Let’s get this out of the way at the top: Marquette women’s basketball didn’t lose to Colorado because they had a bad start to the game. They didn’t lose because they fell behind 12-0 right out of the gate. There was still just over 35 minutes of basketball left to go at that point. Literally anything could have happened.
They lost because it just kept getting worse from there. 12-0 in the first five minutes turned into a first quarter score of 19-4. Marquette lost the second quarter, 16-9. Marquette lost the third quarter, 21-14. You don’t have to be an advanced mathematician to understand that falling behind more and more is bad for your chances to win a game. Marquette got punched right in the face out of the gate and never found a way back into the game, not in any real way.
They got beat tactically, they got beat stylistically, they got beat in intensity, they got beat no matter how you want to look at it. Colorado came into the McGuire Center wanting that win in a bad way and they never let Marquette get up off the mat in any way, shape, or fashion.
That’s, uh, bad.
It’s particularly bad for Marquette, who has taken a week off for Christmas. Marquette’s next four games are against teams who are either ranked or have earned Associated Press top 25 votes at some point this season. All four come against teams that started the season with their eyes on the NCAA tournament in March. This was always going to be a very important stretch for the Golden Eagles, especially with three straight road games coming up after the one we’re previewing right now. The problem is that I don’t think anyone expected Megan Duffy’s team to be going into this stretch coming off not only their worst performance of the season but their most lifeless performance of the season.
Whatever funk Marquette found themselves in and could not get out of against the Buffaloes, they have to get out of it immediately if they want to be an NCAA team at the end of the season.
Big East Game #4: vs Villanova Wildcats (10-3, 1-1 Big East)
Marquette is 17-12 all time against Villanova. Even after the Wildcats swept the season series last year, MU has still won 10 of the last 13 meetings between the two teams dating back to December of 2016.
The Wildcats come into the McGuire Center with wins in four of their last five games. The wins aren’t anything particularly interesting to talk about as they detonated four sub-100 NET teams. Saint Joseph’s was the closest thing to a quality opponent at #110 in the NET, and Villanova won by 23. I’m not trying to be mean here, playing a top 150 team in the non-conference is great, but the NCAA sorts everything below #100 into the fourth and least interesting column on the team sheets. Noted Good Team Villanova (#17 in the NET as I type this) destroyed teams that they should destroy, the end.
The loss is nothing to worry about, as it came against Noted Good Team Iowa State, and it was on a neutral court at Mohegan Sun Casino to boot. The only thing notable about the loss is that it sent the Wildcats to 0-3 against top 25 NET foes so far this season. That’s a little bit telling relative to their #17 ranking. I don’t want to say that it’s a fragile #17, but you can see how it’s not really backed up by a quality win at the moment.
I’m guessing that the tape that Megan Duffy and her staff are picking apart the most is Villanova’s 67-46 home loss to Creighton. I don’t know how deep they’re going to need to go to figure out how the Bluejays pulled that off, because it’s pretty simple: Creighton hit nine of their 19 long range attempts, and Villanova hit two of their 23 attempts. That’s 47% vs 9%. Boom, solved it.
If you’ve been paying attention to Big East women’s basketball for a minute, the next thing I’m going to say isn’t going to surprise you: Stop Maddy Siegrist and you stop Villanova. Siegrist is the reigning Big East Player of the Year and right now, she is dragging the Wildcats to everything good about them. How do we want to explain this past the fact that she’s averaging 28.0 points — #2 in the country, by the way — and 9.7 rebounds per game? How about this:
- Siegrist is averaging almost as many made baskets per game — 10.4 — as anyone else on the team is attempting. Lucy Olsen is at 10.9 field goal attempts per game and no one else is north of eight.
- Siegrist’s usage rate is at 37.6% according to Her Hoop Stats, and that is #6 in the country. There are only five players in the country that carry a heavier load for their team than Siegrist does.
- Siegrist is shooting nearly 42% from beyond the arc this season. In their three losses: 0-for-6 against Baylor, 0-for-5 against Creighton, 2-for-5 against Iowa State. A sub-par day, as 40% is slightly below 42%, opens the door to a loss for the Wildcats if the opponent can match them everywhere else on the floor.
One thing working heavily in Marquette’s favor here is that they’re a much better rebounding team than Villanova. The Wildcats are a passable offensive rebounding team and actually kind of bad on the defensive glass. Her Hoop Stats has them at just #216 in the country on that end, and MU is more than happy to grab a second chance anyway. If the Golden Eagles can press their advantage on their own misses and stop Villanova from letting Siegrist get a second look at the rim, that’s going to go a long way towards smiling faces and high fives at the end of 40 minutes.