The sixth-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles will take on the 11th seeded Seton Hall Pirates in the opening round of the 2008 Big East Championship on Wednesday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 8pm CST on ESPN.
Marquette beat the Hall twice during the regular season. At the Bradley Center in January, MU outlasted the Pirates in an ugly, low-scoring affair, 61-56. Home cooking was no better for the Pirates as MU raced out to a 30-10 lead and never looked back, coming away with an 89-64 win.
Seton Hall arrives at MSG in a world of hurt. The Pirates have lost three in a row and eight of ten, including a gut-wrenching loss to rival Rutgers to close the regular season. The RU loss threw SHU head coach Bobby Gonzalez for a loop, leading to a series of embarrassing remarks during and after that game.
Perhaps Marquette can take advantage of the death spiral that is building around the Pirates' season. The Golden Eagles (22-8, 11-7) finished the conference season with back-to-back losses, and will look to recapture the momentum that carried the team to a five-game win streak through much of February.
The most interesting matchup pits Dominic James against SHU's resident thug, senior guard Jamar Nutter. It was Nutter who delivered a harsh intentional foul on James back in January, a collision that injured the Marquette point guard's wrist hindering his play for weeks. Nutter continued the rough play with a forearm shiver to James' chops during the Hall's embarrassing home loss to MU, earning an ejection from the game. Will Nutter go for the three-peat?
For a quick reminder on how MU won the first two meetings, look inside the numbers:
- Seton Hall numbers recap, Game 1 where MU won despite one of its worse offensive performances of the season.
- Seton Hall numbers recap, Game 2 where MU delivered a devastating offensive performance highlighted by Yeoman's work on the offensive glass.
- Seton Hall protects the ball exceptionally well, turning it over just 16.7% of the time -- good for 9th in the country. Meanwhile, MU forces opponents to cough the ball up nearly 25% of the time. If MU wins the turnover battle, the path to victory will be clearer.
- The Pirates are a middle of the road offensive team, only generating an eFG% of 48% - - 228 teams are more efficient than the Hall.
- Defense continues to be a problem for the Pirates who allow opponents a horrendous 51.6% eFG percentage (248th in the nation). Moreover the Hall cedes the glass with little fight - the Pirates are 314th in the nation in preventing offensive rebounds.
- Marquette game notes
- Big East Basketball Report preview
- Asbury Park Press
- Chicago Tribune preview (hello DePaul fans!)
- Star-Ledger preview focuses on Eugene Harvey
- Rosiak on the Nutter/James drama
- The Buffalo News profiles the maturing Lazar Hayward
- BIG EAST CAST delivers an outsanding podcast preview of the BET