There is a first time for everything. Whether the Marquette Warriors (27-6, 20-12-1 ATS) or the Xavier Musketeers (25-5, 18-14-1 ATS), win it will be the first conference title for the school.
The Golden Eagles will play in their first Big East tourney final. Xavier, the #2 seed, lost to Villanova in 2015’s final. This was the school’s only previous finals appearance.
Since West Virginia’s 2010 win, there has not been a winner for the first time.
This game is a draw for the oddsmakers. Marquette is a 1.5-point favourite. The Golden Eagles were the betting choice in the five previous games and went 1-4 against the spread.
On Friday, the Golden Eagles sent the UCONN Huskies packing via a 70-68 semifinal victory. A balanced scoring attack helped to key Marquette’s win. Guard’s Tyler Kolek and David Joplin, both the team scoring 17 points each. Guard Kameron Jones (14 points) and forward Olivier Maxence-Prosper (11) also counted double digits in points.
Marquette rates among the top 20 in the nation in field goal percentage (49.18%, ninth). On the other hand, the Golden Eagles are 259th in defensive field goal percentage (44.84%) and 213th in scoring defense (71.28). Rebounding the ball is also an issue. Marquette is 260th in offensive rebounding (8.97 rebounds per game and 320th in defensive rebounding (22.84 reg).
Second-seeded Xavier jumped to a 14-point halftime lead against #3 Creighton and never looked back. The Bluejays were whipped 82-60 by the Musketeers.
Sidney Boum, a Guard, led the way scoring 23 points. Guard Colby Jones had a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Forward Jack Nunge scored 17 points, while Desmond Claude added 11 from the bench.
Xavier kept Creighton at 37.5% from their field defensively. While winning their fifth consecutive game, the Musketeers held a lead of 40-24 in points in the paint.
These two teams played and split to close games this year. The Musketeers won 80-76 in Cincinnati on January 15th, a month later Marquette returned the favor beating the Musketeers at home 69-68.
Xavier will win this game based on their physicality and solid backcourt play. Marquette will need to play well down low to win this game and I think that Xavier will be to physical for them.
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