Marquette has been a thorn in the side of Providence for a while now and even last year, PC needed double overtime to dispatch the Golden Eagles at home. So what will happen this year at the Dunk? Our Fearless Forecasters take a guess:
RPI-wise, there is only one more dangerous game on Providence’s schedule and this is it. A loss at home to last place Marquette would be considered a bad loss by just about anyone, however, a case can be made that the Golden Eagles are better than their record. Still, the Friars would be well served by taking care of business against a team that they should, by all accounts, beat. True, PC lost to Marquette earlier this season, one of Marquette’s three league wins, but that was at the Bradley Center, a hall of horrors for the Friars. In this one, the Friars are at home but do have a few concerns. While Luke Fischer is Marquette’s only real size up front, Carson Desrosiers is day-to-day and has missed practices this week. His availability and how well he can perform will be a key. LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn will need big bounce back games and Dunn and Kyron Cartwright will have to perform well against athletic defensive pressure. Matt Carlino has returned and while the Golden Eagle’s performance in their last game against Butler was poor, having a game under their belt with Carlino will help. This game could truly go one of two ways. The Friars could be laser sharp and blow Marquette out of the building. Or, Marquette could be its usual pesky self against PC and hang around all game. I’m going to go with the latter, but PC will make plays down the stretch and survive a tight game.
Prediction: Providence 70 Marquette 62
Marquette is better than their record. Their team has struggled to win games in the Big East, but the Golden Eagles have 3 quality newcomers in Luke Fischer, Sandy Cohen III, and Duane Wilson who are athletic, can score, and improving. They also have the senior leadership of Juan Anderson and the playmaking of transfer point guard Matt Carlino. The team moves the ball well, and has a few players who can dribble drive. They lack size outside of Fischer, but they use their harassing defense to force turnovers and get easy hoops in transition. This presents problems for Providence who has already lost to this team and others with quick slashing wings.
Kris Dunn and Kyron Cartwright struggled mightily with ball security in the game at Marquette, with 8 and 4 turnovers respectively. (PC had 17 overall) Coming off a game at Villanova where turnovers were a major issue, this makes Sunday concerning. Providence is a better shooting team, and has a size advantage, but was outrebounded at Marquette and the Friars took 8 fewer free throw attempts. Those numbers must be reversed in the rematch at Providence. Carson Desroisers is still banged up, but I expect him to give it a go. I think the home court will inspire the Friars to compete well, but I fully expect a dogfight given the matchups. Ed Cooley needs to prepare his team better to reduce turnovers, control the boards, get to the line more, and force Marquette to play from behind, putting pressure on them to make tough shots. Providence doesn’t necessarily need another regular season signature win, but they need to avoid a bad RPI loss in this spot. If the Friars can take care of business in this one, the last two games will simply be about seeding.
Prediction: Providence 72 Marquette 66
Marquette is a on 4-game losing streak and the Golden Eagles are currently at the bottom of the Big East standings at 3-12 in league play this season. Matt Carlino missed 4 games, including the team's win at Seton Hall on February 7th, with a concussion. Carlino returned to action in Marquette's last game at Butler and came off the bench for 10 points in 25 minutes. Luke Fischer led Marquette with 17 points in that 21 point loss to the Bulldogs. That was Fischer's second straight 17 point outing with the other coming in the team's loss at home to Villanova. With the Friars coming off an embarrassing dismantling on Villanova's Senior Night I fully expect the anti-Kentucky hangover to be in full effect. Ed Cooley will have his team ready and I'm expecting Kris Dunn to have a monster game on Bryce Cotton Bobblehead Day at the Dunk. Even if Carson Desrosiers isn't able to go due to his sore knee I still feel confident that Providence will take care of business against the Golden Eagles.
Prediction: Providence 73 Marquette 62
Marquette is quite clearly the worst offensive team in the Big East, and the gap between the Golden Eagles and the Seton Hall/Creighton duo is quite large. What's not as readily apparent is that Marquette's defense is actually quite awful, too. Though the Golden Eagles are just sixth in the Big East in defensive efficiency, they have been much worse than that in their current 1-10 stretch, and only DePaul has been worse since Jan. 24, a span of nine games. This is all to say that Marquette is very likely the worst team in the Big East, and Providence is playing them at home -- advantage Friars. We've already seen Creighton win at Xavier this year, but a Marquette win would be at least as unlikely as that upset. Matt Carlino may have gotten rid of the rust in the loss at Butler, and a Carlino explosion is certainly the biggest danger for PC, but even if Carlino is on target and even if there is a Villanova-blowout hangover for the Friars, Marquette is still unlikely to hang around for more than 30 or 35 minutes.
Prediction: Providence 68 Marquette 56
This is a blowout. Yes, Marquette beat us handedly at Marquette - but that's at the Bradley Center. That always happens. Like, even in a down season for them, not a surprise. Since then though not much has gone right for the Golden Eagles, and without a prayer of an NCAA hope, so I don't anticipate morale to be super high for Marquette coming in on Sunday. The biggest difference maker, in my opinion, is going to be Kris Dunn. Dunn was just starting to become the player he currently is, and I think that his ability to score will help the Friars tremendously this time around. My dark horse Friar for this game? Jalen Lindsey. He's creeping his way into better box scores with each game, and though not consistent yet, I have faith that he'll finally put it together. And that'll be a great thing for the Friars, who will need to find their scoring groove after a stinker against Villanova.
Prediction: Providence 74 Marquette 60
FEARLESS FORECAST: MARQUETTE
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