This is Game #10 of the Big East schedule for Marquette women’s basketball. We’ve made the turn into the second half of the league slate at this point, since the league went to an 18 game schedule for women’s hoops this year. MU went 5-4 against the front half, including a 4-4 mark since the conference schedule started in earnest against UConn on New Year’s Eve.
That’s, uh, not inspiring, but if we look at the schedule and look at how the Big East standings sit at the moment, I think we can safely say that the Golden Eagles got dealt a crummy hand for their first nine games. Both games against UConn and road games against two of the other three teams currently standing in front of MU in the standings? Yeah, as it turns out, that’s a good way to lose four games in your first nine.
Marquette has to close out their first 10 games with the road trip against the third not-UConn team that’s in front of them in the standings. That’s also not particularly favorable for MU, but the reverse stands true: The schedule opens up for Marquette after Wednesday night.
Unfortunately, there’s a chance that Wednesday night might be Marquette’s last chance at a NET top 50 win before the Big East tournament. We’ve got no worries about #25 Creighton staying in the top 50 this year, but Villanova is at #47 as of Tuesday morning. The Wildcats come to Milwaukee for National Marquette Day on February 10th, but they’ve been wobbling back and forth across that #50 cutline since mid-December...... and they still have to play UConn twice and at Creighton. The chances of taking ugly losses here seem high, and that could easily drift the Wildcats into the 50s for good.
I’m not going to say Marquette’s NCAA tournament future — they’re #31 in the NET and #7 in ESPN’s most recent projection from January 26th — is hinging on winning on Wednesday night. Running off eight straight wins to close the regular season would definitely counter a potential loss in Omaha. But a road win and thus a season sweep of the Jays would definitely help, too.
Big East Game #10: at #22 Creighton Bluejays (16-3, 7-2 Big East)
Marquette is 14-17 all time against Creighton. The Golden Eagles snapped a three game skid against the Bluejays with the win earlier this season in Milwaukee, and MU has now won eight of the last 13 meetings.
Y’all can read and extrapolate from incomplete data, so yeah, Creighton has only lost to Connecticut in Big East play other than the loss to MU in Milwaukee on December 13th. In fact, the 94-50 home defeat at the hands of the Huskies is the only loss that CU has taken since visiting Wisconsin. They won three straight before hosting UConn, and they’ve won six straight coming into Wednesday night. Creighton hasn’t been particularly dominant in this stretch of victories, outside of a 36 point win over Butler. +7 at DePaul, +11 vs Providence, +14 at Villanova, +5 at Georgetown, and +8 vs Seton Hall on Sunday in their last contest. It’s kind of weird that their biggest margin is against the best team they’ve played in that run of wins, but such is life. Wins are wins though, and after Marquette had to score 11 straight to avoid a disaster against Butler back on Saturday, it’s not like we’re in position to judge a team that hasn’t taken the losses that Marquette has taken.
The first meeting between these two teams this season was decided by two things: Creighton rallying back from an 11 point deficit early in the second quarter, holding the Golden Eagles scoreless for more than seven minutes to tie the game at 36 heading to intermission, and Marquette getting plays from four of their five starters in the final 3:31 to close down the 76-70 win. That game was an early sign of what we were going to get from Liza Karlen this year, as she went for 25 points and 12 rebounds.
One immediately obvious thing that has a chance to decide Wednesday night’s rematch is Marquette’s three-point shooting. The Golden Eagles rank #6 in the country in three-point shooting percentage in the country, and through Sunday’s game, Kenzie Hare ranks #3 in the country in individual three-point shooting percentage. Here’s the catch: Creighton took that away from Marquette in the first meeting. After the Golden Eagles knocked down all three of their attempts in the first quarter and Hare connected on the fourth attempt just 10 seconds into the second quarter, MU tried just three more shots from behind the arc all game. I’m not going to jump up and down about Marquette missing all three because 4-for-7 in the game is objectively great, but Megan Duffy and her staff have to figure out what Jim Flanery and his staff did to take that component away and then counter it back.
Being able to at least compete with the Bluejays in long range shooting is an obviously important component of playing against them. Creighton is a quality shooting squad, knocking in over 35% on the year and more importantly to the point, they want to shoot a bunch of them. The Bluejays are currently #25 in the country according to Her Hoop Stats in the ratio of their attempts that come from behind the arc, nearly 38% of them. They have five rotation players connecting on at least 34% of their shots, and you can’t leave Morgan Maly and her 33.1% shooting percentage alone, either. In Milwaukee, Emma Ronsiek and Molly Mogensen combined to shoot 6-for-11 from long range while the rest of the team was 2-for-19. That’s how that game went, but this time around, it could be two different women lighting it up, and that’s the danger of CU’s Let It Fly mentality.