2021 BIG EAST WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
#1 Connecticut Huskies (23-1, 18-0 Big East) vs #2 Marquette Golden Eagles (19-5, 14-4 Big East)
Date: Monday, March 8, 2021
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut
Television: FS1, with Lisa Byington and Sarah Kustok on the call
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Season Series: Connecticut won, 2-0
All-Time Series and Current Streak: Connecticut leads, 11-0
We played nine of the 10 games in the Big East tournament, and the most likely outcome of those 10 games — #1 and #2 arriving in the title game — is the one that we got. For the third time this season and the second time in a week, we will get Marquette and UConn squaring off. This time, it’s not just a regular season game in the middle of the schedule, and it’s not a regular season finale with nothing truly on the line for either team. It’s a game for all the Tostitos: The Big East tournament championship is on the line, as is the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Marquette got here by beating Providence 68-43 in the quarterfinal round and then holding off Creighton 64-59 in the semifinals. Connecticut’s path to the title game was a bit easier, and I don’t mean that they played a weaker schedule than Marquette. UConn eradicated St. John’s 77-41 in the quarterfinals and then unloaded on Villanova to the tune of 84-39 at the final horn. They whomped on the Wildcats so badly that Villanova didn’t even score 10 points in the second or the third quarter.
A whomping like that is kind of what happened to Marquette in the first meeting with UConn this season in Milwaukee. Paige Bueckers ran wild to the tune of 30 points and her Huskies won 87-58. When the series shifted to Storrs in the regular season finale, Marquette fell behind by 15..... but they never fell behind by more. UConn won, but only by 10, and Marquette forced the Huskies to make play after play to make sure that the Golden Eagles didn’t make a full fledged comeback.
I think it’s obvious that everyone is going to say that the Huskies are favored in this game. The question at hand, though, is what did Marquette learn last week Monday night? Maybe more accurately, how much did Marquette learn last week Monday night? Was it enough to unlock the mystery box that is the Huskies? Connecticut made it through the conference regular season schedule without taking a loss, just like they did in every season that they were in the American Athletic Conference. They won every single AAC conference tournament, too, which means they didn’t take a loss in any of those games, either. This will (likely?) be the last time this season that they can take a loss to a Big East team, and Marquette is the only team remaining that can hand them that loss.
I’m not predicting it.... but Marquette did play UConn even after trailing by 11 at the end of the first quarter a week ago. Can the Golden Eagles find a way to avoid falling in the hole in the first place and put themselves in position to win at the end?