After going toe-to-toe with Villanova on Wednesday, the Golden Eagles of Marquette are making their way down to Cincinnati on Saturday for an afternoon affair with the Musketeers of Xavier. With being spoilers against Providence and near spoilers against Villanova, this Saturday's game could present the golden opportunity for the upstart Golden Eagles to swoop down on Xavier for an upset win.
Xavier on the other hand have been up to business as usual this season, winning their last three straight games following their conference opener loss to Villanova. During this three game stretch, the Musketeers have been able to manage even with the absence of Edmond Sumner from the roster. Its a loss no more though as the Musketeers can expect Sumner to take the court this weekend against Marquette, albeit for limited minutes instead of a full forty.
Heading into Saturday, both teams can get a big boost for a season with a win. For Xavier it will just continue their dazzling season, whereas for Marquette can move them up the conference ladder and into the larger conversation.
How to watch, listen, or stream
Game time: 2 p.m. ET
Stream: FOX Sports GO (Where available)
Line: Heading into tomorrow, Xavier have opened up as 7 point favorites against Marquette (via OddsShark). They are 6.5-point favorites just about everywhere else, though. Choose wisely.
Record ATS: Marquette 7-9 || Xavier 11-5.
Three things to watch
1. Oh Henry!: If you have yet had the chance to watch Marquette's Henry Ellenson play this season, this Saturday is your chance to see the freshman phenom hit the court at the Cintas Center. Ellenson has been an anchor this season for Steve Wojciechowski's youthful team averaging 15.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game.
He is also averaging the most minutes on the floor for Marquette at this time, roughly 32 minutes. Add in the likes of Traci Carter and Haanif Cheatham to what Ellenson has accomplished this season and MU has been humming along so far in conference play, often keeping teams on edge. It would not be surprising over the course of this game if Marquette were to hold onto a lead at some point or give Xavier an outright run for their money.
It has been youth in revolt this season for Marquette and against Xavier is another chance to showcase their upstart talent.
2. Here comes the Sumner: Edmond Sumner will be making his return back to the Xavier roster on Saturday following a three absence due to head injury sustained from a nasty fall in the Musketeers' conference opener against Villanova. While Xavier have continued marching on without Sumner in the three games leading up to Saturday, he brings back an added boost in the lineup for Chris Mack.
Prior to his injury Sumner's averages so far this season were 11 points, 3.2 rebounds, and a near team leading 3.1 assists per game. He will most likely be playing limited minutes on Saturday, but it is a welcoming return for the Musketeers.
3. Turning over: This game could end up coming down to possession and potently who can handle the ball with greater care in transition. The Golden Eagles have lived and died by turnovers this season as it has often reared its ugly head at crucial moments. Haanif Cheatham has often been suspect so far this season with regards to turnovers, as he has been averaging 2.8 turnovers per game.
On the other side of the ball, the Golden Eagles have been swarming at the ball as well, Traci Carter has led the way this season with a total of 29 steals. Along with Carter, three other players on Marquette have also reached the twenty mark in steals as well.
Xavier on the other hand has been fairly competent with the ball so far this season. The only player who has been in turnover trouble for the most part has oddly enough been Edmond Sumner, who as already mentioned has not played the last three games due to injury.
On the season Sumner has been averaging 2.5 turnovers per game. On the other side, both Trevon Bluiett and Jalen Reynolds have been leading the Musketeers in swipes this season, both with 17 apiece.
Both teams will be looking to get at the ball early on, there is no denying that fact. For Marquette that will most likely mean forcing Xavier into awkward spots on the floor, all awhile keeping extra care on offense. Xavier will most likely try to force Marquette's hand early on, taking advantage of their youthful inexperience.
In the end it should be a fun game as both teams have a serious stake in the outcome.