The Marquette Golden Eagles might not face a tougher opponent than the one that’s standing in front of them Wednesday night. Markus Howard and the Golden Eagles will be squaring off with the vaunted Kansas Jayhawks at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York as part of the Preseason NIT.
Marquette, 3-1 on the year, is coming off of a 74-55 win over the Presbyterian Blue Hose. But they struggled mightily at first in trying to put away the Blue Hose. It was all square at 26 at the half and they held a thin lead after the first 30 minutes of action. But they did eventually pull away, to their credit, and won by 19. Marquette’s lone loss was last week against the Indiana Hoosiers, a 2018 Gavitt Games matchup.
Kansas, meanwhile, has faced no real trouble this season. They defeated the Michigan State Spartans in the Champions Classic opener, and then soundly beat both the Vermont Catamounts and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. They have been running full force this season and look like one of the best teams in the country, to nobody’s surprise.
KU has been primarily led by the play of Udoka Azubuike. Dok has been terrific, having made 25 of his 37 field goal attempts early on in the year. He’s posted high rebounding% numbers, been efficient and is blocking a lot of shots. Expect to see him have a heavy presence in this game. Additionally, Lagerald Vick has been outstanding. He has made 62.5 percent of his first 24 3-point attempts and has eFG% and TS% numbers in the 80s.
Speaking of 3-pointers, Kansas has been spectacular from long range. They rank 7th in the nation in the early goings, having made 46.9 percent of their 3-point attempts. Vick has been the team b’s best shooter, but freshmen Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson aren’t too shabby themselves, either.
If there is one weakness so far, it’s on the perimeter, and it’s actually on defense. KU has let teams shoot the ball really well, to the tune of 38.8 percent. That should make a team like Marquette, who has an array of 3-point shooters at their disposal, salivate. MU’s shots aren’t really falling, as they have a 3-point percentage of 33.6 percent thus far. But perhaps playing the Jayhawks could help their cause. That’s not to say KU’s defense isn’t great but this does appear to be an early flaw worth capitalizing on.
Marquette isn’t favored to win this matchup as you might expect. Their win probability on KenPom is just 21%. Do they have what it takes to pull off the upset? Stay tuned and find out with the rest of us, y’all.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT
Watch Online: WatchESPN