Washington vs Marquette Picks – Close Call, but the Eagles Will Excel
There are few easy conclusions to be reached in the wacky and unpredictable world of the NCAA Tournament. Online betting gurus can perform ample research and still strike out when a single game gets turned sideways in March, due to the frailty of tender 19-year-old human minds that are subjected to withering scrutiny, overwhelming pressure, and throbbing surges of adrenaline. Perhaps Thursday’s first-round game between Washington and Marquette will confound the cognoscenti, but one thing does seem certain: This game will be close.
- What: NCAA Basketball Betting
- When: Thursday, March 18th – 7:20 PM ET
- Where: HP Pavilion – San Jose, CA
- Key Stat: Marquette has played 15 games this season that were decided by 5 points or fewer
The Washington-Marquette Storyline
Nothing is certain in life, but the sportsbook odds clearly suggest that this game between the 11th-seeded Huskies and the sixth-seeded Golden Eagles will go down to the wire in the heart of Silicon Valley. Computer geeks who love to print out reams of basketball statistics would probably agree that if Marquette is involved, a close game is likely to unfold. Coach Buzz Williams has a team that – after losing three primary scorers last season (Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, and Jerel McNeal) – is simply not equipped to blow opponents out of the water. If MU had a more up-tempo and free-flowing style last season with its abundance of playmaking talent, this season has forced Williams and the rest of the MU staff to play at a slower pace and grind out victories with defense. It’s been a long learning process, but the Golden Eagles have gotten the hang of things as their season-long journey has progressed.
Among the 15 white-knuckle games this team has played (as mentioned in the “Key Stat” above), the first seven did not treat MU very kindly. Marquette lost six of those first seven nail-biters and fell into NIT territory. However, the Golden Eagles learned to win in the heat of late-game combat and did much better in their last eight “ Maalox Mashers,” as analyst Dick Vitale would call them. Marquette won seven of its last eight close games to not only reach the NCAA Tournament, but snag a surprisingly high “six seed” in a bracket that most observers think was horribly mis-seeded.
Washington, for its part, was accurately seeded at 11, and the Huskies might have the confidence of a higher-seeded team after capturing the Pac-10 Tournament. If coach Lorenzo Romar’s team hadn’t won that event this past weekend, the Huskies would have been sitting in the NIT. This was one of the worst years for the Pac-10 in recent memory, so Washington would not have been able to tout impressive credentials as an at-large candidate. With that having been said, conference affiliation doesn’t matter that much anymore. UW is hungry and feeling full of itself; moreover, this game is on the West Coast, which has to be considered a plus for a lower-seeded team.
Both teams will be able to get good looks at the basket. Washington has a number of quick guards – Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton in particular – who can break down defenses with dribble penetration and create opportunities for their teammates, especially forward Quincy Pondexter. UW’s athleticism will challenge Marquette’s defense and force the Golden Eagles to make quick rotations and switches.
Marquette loves to shoot the three. The Golden Eagles rely on floor spacing and drive-and-kick plays to distort the shape of a defense and then generate open shots from the perimeter. Washington faced a three-point-happy team in California this past season – including this past Saturday’s Pac-10 final – so the Huskies have an idea of what to expect. Then again, they don’t know Marquette’s own variations on what Cal likes to do.
Betting Edge: Even
Sports betting fans should know that in the world of tournament basketball, it is much easier to slow a team down than it is to speed a team up. This is the element of the game which lies in Marquette’s favor. The Golden Eagles prefer to play at a slower pace, which means that if each of these teams are forced to defend for a full 35 seconds on the shot clock, Marquette will enjoy an advantage. The physicality of the Big East will favor MU if this game is indeed played at a slower tempo.
Betting Edge: Marquette
There are no significant injuries for either team.
Betting Edge: Even
Prediction: Washington vs Marquette Picks
This will almost surely be decided by five points or fewer, so it could go either way. With that having been said, Marquette now knows how to pull out the close ones. Golden Eagles by a deuce.