Game two of Day Two of the Big East Tournament pits the No. 4 Marquette Golden Eagles against the No. 5 Seton Hall Pirates. Both teams enter the Tournament with a 10-8 Big East record, and are part of a four-way tie with Providence and Creighton for third place in the conference.
By virtue of tiebreakers, Providence earned the third seed by going 4-2 against the other three teams in the cluster. Creighton went 2-4 and got the sixth seed. Seton Hall and Marquette got the middle two seeds by going 3-3.
Marquette holds the higher seed over Seton Hall due to going 1-1 against top-seeded Villanova. Seton Hall went 0-2 against the Wildcats. Marquette will be the designated home team in Thursday afternoon’s tilt.
Marquette and Seton Hall split their season series 1-1, each team earning a three-point victory. Seton Hall beat Marquette 69-66 on New Year’s Day in Newark. Marquette got revenge on January 11 in Milwaukee with an 89-86 overtime win.
Time & Place: 2:30 p.m. ET, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: FS1 (Justin Kutcher, Jim Jackson, Steve Lavin, and Lisa Byington)
Radio: AM970 The Answer (Seton Hall; Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin), 540 ESPN (Marquette; Steve True and Jim McIlvaine)
Streaming: FOX Sports GO
Marquette opened as 2-point favorites. The over/under opened up at 110. Marquette is 16-14 against the spread, while Seton Hall is 13-16 against the spread.
Three Things to Watch
Marquette’s Three Point Barrage: The Marquette Golden Eagles enter the Big East Tournament as the best three-point shooting team in Division I basketball, shooting 43.0 percent on the year. Freshman Markus Howard leads the charge, shooting 55.1 percent from beyond the arc. Four other players are also shooting above 35 percent from outside.
Seton Hall will have quite a time maintaining that type of production. The Pirates were 7th in the Big East in opponent three-point percentage during conference play (36.0 percent). Marquette shot 40.9 percent (18-for-44) against them in their two games.
If Marquette continues to knock down threes and keeps the game uptempo, they will hold the advantage on Thursday at the Garden. Hot outside shooting will also open up opportunities for senior big man Luke Fischer, the team leader in PER (25.1) and win shares (3.5).
Can Seton Hall Set The Terms?: According to KenPom.com, Marquette plays at an adjusted tempo of 70.2 possessions per 40 minutes. That’s 80th-fastest in Division I. Seton Hall plays at 67.7 possessions per 40, 215th in the nation. Seton Hall’s first matchup against Marquette, the 69-66 win, had 70 possessions each. The second game, the 89-86 loss, had 79 possessions each.
Whoever controls the tempo controls the game.
Seton Hall will also need big games from their Big Three of Khadeen Carrington, Angel Delgado, and Desi Rodriguez. The trio accounts for 66.2 percent of the team’s scoring. If the three juniors can get going offensively and lead the team to another strong defensive effort, the game will be in their hands.
Playing For Seeds: With both teams picking up 10 conference wins in the formidable Big East, there’s a good chance Seton Hall and Marquette will hear Greg Gumbel utter their names as the bracket is revealed on Selection Sunday. At this point, it’s a matter of where they will fall.
The Bracket Matrix, a website that aggregates predictions from hundreds of bracketologists, has both Seton Hall and Marquette as 10-seeds heading into Thursday’s matchup.
A win could heighten either team’s chances at a better seed. The team that loses will have to spend three days fretting as the rest of the college basketball world controls their destiny.