On Sunday, February 20th, the Marquette Golden Eagles will travel to Omaha, Nebraska to play against the Creighton Bluejays. The last time these two teams met, Creighton won a thriller in Milwaukee after an Alex O’Connell buzzer-beater sent the game into its second overtime, which the Bluejays were able to win. Now, Marquette wants to avenge its home loss to the Bluejays with a convincing win in Omaha in front of a hostile environment.
How to watch Marquette at Creighton
Time: 3:00pm ET
Watch Online: Fox Sports Go
When I said that the game in Marquette was a thriller, it really was. Creighton was in the driver’s seat for most of the game, leading 44-27 with just a little before the U16 timeout of the second half. Then Marquette chipped away, eventually getting the game tied with just :40 left in regulation. This was, in large part, thanks to the 14 points that Oso Ighodaro was able to provide in just the second half. While the star of the show was Alex O’Connell, for draining a buzzer-beating three to tie and extend the game to a second overtime, Marquette could say that they were having their way with Creighton in the second half.
The Marquette Golden Eagles (17-9, 9-6) took that loss to heart, apparently, and have been rolling since. They are 9-3 in their last twelve, sweeping Villanova, beating Providence, and otherwise handling business the way you would expect a hot team to do so. They have been shooting the ball extremely well in conference play, shooting around 38.5% against Big East opponents, have shot the ball overall better than any other Big East team at 46.5%, and have one of the best in-conference offenses in the league at 75.3 PPG. Marquette has put themselves in a position for a high seed in the NCAA tournament, and a win today at Creighton would just add on to that tournament profile.
The Creighton Bluejays (17-8, 9-5) are, to be frank, not looking as hot for their tournament profile. Bad losses (like Arizona State) are holding them back, and while the Bluejays themselves are on a four-game winning streak, the upcoming five games are all Q1 or Q2 chances to build on that profile. Creighton, if they do end up getting to the tournament, will get there because of their defense, unlike prior years. Conference ranks put the Bluejays at first in opponent field goal percentage at 38.4%, first in two-point percentage at 42.4%, and first in three-point percentage at 29.7%. While the steals or forced turnovers are not as high as you might like, the Bluejays make it hard on any offense to score (with or without Arthur Kaluma, who has missed the last three games for the Bluejays).
Marquette is led in scoring going into today’s contest by Justin Lewis (16.8) and Darryl Morsell (12.6), but have eight scoring options with 5 or more PPG. Their leading rebounding is Justin Lewis with 8.0 RPG, and leading the charge in assists is Tyler Kolek at 6.0 APG. Creighton is led in the scoring column by Ryan Hawkins (13.9), Alex O’Connell (12.3), Ryan Kalkbrenner (11.5), and Ryan Nembhard (11.3), but Creighton might be without Arthur Kaluma (9.3), and as such only have five options with 5 or more PPG. Creighton’s leading rebounder is Ryan Hawkins with 7.5 RPG, and they are led in assists by Ryan Nembhard with 4.3 APG.
For Marquette to win…
…the Golden Eagles need to get Ryan Kalkbrenner in foul trouble in a hurry. The big man from St. Louis is the main reason why Creighton is preventing good looks from inside, and you will need all the scoring you can get against the Jays.
For Creighton to win…
…the Bluejays need to have Ryan Hawkins reach double-digits against a tough Marquette defense. Hawkins is averaging under 10.0 PPG when Creighton loses, but over 16.0 PPG when Creighton wins. Serious X-factor for Creighton.