When: February 19
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisc.
How to Watch: Fox Sports 1
Needless to say, Marquette needs this one. This 15-10 squad is not really even on the bubble at this point, but they just might put themselves on it if they are able to get their fourth win in a row on Wednesday night over the No. 11 Creighton Bluejays.
Creighton dominated the Golden Eagles on New Year's Eve when the two teams squared off in Omaha. The Bluejays won 67-49, and as they have shown all year long, they were not afraid to shoot from downtown. Creighton converted on 13 of their 35 three-point attempts in a game where they led for most of the contest.
Everyone knows what Creighton likes to do, but stopping them is a completely different story. But, Marquette was one of only five teams this season to hold the Bluejays under 70 points. And they are going to need to repeat that in order for them to have a chance.
The Golden Eagles might have to abandon their usual run-and-gun style to try and limit the amount of possessions that the Bluejays get. It’s simple math: the less chances they have to shoot three-pointers, the less three-pointers they will shoot. And believe me, you do not want to let them shoot threes. This is the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the country. While this is a rare style for Marquette to play, the Golden Eagles need to establish their post presence and in doing so, that should help set up their defense in order to at least contest the Jays' three-point attempts.
Players to Watch:
If you are going to watch this game, you will not really have a choice to but have your eyes glued on Doug McDermott. The senior Player of the Year candidate is averaging 25.9 points per game, shooting 51.0 percent from the field, and 44.0 percent from the perimeter. And yes, I think we can take away the candidate part because this guy is the best player in the nation and just continues to prove it. McDermott is coming off of a stellar 39-point performance against then-No. 6 Villanova, a game in which he was 13-of-17 from the field.
The Golden Eagles rely heavily on Davante Gardner to get hard-earned points in the paint, something he does very well. But, this team really thrives when they shoot the ball well from outside. Jamil Wilson did that very well last season, but has struggled this season despite better play of late.
Because of that, watch out for guard Jake Thomas. The transfer can be a sharpshooter when he is on, something Golden Eagle fans saw against Xavier on Saturday. Thomas scored 18 points on six three-pointers in that contest, and with a threat like that on the outside, it really opens up the middle. Not only for Gardner, but also for the drivers like Wilson and Todd Mayo. That in turn helps them get paint touches, and essentially, free throw attempts.
Marquette needs this one very badly, just as they have their last few games, while Creighton is just playing for seeding at this point. I think Buzz Williams will have Marquette ready to compete on both sides of the court, and this will be a close game much of the way through due to MU’s success on their home floor. But when it comes down to it, McDermott is just the best player out there, and he will make enough big plays to allow Creighton to pull it out down the stretch. I think this game will be lower scoring than the Bluejays are used to, but in Doug they trust.
Creighton 65 Marquette 61