-4 Big East) vs #7 Providence Friars (7-13, 4-10 Big East)

Date: Saturday, March 6, 2021
Time: 5pm Central
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut
Television: FS2, with John Fanta and Kim Adams on the call
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Season Series: Marquette won, 2-0
All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 19-5
Current Streak: Marquette has won eight straight against Providence.

This will be the first game of the 2021 Big East tournament for Marquette, as finishing second in the league gave them one of the five byes to the quarterfinals and one of the three seeds that will play a team that had to play in the first round. The Golden Eagles ended the regular season by winning five of their last six games, although the last time they played was a 63-53 loss to #1 in the AP poll and #1 in the Big East tournament Connecticut.

#7 seeded Providence arrives in the quarterfinals after knocking off #10 seeded Butler on Friday afternoon. It did not look like things were going to go in that direction at halftime, as the Bulldogs had a 32-25 lead at the break, and Butler scored the first two points after intermission. PC would not manage to draw the game to a tie until there was 1:21 left in the third, and things stayed tight from there. Butler was up three with 2:35 to go, but they would not score again. Mary Baskerville came up big for the Friars in the final two minutes, scoring two buckets and splitting a pair of freebies with 28 seconds left to put Providence up two, 63-61. Butler had three tries to tie or win, but Genesis Parker missed two three-point attempts in the final 30 seconds sandwiched around a missed three by Upe Atosu, and that’s how Providence advanced to the quarterfinals. PC has now won at least one Big East tournament game in three straight events.

If the previous meetings between the two teams this season are any indication, Providence will not win a second tourney game in 2021. In the first meeting between the two teams, Marquette went on 19-0 run to seize control early and then immediately tacked on another 13-0 run right after that to make it a 32-3 run to end the first half. At this point, finding out that MU won that game by 49 points, 89-40, is not surprising to you.

That was way back in early December, though, and it was in Milwaukee. In mid-February, the two teams collided in Rhode Island, and that game was much closer. At least, it was if you call “Marquette won by 21” to be much closer than winning by 49. Which, technically, it is. The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first four minutes, let PC back in to close within six in the second quarter, and then led by 17 at the half on their way to a 73-52 victory.

As you can kind of tell, this isn’t much of a thrilling matchup on paper or on the court through 80 minutes of action. It’s a meeting of #40 in the Her Hoop Stats rankings and #224. If you prefer the NCAA’s NET rankings, it’s Marquette at #33 and Providence at #166. Per Her Hoop Stats, Providence doesn’t really do anything particularly well — the nicest thing you can say is that they’re in the top 125 in field goal percentage — so as long as Marquette plays Marquette basketball the way head coach Megan Duffy wants them to play, they should be okay.

We should, in the interest of fairness, point out that Mary Baskerville is pretty great. Marquette held her to just two points, five rebounds, and two assists in the game where the Golden Eagles won by nearly 50. In the return bout, she went for 19/2/2 with six steals and two blocks in 27 minutes before fouling out. The problem is figuring out how much she’s going to be on the floor. She’s only averaging 24.5 minutes per game, and she’s only played more than 30 minutes once since January 7th. Baskerville had a great game in Rhode Island against Marquette.... but she didn’t start, and the score was 13-2 by the time she checked in. She essentially had zero impact on the game’s outcome as a result. If Marquette can corral her in this game — or catch a break with PC head coach Jim Crowley corraling her for them — then the Golden Eagles should be able to advance to the semifinals without too much difficulty.