Marquette Golden Eagles (22-8) -10.5, o/u 152.5 vs. Seton Hall Pirates (17-14), +10.5, o/u 152.5, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, 9:30 p.m. Eastern, Wednesday
by Oracle at Predictem.com
This is the time of year where the term “Cinderella” starts popping up.
This term is for all the underdog teams who go on a winning streak of unbridled proportions making their schools heard throughout the country. The Seton Hall Pirates are hoping the shoe fits for them.
At 17-14 on the year and a weak Big East record, they have no shot at an at-large bid as they go up against 24th ranked Marquette on Wednesday night during the first round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. The game will be aired on ESPN at 9:30 p.m. eastern time.
The Golden Eagles don’t have much to worry about because chances are they’ll be in regardless of the outcome against Seton Hall. That won’t stop them from trying to beat the Pirates for the third time this season, something that is challenging to do when they’ve been the favorite in each match up.
And they’re once again the favorites, with online sports bookies opening up with Marquette -10.5 over Seton Hall, including a 152.5 over/under. That number has already dropped dramatically, though, to 149.5 points.
Marquette comes into the tournament a No. 6 seed for the second straight year and they look to repeat its first round success it had against St. John’s last year with a victory against Seton Hall.
They beat Seton Hall handily the last time out, 89-64, one month ago, while the first contest was a closer 61-56 win. Marquette has been in a bit of a rut lately losing two out of its last three heading into the tournament, including an 87-72 loss at Syracuse on Saturday.
The Golden Eagles routed Seton Hall a month ago for a few different reasons, including out rebounding them 36-22 and getting off 24 more shots than the Pirates. Marquette could do no wrong by making 10 three-pointers, as four players finished in double figures led by Lazar Hayward’s 23 points and 9 rebounds.
The first contest between the two squads saw Marquette struggle mightily, including a 32.8% shooting night, but got four huge three-pointers and 12 points off the bench from Dan Fitzgerald to lead them to the win. Marquette did its normal dance, relying on someone different each night to step up and take over.
The Golden Eagles rely heavily on their guard play, as Jerel McNeal (13.6) and Dominic James (13.3) lead the backcourt and play pressure defense.
First-Team Big East player Brian Laing and his 19 points per game lead Seton Hall. He also average 7 rebounds, which is second best on the team. Laing has struggled all season against Marquette, though, scoring 17 and 13 points in both games on just 9-of-27 shooting (33%).
As far as this year is concerned, there aren’t many head-to-head trends that bettors can pull from the first two games. The over and the under both came in, and both teams covered the spread once.
The first contest saw just 117 points scored, so compare that to the 149.5 total at some online bookies, the under should be a good play for bettors. However, a sneaky trend for Marquette sees the over coming in 19 times in their last 26 games on a neutral court.
Seton Hall is just 11-15-1 against the spread this season, and haven’t covered well at all on a neutral site, going just 5-16 ATS over their last 21 games on even ground.
The Golden Eagles are the exact opposite, having a 5-2 record ATS in their last seven games at a neutral site.
If Seton Hall wants any shot at the NCAA Tournament, they’ll have to wipe away their Big East opponents and make a clean sweep of the Big East Tournament. It doesn’t help that they are stuck in the first round against Marquette. The Golden Eagles have shown vulnerability as of late, though. They’ve lost two of three and have given up over 77 points in their past three Big East games.
Oracle’s Pick: This is a pretty large spread considering the variables and the fact that Marquette isn’t playing well and doesn’t NEED to win this game. Marquette’s game isn’t as potent away from their home court either. We’re taking Seton Hall at +10.5.