Fans of both teams have experienced the exhilarating highs and heartbreaking lows that come with college basketball.
Providence heads into this one on short rest. Barely more than forty-eight hours after a last-second loss to Xavier, the Friars will have to find a way to put that game behind them. Ed Cooley’s team has dropped two games in a row, seemingly clutching defeat from the jaws of victory each time. Last week, a late comeback effort tied the game with seven seconds remaining, only to see Creighton’s Christian Bishop slam home a wide open dunk in the final second. Then, it was Colby Jones who drained an uncontested three to put the Musketeers ahead by one with hardly any time on the clock.
Marquette has had more time to process their heartbreak. The Golden Eagles have had a week to reset and figure out what went wrong in the defeat against UConn, a game they led by as many as 18 points in the second half. The Huskies outscored Marquette 25-7 over the final ten minutes.
Still, one doesn’t have to look back that far to see both teams pulling off the same heroics that they have allowed. Just one game earlier, Marquette overcame a second half 18 point deficit at Georgetown. In non-conference play, the Golden Eagles stole one at the buzzer against then #4 Wisconsin thanks to put-back from freshman Justin Lewis. Likewise, the Friars beat Seton Hall and DePaul thanks to the late-game shooting of A.J. Reeves.
Reeves is no stranger to Marquette fans. Last season, his three at the end of regulation tied the game and sent Providence and Marquette to overtime. A high-scoring extra frame would go the Friars’ way, and they would return home from Milwaukee with a one point victory. Markus Howard’s 39 points were not enough for Marquette.
This time around, there’s no Howard for the Golden Eagles. No longer a one man show, Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski has four players scoring in double-figures. 6’11” freshman Dawson Garcia leads the team with 13.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Ohio State transfer D.J. Carton is scoring 11.1 points per game while also adding 3.8 assists. Seniors Koby McEwen and Jamal Cain are also scoring north of 10 points per game, making this the deepest Marquette team in recent memory.
The Friars, on the other hand, have been remarkably top-heavy. David Duke and Nate Watson run the show, combining to score more than half of the team’s points. Duke’s 30-point performance at Xavier has him over 20 points per game on the season. Duke and Watson are currently third and fourth in the Big East in points per game. A.J. Reeves has found his stroke after struggling early, reaching at least 9 points in the last four contests. Transfer Jared Bynum has run the point efficiently, averaging 4.5 assists per game. That’s the fifth best mark in the conference. However, Bynum missed the game at Xavier with a groin injury, and he’s listed as day-to-day. He did travel with the team, but it is unknown if he will play.
Fiserv Forum has been a house of horrors for the Friars historically, but recent history is on their side. Providence is 3-11 all-time at Marquette, but those three victories have all come in the last four years. This season, Marquette is 0-3 at home against Big East opponents, losing to Seton Hall, Villanova, and UConn.
Time and Date: Tuesday, January 12 @ 9:00 P.M. ET
Records: Providence (7-5, 3-3) | Marquette (6-6, 2-4)
Rankings: Providence (#57 KenPom) | Xavier (#54 KenPom)
TV Channel: FS1