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2022 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament Semifinals Preview: #1 UConn vs #5 Marquette

The Golden Eagles have to take down the Huskies to reach the title game for the sixth straight season.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Albany Regional-UCLA vs Connecticut Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament

Semifinals

#1 UConn Huskies (23-5, 16-1 Big East) vs #5 Marquette Golden Eagles (21-9, 13-7 Big East)

Date: Sunday, March 6, 2022
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut
Television: FS1
Streaming: FoxSports.com/live
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Season Series: UConn won, 2-0
All-Time Series: UConn leads, 14-0.

Marquette is in the semifinals of the Big East tournament for the sixth consecutive season. That’s pretty neat. They got here by way of a 105-85 demolition of #4 seeded DePaul in the quarterfinals, and that was also pretty neat.

Sadly, it seems that the odds of a sixth straight appearance in the Big East championship game are kind of low. Standing in between Marquette and that title game is regular season champ Connecticut. That’s the same Connecticut that ripped the doors off of a fun and competitive three quarters of basketball to beat Marquette by 14 in Milwaukee. That’s the same Connecticut that rampaged past Marquette 69-39 when the two teams rematched at the XL Center in Hartford 10 days later.

Just based on that information alone, we can say that the odds are probably stacked against Marquette. We don’t even need to get into UConn’s 84-38 victory over Georgetown in the quarterfinals, nor do we even need to mention that the Huskies held the Hoyas to just nine points in the entire first half. Not quarter, half.

What we will mention, though, is the fact that this is not going to be the same Connecticut team that Marquette saw in Milwaukee or in Hartford. This will be a UConn team that has Paige Bueckers in the lineup. The all-everything guard has played in just nine of UConn’s 28 games this season, and has only gotten back into the lineup over the last two games of the regular season and the decimation of Georgetown on Saturday afternoon.

In those three games, Bueckers is averaging 8.7 points on 10-for-15 shooting (4-for-5 on threes, but that was all against Georgetown), 3.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists while only getting on the court for 14.7 minutes. Head coach Geno Auriemma is clearly not interested in pushing his star guard harder than he needs to, and why should he? They won the Big East regular season title without her.

We already saw that it takes 40 minutes of perfect basketball from Marquette to beat Connecticut. We know this because the Huskies found an extra gear in the fourth quarter in Milwaukee, and because we saw UConn just blow MU’s doors off early in their home barn. That was without Bueckers chipping in even 10 or 12 minutes a game.

How much is it going to take from Marquette to knock off the regular season champs and defending tournament champs with Bueckers when they already kind of how how far they have to go just to be competitive with UConn without her? Is it even possible for Marquette to do that?

Well, as Jim Valvano once said: If we’re in the game, then yeah, we’ve got a chance.

That chance is also what’s standing between Marquette and the NCAA tournament. I don’t think MU makes it even if they beat UConn on Sunday. I’m pretty sure it’s going to require the autobid on Monday night at Mohegan Sun..... but that’s a problem for down the line, if we get there.