Last season Purdue got its season off to a raucous start with defending champion Villanova coming to Mackey Arena as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. Our Boilers were Big Ten favorites, but this was billed as a game where Purdue could show it was a national contender too. We gave The Wildcats our best shot, but Caleb Swanigan and Dakota Mathias both missed tying 3-point attempts in the closing seconds and Villanova had a hard-fought 79-76 win.
At the time I was despondent. Yeah, we played well, but Villanova still had an answer. If we couldn’t win in Mackey Arena what chance did we have of beating a team of that caliber in March? I knew that we would likely have to at some point, and we needed the boost of doing it at home.
The stakes are not as high this time. We are on the road at Marquette in what could be considered the first “real” game of the season. The Golden eagles are good and have NCAA Tournament aspirations, but they are not at the same level as Villanova last season. Instead, this is the first really good test to see what we have this season, and it comes in the arena where we won a pair of NCAA Tournament games a year ago.
From: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Game Location: BMO Harris Bradley Center (20,000)
Time: 8:30pm ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: Boilermaker Sports Network
Odds: No Line yet
2016-17 Record: 19-13, 10-8 Big East (Lost to South Carolina 93-73 in NCAA Tournament First Round
Record vs. Purdue: 0-8
Last Purdue win: March 15, 1969 75-73 (OT) In NCAA Tournament
Last Marquette win: None
Blog Representation: Anonymous Eagle
NCAA Tournament History: 32 appearances, last in 2017. 1977 National Champions
Coach: Steve Wojciechowski (53-45 in 4th season)
It has been nearly 50 years since we have played Marquette despite being separated by only 219 miles. The last meeting with Marquette was a memorable one, as Rick Mount’s basket in the closing seconds of overtime sent Purdue to its first Final Four with a 75-73 win. Since then Marquette has been a respectable program. They won a national title in 1977 and reached the Final Four in 1974 and 2003. They were in the Elite 8 as recently as 2013.
Last season they squeezed into the tournament as one of the final at large teams and lost to eventual Final Four participant South Carolina by 20. They had losses to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Villanova as common opponents but did turn the tables and beat Villanova by 2 in the January 24th rematch when the Wildcats were No. 1.
This year they are led by Big East All-Freshman selection Markus Howard. He averaged 13.2 points and 2.3 assists per game last season and shot an impressive 54.7% from three. It is not like he was a selective shooter, either, as he did that on 150 attempts. He is only listed at 5’11”, but he is a deadly shooter and he had 11 in Friday’s season opening 80-59 win over Mount St. Mary’s.
Andrew Rowsey, a 5’11” senior guard led the team with 23 points this week. He is a prolific scorer that has scored 1,638 points in a career split between Marquette and UNC-Asheville. Last season was his first in Milwaukee and he averaged 11.6 points and 2.3 assists.
The Golden Eagles had two other players in double figures on Friday. 6’5” junior guard Haanif Cheatham had 13 points and 6’10” center Matt Heldt had 13 points and 5 rebounds. Heldt gives Marquette a unique feature we won’t often see this season, as he has the size and ability to play Isaac has one-on-one and at least hold his own. Yes, Haas is bigger, but Heldt is coming into his own this season and played 27 minutes on Friday.
Anonymous Eagle was very pleased with how Marquette handled turnovers in the opener:
#1 - Offensive turnovers were low.
Last year, Marquette was fine when it came to turnovers, ranking #86 in the country while turning it over a bit more than 17% of the time. The nature of Turnover Rate is that a little bit of a change means a big move in the rankings, and 16.2% would have been good enough for the top 40 last year. Haanif Cheatham and Theo John both coughed it up three times, but they accounted for more than half of the team turnovers.
#2 - Defensive turnovers were high.
Even though Jajuan Johnson was one of the best steals guys in the country last year, Marquette didn’t force a lot of turnovers last season. They did here, and that’s good. There’s a certain amount of “Mount St. Mary’s played five freshmen for at least 10 minutes a game” involved in this number, though, so don’t expect to see a 23%+ number all season long.
Overall this is a good team. They are expected to be an NCAA Tournament team, so this is a chance to get a win that will pay dividends later for our RPI, especially since it is a true road game. This is the loan true road contest we will played outside of the Big Ten. It is certainly going to be better than winning at Rutgers if we win. I would say this is like playing a first or second round NCAA game. They are good enough to reach March and win a game, so it is far from an automatic victory. A seasoned Purdue team finds a way to win though. Purdue 74, Marquette 67