Simply “pumped” is not an adequate term to describe the demeanor of Marquette fans on this glorious day. We’re uncontrollably ecstatic. Hell, I may even punch someone. I’m sure someone’s already done it, and whoever did probably had a pretty good reason in doing so. Why? BECAUSE WE PLAY CREIGHTON AT HOME TONIGHT IN THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE SEASON/CENTURY!!!!!!!
Alright. Deep breaths. If you weren’t previously informed on background information, here’s a few reasons why tonight’s game is easily the biggest game of the season thus far:
Combination of Cruciality, Timeliness and Quality of Opponent
This game is an enormous opportunity to turn this lost season into something more interesting. We’re currently on a three game winning streak with a so-so win over Butler, a better one over Seton Hall and an overall good one over Xavier. However, none of those victories would compare to one over the Creighton Bluejays – who are not only the 11th-ranked team in the country, but arguably the best team in the Big East. With a win tonight, we’d 1) officially be on a legitimate hot streak, 2) acquire our best win of the season, and 3) be doing all this near the end of the season, which builds both our tournament resume and momentum. Since we’re aiming for the tournament, losing would blow a huge opportunity to launch ourselves into “bubble” discussions, making it an even steeper climb to March Madness. So, yeah. We gotta #BeatCreighton.
Cruciality Part II: Extended NCAA Tournament Edition
In this article, we wrote that there are two ways for Marquette to get into the NCAA Tournament: simply win the Big East tournament, or go 6-2 in their last 8 regular season games, along with picking up a handful of quality wins in both the Big East tournament and regular season. So far, Marquette is 2-0 and picked up a good win on Saturday over Xavier – and although there are numerous upcoming chances for quality wins (specifically against Georgetown, Providence, Villanova and St. John’s), this matchup is far and away the best opportunity we’re going to get.
If you don’t remember what happened the last time we played Creighton, you’re in a state of mind that many Marquette fans envy. I too wish I could forget the 18-point beat down we suffered in the opener of the new Big East, but there’s a chance the memory gets tossed out the window if we win tonight. A victory of any sorts would do wonders to the confidence of the players, coaches and fans, and thus build up momentum heading into the postseason.
Now that you’re acquainted with the cruciality of the game, here’s a list of what/who to watch in tonight’s matchup:
Jamil. Just watch Jamil.
- Remember when Jamil was a horrendously disappointing player? I do, too. But look at his stats in the last three games:
- …Absolutely incredible stuff. If he can keep up this type of play as the season winds down, Marquette immediately turns into the dangerous team we once thought they were.
Doug McDermott, AKA Dougie Buckets.
- Oh, yeah, him too. The matchup with him and Jamil should be interesting, as Jamil’s defense held McDermott to (only!) 19 points on 7-15 shooting and 7 rebounds in the last game against the Bluejays. Jamil also racked up defensive stats in that game, accumulating 3 blocks and one steal. There’s no way we’re holding McDermott anywhere under 10 points tonight, or even 15, so if Jamil can force a sub-50% FG, sub-22-point game out of McDermott, that’d be phenomenal. Otherwise, we’d just have to keep up with him on offense, which is a situation that has “Bluejays blowout win” written all over it.
Marquette Players on the Floor
- Paint Touches lays this one out nicely in this article – but to shorten it up, Marquette has been outstanding with the three-guard lineup of Derrick Wilson, Thomas, Mayo, Jamil and Davante on the floor, and subpar with nearly every other combination. It’ll be interesting to see if the trend keeps up and especially if Buzz uses this new combination to his advantage tonight. Since Creighton also deploys a similar three-guard lineup, using this new combination should help us guard the perimeter with more ease. Oh, and speaking of perimeter defense…
Our Perimeter Defense
- Will Creighton light us up from beyond the arc again, like they did last time when they sunk thirteen 3s?
- Will we shoot 35% from the field and 2-12 from three again? Or will Jake Thomas follow up his insane performance against Xavier with another solid shooting night?
Ah, so many questions and so few answers. The only way to know will be to watch the game at 7:00 pm CT on Fox Sports 1. Oh, and lastly: #BEATCREIGHTON!!!
Prediction: We’re tired of being pessimistic. 76-71, #mubb. Yeah, that’s right. Five. Point. Victory. Sue me.
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