By Jack Belanger ’21
Marquette University will win the Big East Tournament next week due to the simple fact that it is nearly impossible to stop this team on offense. The Golden Eagles have too many weapons for any team to take away for an entire game.
A perfect example of the team’s depth on offense is when Marquette beat Providence College on Feb. 23. They had five players score in double-figures, with forward Sacar Anim (fourth on the team in scoring), who was tied with Sam Hauser for the team lead in points that day with 18.
Three of the team’s starters are shooting over 39.8 percent from the three point-line, including Joey and Sam Hauser who are shooting 45.5 and 40.1 percent, respectively. The team overall is shooting 40.7 percent from behind the arc, which is the eighth in the country.
It is also helpful to have one of the top candidates for Big East Player of the Year in guard Markus Howard. Howard has led the conference in scoring for most of the season and, with three games of 40 or more points, is certainly capable of taking control of a game. Having a guy who can create his own shot in games coming down to the wire can prove to be the difference in the final possessions.
While Villanova University is certainly also a contender to win the tournament, the Wildcats simply are not as dangerous as they were last season. The team lost its top four scorers to the NBA draft and has suffered through some inconsistent play this year, losing to weaker teams such as Furman University as well as University of Pennsylvania, and suffering through a three-game losing streak in the Big East.
These two teams have the best point differentials in the Big East with the Golden Eagles having the best at +9.2 with Villanova second at +7.9. While these have been the two best teams in the Big East, they are trending in opposite directions going into the final weeks. Since Jan. 28, Marquette has been ranked #11 or better. Meanwhile, in the same timeframe, Villanova has gone from #14 to being unranked.
While every team in the Big East will be a tough opponent come tournament time, regardless of how they finish in the standings, Marquette is playing at their best which will give them momentum over other teams. While Villanova has won three of the last four Big East Tournaments, this year, the Golden Eagles will outshoot and defend well enough to be the last team standing at Madison Square Garden.