Game Preview: Marquette vs. Georgetown

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Two teams looking to supplant themselves on the bubble do battle in Milwaukee, as Marquette hosts Georgetown.

When: Feb. 27, 2014

Time: 9:00 p.m. ET

Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center; Milwaukee, Wis.

How to Watch: Fox Sports 1

The NCAA Tournament bubble is a hot topic this time of year, and these pair of 16-11 squads are on the outside looking in.

While there's still hope for both Georgetown and Marquette, it is dwindling fast.  So fast that it was almost gone on Saturday when Marquette was able to escape DePaul in Rosemont with a 96-94 overtime victory. But if the Golden Eagles are able to win out, which would include a road win at No. 8 Villanova, they might just have a chance to sneak their way into the tournament.

As for Georgetown, the Hoyas are coming off of a big win at home against Xavier. However, they had previously lost two road games against St. John’s and Seton Hall.  There is one main difference between these two teams: quality wins.  The Hoyas have two, and Marquette has none. That could play a big difference come Selection Sunday, but these teams have a lot of work to do until then.

It all starts with this game; a rematch of a Jan. 20 game in which Marquette was able to squeak by Georgetown in Washington D.C. in overtime by the tune of 80-72.

As is often the case for the Golden Eagles, The Davante Gardner Show was live in technicolor as the Marquette big man had 20 points at a rate of 54.5 percent (6-11 FG) shooting from the field and eight points from the charity stripe.

Marquette also got production from two young bench players in the game as sophomore Steve Taylor Jr. had 14 and freshman John Dawson totaled 12 points in 31 minutes of action.

The Hoyas were led by their two star guards D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks who combined for 52 points on 17-35 shooting from the field and 8-13 from three.

How to Win: Marquette

You basically know ahead of time that Gardner is going to get his from the field, and of course, the big man will find a way to get to the free throw line. The question for the Golden Eagles is: who is going to step up?  That has lingered over this team all year long, and the answer has yet to come.

Jamil Wilson was looked at to be that guy, but inconsistent shooting from the swingman has made him difficult to rely on.  Most of the weight then lies on the scoring guards, Jake Thomas and Todd Mayo, who are going to be looked at to match the scoring production from the Hoya shooters, which they struggled to do in January.

If they can go tit-for-tat with Smith-Rivera and Starks, Marquette will be in good shape.

How to Win: Georgetown

GET THE BALL TO THE GUARDS. Starks averages 16.7 points per game and Smith-Rivera posts 16.8 a game.  Those are the only two eligible players for the Hoyas that average double-digit points.  They also have junior Jabril Trawick who scored 13 in their blowout win against Xavier on Saturday.  Trawick, at 6’5", causes a lot of matchup issues for teams especially like Marquette that have a surplus of smaller guards.

Moses Ayegba will be key for the Hoyas on the defensive end.  Ayegba only scored six points in their previous matchup, but totaled a season high 30 minutes as the Hoyas tried to slow down Gardner.

But if I have yet to mention it: give the ball to the guards.

Prediction:

Like I said earlier, both teams desperately need any and every win they can get, so fight should not be much of an issue on either side.  The key is the pace of the game.  Georgetown likes to slow it down and run their Princeton offense, while Marquette likes to get easy buckets in transition.

Ultimately I think this game is going to come down to toughness.  Both teams have been known to struggle from deep at times, so rebounding and loose balls will impact this game tremendously.  Just ask Georgetown; they used tough defense and rebounding to knock off at-the-time No. 7 Michigan St. despite shooting only 44.9 percent from the field and 2-12 from beyond the arc.

Georgetown 68  Marquette 71

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