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Marquette Basketball Big East Preview Primer: vs #20 Seton Hall Pirates

The Golden Eagles go for their fourth straight win on Saturday morning against the Pirates.

Rutgers v Seton Hall Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Marquette Golden Eagles (11-6, 3-3 Big East) vs #20 Seton Hall Pirates (11-4, 2-3 Big East)

Date: Saturday, January 15, 2022
Time: 11am Central
Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Marquette Stats Leaders

Points: Justin Lewis, 15.1 ppg
Rebounds: Justin Lewis, 7.8 rpg
Assists: Tyler Kolek, 6.4 apg

Seton Hall Stats Leaders

Points: Jared Rhoden, 16.9 ppg
Rebounds: Jared Rhoden, 7.1 rpg
Assists: Kadary Richmond, 3.4 apg

KenPom.com Rankings

Marquette: #44
Seton Hall: #30
Game Projection: Marquette has a 51% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 78-77.

So Far This Season: Well, things have gotten a little sideways on Seton Hall since Big East play started. They were doing pretty well, starting off 9-1 (8-1 against D1 opponents) with only a narrow defeat to Ohio State down in an event in Fort Myers messing up their record. After beating Texas and Rutgers in back-to-back home games, the Pirates didn’t play again for 17 days due to a COVID stoppage.... and they came back from that with a road loss to Providence and a home loss to Villanova.

There’s a certain amount of “that’s life in the Big East” there, and they bounced back by smashing Butler in Indianapolis before returning home to edge Connecticut back on Saturday. That brings us to their most recent game which ended about two hours before I am typing this. That contest was a 96-92 loss at DePaul in which Seton Hall did not get out of the gate well at all, trailed all game long, including by as many as 17 as late as 8:46 remaining and by as many as 11 with just 56 seconds left. The final was four points, the game was not that close.

Tempo Free Fun: I hope you like up and down basketball. Saturday’s game will feature two teams in KenPom’s top 40 in adjusted tempo, with Marquette holding a 72.2 to 71.9 possession advantage in terms of average pace. The team that is most able to dictate their offensive structure is going to hold a notable advantage in this game. Both teams play lighting quick on offense, ranking in the top 25 in the country in shortest average possession length. On the other end, though, both Seton Hall and Marquette are confounding riddles for their opponents. Both defenses are amongst the 60 longest longest possession lengths in the country.

In terms of how things have gone in Big East play so far.... well, Seton Hall is in trouble. Marquette has the #2 effective field goal defense in the conference per KenPom, as well as the #1 eFG% offense. The Pirates? #7 on offense, and #8 on defense. That’s a really strong “everything we are good at, you are bad at” situation over the last five games, especially given how things have been going for the Golden Eagles in the immediate past.

The last three games for Marquette have been their three most efficient offensive performances of the season, and that’s raw efficiency, not prorated for the opponent. The defense is a little less impressive, with the Georgetown and Providence games ranking #2 and #5 on the season. DePaul..... DePaul is their worst defensive performance in a victory, but that’s largely speaking because Marquette wasn’t getting stops in the first half. The second half is a different story, and if Shaka Smart gets the message through to his team about that fact.... and his postgame speech as seen on FS1’s all-access broadcast definitely made that point.... well, I’d imagine that the Golden Eagles will be coming out on Saturday morning locked in to lock up the Pirates.

As you can see from the stats towards the top of the page, Jared Rhoden will be the #1 item on the scouting report for the Golden Eagles. The 6’6” senior is a heavy contributor to everything that Seton Hall does, right up to ranking #256 in the country in usage per KenPom.com. He doesn’t make mistakes, he rebounds really well, he gets to the line a ton, and he doesn’t commit fouls, which is letting him play at least 30 minutes a game in each of Seton Hall’s last nine games. The only thing that he doesn’t do well is shoot threes. He’s at a little over three per game attempted, and only 29% of them go in. That’s for the whole season, though, and in Big East play, that shooting percentage is up to 35.7%. That’s partly because he went 3-for-7 against Butler. In the other four games? 2-for-7, and that’s with zero attempts against Providence.

It’s not just Rhoden, it’s the whole Seton Hall roster. Amongst regulars, only Tray Jackson (36.7%) is north of 33% on the season. That’s part of the reason why they’re a lousy eFG% offense. If Marquette can make use of their excellent ball movement and cutting to get open and easy looks that go down, it may induce Seton Hall to try to keep up by launching from distance. That would, generally speaking, work out for Marquette.

The thing I’m most curious about here is how Marquette’s defense will affect Seton Hall’s offense. See, the Pirates hate passing, apparently. They’re #353 — out of 358 Division 1 teams! — in assist rate, or the percentage of buckets that come off an assist. It’s like they’re morally opposed to it. This is an aberration for Kevin Willard’s teams. Sure, they’re not always kings of finding the open man, in fact, they’re kind of all over the map in that department from year to year. But this season is the single lowest assist rate that a Willard team has ever produced, and that includes his three seasons at Iona.

What is the Marquette defense capable of doing when Seton Hall isn’t going to be interesting or creative with their offense? What happens when all you have to do is defend your man to get stops or not worry about who’s getting left open by a rotation because they’re probably not going to pass it anyway? Or will Seton Hall’s lack of ingenuity end up confounding Marquette because the Golden Eagles aren’t expecting something so straightforward?

Stat Watch: Kur Kuath is currently ranked #5 amongst Marquette seniors in blocks in a season with 51. He is two blocks away from Luke Fischer in fourth place and four away from Amal McCaskill in third with 55. Speaking of 55 blocks in a season, that would be good enough for a tie for the 10th most by any Marquette player in a single campaign. McCaskill is tied with Chris Otule’s 2011 season and Theo John’s 2020 season. If Kuath has a particularly productive outing against the Pirates, he could join that top 10 tie by the end of the game.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 5-5, with wins in each of the last three games.

Seton Hall Last 10 Games: 7-3, with losses in three of the last five games.

All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 19-13

Current Streak: Seton Hall has won six straight games in the series. Marquette has not won at home against the Pirates since January 12, 2019.

Follow Along On Twitter

@AnonymousEagle - Hey, that’s us!
@MarquetteMBB - Official MU account
@SetonHallMBB - Official Seton Hall account
@becb_sbn - our SB Nation friends that follow the whole Big East
@BenSteeleMJS - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel MU beat writer