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#22 Marquette Basketball Big East Preview Primer: at RV Seton Hall

Boy, it felt good to type that #22 in the title. 700 days without a ranking!

Syndication: Journal Sentinel
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MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK

#22 Marquette Golden Eagles (14-6, 6-3 Big East) at RV Seton Hall Pirates (12-6, 3-5 Big East)

Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Time: 7:30pm Central
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

Marquette Stats Leaders

Points: Justin Lewis, 15.8 ppg
Rebounds: Justin Lewis, 7.9 rpg
Assists: Tyler Kolek, 6.5 apg

Seton Hall Stats Leaders

Points: Jared Rhoden, 15.7 ppg
Rebounds: Alexis Yetna, 7.9 rpg
Assists: Kadary Richmond, 3.7 apg

Seton Hall Lineup Note: Pirates guard Bryce Aiken hasn’t played in either of SHU’s last two games after being diagnosed with a concussion following their loss to Marquette. His status for this game is up in the air.

KenPom.com Rankings

Marquette: #36
Seton Hall: #35
Game Projection: Seton Hall has a 62% chance of victory, with a predicted score of 74-71.

Last Time Out: Marquette picked up a 73-72 victory at Fiserv Forum behind a 26 point, five rebound, and three assist performance from Darryl Morsell. Justin Lewis was the only other Golden Eagle to score in double digits, giving MU 18 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals in the win.

Both teams were hot from the get-go, with Marquette leading 44-41 at halftime and both sides firing off an effective field goal percentage of at least 66%. Things changed wildly in the second half as Marquette’s 35% eFG% bested Seton Hall’s 30%.

The Golden Eagles picked up the close win after leading by as many as 11 late in the first half thanks to a great drive/pass/score combination from Tyler Kolek and Justin Lewis and then Greg Elliott accessed his inner Andrew Rowsey to draw a Mini-Thing to get to the line with time expiring in a tie game. He hit his first, intentionally missed the second at the behest of his teammates as we would learn after the game from head coach Shaka Smart, and Seton Hall blew the inbound very badly with 1.7 seconds to go to bring the thing to an end.

Since Last We Met: Seton Hall came into that game ranked #20 in the country, and that loss combined with a 96-92 loss to DePaul two days earlier sent them shooting out of the Associated Press top 25. They bounced back a week later with an ugly 66-60 win over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden where neither side could hit the broad side of a barn (both teams had an eFG% under 37%) but on Monday night, things went the other way on the Pirates. At Walsh Gym, their on-campus arena that serves as the home to their women’s basketball team, Kevin Willard’s squad got manhandled by the Red Storm in a COVID-created rescheduled game. St. John’s 84, Seton Hall 63 thanks to an 18-3 first half run that put the visitors up 20 and a 16-3 second half run by the Johnnies that sent it from a 13 point game to a 26 point game.

Since the start of Big East play for Seton Hall on December 29th, the Pirates have been playing like the #101 team in the country according to T-Rank’s filters, and since the day of that loss to DePaul? #162.

Tempo Free Fun: Given that the first meeting came right down to the wire, it’s hard to truly pull anything out of that game, statistically speaking, that definitely turned the game one way or another. We can, however, identify two things that Marquette needs to make sure do not happen again and another thing that almost assuredly will not work in the Golden Eagles’ favor again.

Let’s start with the thing that probably won’t break their way again, and that’s Seton Hall committing 20 turnovers. That’s 28% of their possessions in the game. On the season as a whole, SHU is only coughing it up 17% of the time, and in Big East play, that number is only 18.2%. Obviously 28% is a notable aberration for the Pirates, and while Marquette likes to play with an incredibly active defense, that’s even more than the 19% that the Golden Eagles generate on average. Five of those turnovers came from Bryce Aiken alone, and that’s the worst total he’s had in a game since December 7, 2019. Even if Aiken does play on Wednesday night, MU probably can’t depend on 28% of Seton Hall’s possessions being completely empty. MU generated 20 points on those 20 turnovers, which is about average in terms of points per possession, but you’d like to think that you should be scoring more than one point per possession on turnovers.... but also one of the turnovers was Seton Hall’s very last second throwaway that Justin Lewis just caught and waited for time to expire, so technically they did go past 1.00 per.

The two things that Marquette does need to avoid are technically just one human being: Ike Obiagu. The Seton Hall big man had seven blocked shots in the game as well as seven offensive rebounds. Marquette shot just 38% on two-pointers against the Pirates in the first meeting which is actually 47% if you look at all the shots that Obiagu didn’t block. The seven offensive rebounds were a game high as Seton Hall grabbed exactly one-half of their missed shots for a second chance. Seton Hall ended up with 14 second chance points on their 19 offensive rebounds, which is kind of good news for Marquette since that’s under a point per attempt.... but a 50% defensive rebounding rate is absolutely garbage so it’s hard to take solace in what the defense did after that. I don’t want to discount Alexis Yetna here, as the French transfer from South Florida had six of the other 12 offensive rebounds in the game for the Pirates. One way or another, Marquette can not allow Seton Hall to have access to so many offensive rebounds.

In terms of how these teams match up in general, things look much more favorable to Seton Hall if we look at the season as a whole. SHU’s defense (#39 in the country per KenPom.com) is higher ranked than Marquette’s offense (#66), so that looks like it’s an advantage for the Pirates, particularly since they’re a great effective field goal percentage defense. A lot of that has to do with Obiagu ranking #2 in the country in block rate and Yetna not being a slouch at #127 in that department.

However, if we look at just Big East play, things tilt in Marquette’s favor. Given how much better MU has looked since Big East play started, this shouldn’t be a terrible surprise to you. KenPom.com says this is a battle between the #3 most efficient offense in the league in Marquette... and SHU’s #8 defense. On the other end, it’s Marquette’s #3 in the league defense against SHU’s #7 offense.

That seems to be a clear advantage on both ends to Marquette. It’s mostly attributable to the shooting, as the Golden Eagles are the most accurate three-point shooting team in the Big East, canning nearly 40% of their long range looks. Seton Hall stinks at stopping threes from going in, and they also stink at hitting three-pointers. Their #9 in the Big East three-point shooting percentage is helping to propel the Pirates to the second worst effective field goal percentage on offense in the conference. MU on defense there? #2 in eFG% and three-point percentage as well.

That is part of how the last game went, as Seton Hall shot 29% from long range on 21 tries.... and Marquette hit half of their 22 attempts. Can MU do that again? Probably not, which means doing stuff like Kolek did to get Lewis that big bucket late, forcing Obiagu to move and thus free up the lane for secondary drives might just be the difference between a win and a loss in the Garden State for the Golden Eagles.

Stat Watch: Kur Kuath is tied with Faisal Abraham for the ninth most blocks in a single Marquette season right now. Obviously, one block will move Kuath into ninth place alone, but he’ll need five to catch Walter Downing for eighth place.

Marquette Last 10 Games: 6-4 with wins in each of the last six games.

Seton Hall Last 10 Games: 5-5 with losses in three of the last four games.

All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 20-13

Current Streak: The Golden Eagles snapped a six game Pirates winning streak by winning in Milwaukee earlier this season. Marquette has not won at Seton Hall since February 7, 2018.

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