March is already nine days old, but for most college basketball fans, the month doesn’t officially begin until conference tournaments get going. No. 7 Marquette will take on No. 10 St. John’s in the First Round of the BIG EAST Tournament tonight at 8:30 p.m. CT. The Golden Eagles look to continue their streak of quarterfinal appearances, which they’ve done every year since joining the conference in 2005-’06. St. John’s, meanwhile, hasn’t been to the quarterfinals since 2011.
BEST CASE SCENARIO FOR MARQUETTE
The Red Storm played Marquette better than any team they faced in conference this season, losing to the Golden Eagles by six and five points, respectively. However, Marquette makes up for those porous outings tonight and lays a beatdown on the conference’s worst team. The Golden Eagles manhandle the Johnnies’ defense, which allows more than 76 points per game,
Henry Ellenson, who averaged 15.5 points and 14 rebounds in the two matchups this season, surpasses that production. He finishes with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Luke Fischer handles Yankouba Sima with ease in his first game against Marquette this season.
WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR MARQUETTE
Despite appearing healthy and scoring 29 points on his injured ankle, Ellenson’s lower leg fatigue plagues his offensive game and he struggles from the field. Haanif Cheatham’s confidence is in the gutter after a scoreless outing against Butler and Fischer gets in foul trouble early against the unfamiliar play of Sima. Sima and Kassoum Yakwe control the low block and force Marquette to take outside shots, where the team has trouble finding consistency.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTIONS:
Dan Reiner: Marquette 92, St. John’s 70
Peter Fiorentino: Marquette 85, St. John’s 67
Michael Beiermeister: Marquette 79, St. John’s 63
Listen here: Marquette radio’s call of tonight’s game with Peter Fiorentino doing play-by-play, and Michael Beiermeister providing color commentary, with pregame analysis beginning at 8:15 p.m. CT.