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2021 Big East Tournament Preview: #8 Georgetown vs #9 Marquette

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The Golden Eagles need a win to extend their streak of never missing the tournament quarterfinals.

Big East Basketball Tournament - First Round Via Getty

2021 BIG EAST MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

FIRST ROUND

#8 Georgetown Hoyas (9-12, 7-9 Big East) vs #9 Marquette Golden Eagles (13-13, 8-11 Big East)

Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Television: FS1, with Tim Brando and Bill Raftery on the call
Streaming: FoxSportsGo.com
Radio: 94.5 FM ESPN Milwaukee, available through the TuneIn app, with Steve “The Homer” True and Tony Smith on the call
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Line: Marquette -3
Projection: KenPom.com gives Marquette a 57% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 72-71.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMBB
Season Series: Marquette won, 1-0
All Time Series: Marquette leads, 17-13
Current Streak: Marquette has won three straight and eight of the last 10.

Were you aware that Marquette has never missed the quarterfinals in the Big East tournament? Never ever! Not since joining the league in 2005-06. MU is the only school in the league that can say that, even if you take the team that left during The Reformation into account.

That’s relevant for this game, as the Golden Eagles need to defeat the Hoyas in what would be a seed line upset here in order to keep that streak alive. That’s not what you want, but, if we’re being honest, I think we can be kind of confident that it can happen. After all, Marquette did beat Georgetown already this season with MU getting the 64-60 victory in the only meeting that the two teams had thanks to the pandemic. It’s proof of concept! We’ve seen Marquette beat Georgetown! We know it can happen! Maybe even more importantly, we’ve seen Marquette rally from down 18 in the second half against Georgetown and win! If they can do that, then they absolutely can win a game where they DON’T have to expend all that energy coming back from that big of a pit.

By the way, while we’re being optimistic, this seems like a good time to point out that with a certain amount of healthy doses of luck, Marquette kiiiiiiiiiind of has a believable path to the Big East title game. It’s a real stupid path, but believable.

  • Beat Georgetown, which we’ve seen happen
  • Beat Villanova without injured Collin Gillespie and injured Justin Moore (if Moore’s injury keeps him out of this game)
  • St. John’s beats Seton Hall, something that they just did by 10 in the regular season finale after falling behind 18-0 out of the gate
  • Beat St. John’s, which we’ve seen MU play close games with twice this season. MU went 1-1 against the Red Storm, and both games were decided by just two points.

TA-DA, do all that and have all of that fall into place, and that’s how you get to the Big East title game for the first time ever.

But that starts by beating the pants off of the Hoyas on Wednesday afternoon at The Garden.

When we last saw Georgetown, their loss to Marquette was the third of what would end up being five straight that dropped them to 3-8 on the season. The Hoyas then went 6-4 the rest of the way. With that said, they did get wins against Butler and DePaul in there, and those are teams that Marquette can beat (usually) so that’s not some strong indication that the Hoyas are much better here. Georgetown got absolutely hammered by Connecticut in their regular season finale, falling 98-82 and the Huskies were up more than 25 late in the first half.

Based on the first meeting between Marquette and Georgetown, Wednesday’s tournament game is going to be decided who who hits shots. I know, right? Crazy stuff, a basketball game decided by made baskets. In D.C. back in January, Marquette shot just 23% behind the three-point line on 22 attempts, while Georgetown hit 21% of their 24 long range attempts. Both sides shot under 50% on their attempts inside the arc, so neither side had an advantage there either. Going by effective field goal percentage, Marquette has had the advantage over the whole season, ranking #126 in the country at 51%. Georgetown is down at #192 in the country per KenPom at just 49.7%.

The problem for MU is that the two sides shoot the ball completely differently. Marquette is going to rely on getting it inside, as they’re just under 33% from behind the arc as a team. On the other end, Georgetown can’t hit the broad side of a barn on two-point field goals, ranking a very terrible #291 in the country in that department. They’re usually very good at hitting their threes though, raining them in at a 36.6% clip. That number was up to 37.6% in Big East action, which was the best three-point shooting percentage in the league. If Marquette starts trying to trade their twos for Georgetown’s threes, that’s not going to go well. However, while the Hoyas a strong collection of dudes who can knock shots in from behind the arc...... Patrick Ewing doesn’t really want them doing that. They were #6 in the Big East this season in three-point attempt rate — yes, the best shooting team didn’t try to shoot a lot of threes — and they’re a middle of the pack team from a national perspective, too. If Marquette can deny them looks at threes, they may just abandon trying to get them. The Golden Eagles have held six of their last 10 opponents to a three-point attempt rate under 33%, and Georgetown is only getting 39% of their shots from back there. The goal for Marquette is to get them more towards 33% than 39%, and induce them into doing something they’re bad at doing. A simple strategy, sure, but one that should pay dividends for the Golden Eagles and have them playing on Thursday at the Garden yet once again.