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Xavier vs. Marquette preview

The Musketeers aim to sweep the Golden Eagles, who look for revenge after their early season matchup.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports


Time: 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT


Watch Online: FOX Sports GO

If you like fast-paced offenses and high-scoring affairs, then the Big East has something for you on Wednesday night. The Marquette Golden Eagles and Xavier Musketeers will meet for the second time this season. Their first affair in Milwaukee at the start of conference play resulted in a 91-87 victory for the Musketeers. Now, the scene will shift to Cincinnati, as Cintas Center will play host to two of the top offenses in the conference and the entire country.

Xavier (18-3, 6-2) is seeking to build off their current three-game win streak. The Musketeers fought tooth and nail with the Seton Hall Pirates over the weekend, before ultimately winning 73-64 in New Jersey. The 73 points scored were the lowest in a victory for Xavier since a 68-66 win over the East Tennessee State Buccaneers all the way back on December 16. The Muskies are usually proficient in scoring, having averaged 84.5 points per game in the 2017-18 campaign. That mark is good for 20th in the country out of the 351 Division 1 teams.

It’s hard to peg one player in particular who has helped Xavier over the course of this hot streak they’re on. But, if we’re going to, we can look at Kaiser Gate . The junior wing has been pretty dynamic off the bench over the last three games. Gates has scored in double figures in each of those aforementioned three contests. He’s put up 16, 11 and 10 and has shot the ball well, too. Kaiser has put up a mark of 12-for-19 from the field, which equates to a FG% of 63.1 percent. Overall, the Musketeers are getting it done with balance. In the last three games, they’ve had at least three players get into double figures, with six Musketeers doing so in their 92-70 win over Creighton back on January 13.

The term “static” couldn’t really be used as a descriptor for Marquette (13-6, 4-3 Big East) this season. They have been up and down since conference season started back on December 27. After opening with a loss to Xavier, they scored two wins over the Georgetown Hoyas and Providence Friars. Since then, the Golden Eagles have traded wins and losses, losing to the Villanova Wildcats and Butler Bulldogs and winning against Seton Hall and the DePaul Blue Demons.

MU’s offense certainly hasn’t been one of the team’s issues. The Golden Eagles rank 10th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, 17th in eFG%, 15th in 3PT FG% and 5th in FT%. Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey have both obviously been having terrific seasons. The dynamic duo has been producing torrential offensive output this season, with 3-point percentages of at least 38.9 percent. Sam Hauser has been even better from long range, posting a 3-point field goal percentage of49.6. That’s the 21st-best mark in the entire country, so Hauser is not only great from a Big East perspective, but a national one, too.

Defensively, the team’s average output hasn’t yielded as much success as they would like. With that said, they don’t have any bad losses. The team just needs a lot more good wins. Their best win to this point is against Seton Hall, which is plenty fine. But they’ll have to shoot for the stars if they want to assure themselves a postseason berth. That can start Wednesday night against Xavier, for sure.

This game will likely produce a lot of points. It will likely see the stars (Howard, Rowsey, Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura) show out. The game will generate a lot of excitement. Who comes out on top? Time will tell.