With Selection Sunday only a few days away, it’s time for the Big East Tournament to get underway. This means we’ll start with two first round games on Wednesday which involve the 8 vs. 9 matchup and the 7 vs. 10 matchup being the night cap. Let’s take a look at the latter of the two games.
In their final regular season game, the DePaul Blue Demons put up a real fight. At home against a top squad in Xavier, the Blue Demons nearly knocked off the top dog in the conference on Senior Day. But they came up short in a 65-62 loss. Ultimately it was Trevon Bluiett’s 22 points that were the ultimate difference in the contest. It was another classic case of DePaul playing so well and sticking with an opponent, only to lose their footing when it mattered the most. Another tough defeat for sure.
The loss put the Blue Demons’ final record at 11-19 with a conference record of 4-14. This also meant that it’s another year that DePaul finished in the cellar of the Big East standings. Despite being tied in terms of conference record with St. John’s, the Red Storm’s better overall record was the tiebreaker in this scenario. Now, the Blue Demons head into another year of playing the 7 vs. 10 matchup, as they look to try and win at least one game in the Big East Tournament.
Their opponents will be the 7th seeded Marquette Golden Eagles. It’s been an up and down season for them, as they seemed to have survived a horrible stretch in which they lost four games in a row and nearly saw their tournament chances go up in smoke.
According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, Marquette now stands as one of the First Four out, grouped in with the likes of Louisville, Oklahoma State, and Syracuse. So in order to feel a whole lot better about their chances, this is a must-win game for MU. Lose, and you pencil them out of your bracket come Selection Sunday.
It was an emotional final game for the Golden Eagles as they knocked off Creighton 85-81. Thanks to 26 points from Andrew Rowsey, the Golden Eagles were able to finish up their final game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in style. The win put their overall record at 18-12 with a mark of 9-9 in Big East play.
Like DePaul, they lost their tiebreaker and finished behind 6th-seeded Butler due to the Bulldogs having a better overall record. Thus, they missed out on a first round bye. With their chances of getting into the NCAA Tournament on the ropes, Marquette is in need for a run in MSG. But it starts with their game against DePaul.
How to watch, stream, or listen
Game Time: 9:30 PM ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: WIND 560 AM (DePaul) | 540 ESPN (Marquette)
Stream: Fox Sports Go (where available)
Odds: Marquette enters this contest as a 5.5 point favorite (via Oddsshark.com)
Record ATS: DePaul (16-13-1) || Marquette (15-14)
O/U: The O/U opened at 152.5
Last Time They Met
This will be the 123rd meeting between the two schools. But the series lead is not even close, as Marquette holds a commanding 75-47 advantage. However, this is a rare occasion in that this is only the third time they have met in a conference tournament. They split the season series this year with the home team winning in both cases. In their latest matchup, DePaul defeated Marquette at home 70-62 thanks to 20 points from Max Strus.
3 Things to Watch for
Can’t overlook DePaul
Even though they are the favorites in this game, and with Villanova potentially looming right after, Marquette can’t overlook this matchup. DePaul has been sneaky in some games this year, and they could catch the Golden Eagles napping. Remember, this is the same DePaul team that took a massive lead on Xavier on the road and nearly knocked off the Musketeers in their final home game.
Of course, we could also see the other end of the spectrum in terms of DePaul basketball, as well. However, nothing is for certain. Which is why it’s crucial that Marquette starts off the game on a dominant note. The more DePaul sticks in this game, the more they begin to believe.
Blue Demon defense
Last time in the preview, we talked about the DePaul defense in the Top 60 when it came to KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. Well, fun fact, they are still there. And not only that, they moved up! They gave up 66 points against a good Xavier team and it has seemed to have helped their rankings in a big way, as they hopped up to 43rd place with a mark of 98.3. The Blue Demons put forth a lot of effort on defense, despite the results not showing at times. Let’s if the energy is there against a Marquette team which loves to score and are one of the top teams in the country (13th in KenPom’s adjusted offense ranking)
Secondary scoring options for Marquette
Like I just said, Marquette loves to score.Their 81.9 points per game ranks 31st in the country and they have a Top 15 offense according to KenPom. They have relied on the duo of Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey, as they have averaged 20.9 and 19.9 points per game respectively. However, as the games become single-game knockouts and the stakes are exponentially raised, Marquette needs to give the duo some help. Guys like Sam Hauser needs to continue if not step up in terms of their offensive production. Basically, if Marquette wants to have a shot at making the NCAA tournament, they need to knock off DePaul and then Villanova. That will require having more than just Howard and Rowsey going off. A win over a top dog requires your secondary scoring options to show up.