As the first month of Big East play comes to a close, the Xavier Musketeers and Marquette Golden Eagles both likely find themselves longing for more success.
After running through nonconference play at 11-2, it looked like the best was yet to come for Travis Steele’s Xavier squad, as they had double-digit wins despite being inconsistent on offense for most of the nonconference slate. Unfortunately for Xavier, the offensive inconsistencies continued in Big East play, but the defense has also started to sputter, leading to a 2-5 start in the conference season, putting them in seventh place.
Marquette, meanwhile, have been all over the place in Big East play. After starting the conference slate 1-3, the Golden Eagles picked up three straight wins to improve to 4-3 (with one win coming over Xavier two weeks ago), before falling to Butler last weekend to fall to 4-4.
Wednesday’s game comes down to a couple key components. First, Marquette has to be able to hit three-point shots if they want to win. The Golden Eagles shooting a high-major best 39.8% from beyond the arc this season. Both Markus Howard and Sacar Anim have been exceptional from deep, with Howard shooting 40.6% and Anim shooting 42.5%. The flip side to all of this? Xavier is #36 in the nation in three-point defense, holding opponents to just 29.8% from deep this season. If the Musketeers can hold tight on the perimeter and force Marquette inside, they will likely have a good chance at picking up the win.
But, Xavier will also need to figure out how to stop Howard in general. Even if you’re able to limit him from long-range, he can still drive in, draw contact, and put up points in a hurry. The senior guard has scored at least 25 points in seven of Marquette’s first eight Big East games.
Perhaps the worst news of all for Xavier is the fact that both Quentin Goodin (knee) and Naji Marshall are game-time decisions, per The Athletic’s Shannon Russell. Marshall leads the Musketeers in scoring at 16.7 per game, and is second on the team in rebounds per game with 5.7. If both he and Goodin, a four-year starter, are out for the game, the Musketeers could be in some trouble.
How to watch or stream
Time: 7:30 p.m. CT
TV: FS1 (Where available)
Stream: FOX Sports Go