The Big East Conference’s two marquee players will get to close out the quarterfinal schedule at the league tournament on Thursday in one of basketball’s most storied venues.
In the pairing of Marquette and No. 16 Seton Hall late Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the side attraction of note will be Marquette’s Markus Howard opposing Seton Hall’s Myles Powell.
The accolades already are coming as Howard and Powell, both senior guards, were named to the Sporting News’ first-team All-America squad. Both also were unanimous All-Big East selections.
Howard has been the top scorer in the nation for much of the season, and he enters his last Big East tournament ranked No. 1 at 27.8 points per game. The Phoenix-area product has scored at least 30 points in each of his past five games while leading the sixth-seeded Golden Eagles to an 18-12 record.
The Pirates have been less reliant on their No. 1 scoring option as Powell has delivered 21 points per game but has been no less effective. Third-seeded Seton Hall went 21-9 overall this season, but it enters the Big East tournament coming off a crushing 77-60 defeat at Creighton in the regular-season finale.
Another defeat to Villanova last week means that while Seton Hall can still say it is a 2019-20 regular-season Big East champion, it has to share that honor with both Creighton and Villanova. The consecutive defeats mean that the Pirates did not close out the regular season in top form.
“We’re not done,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said in a postgame radio interview after the loss to the Bluejays. “I’m going to give my team a hug, tell them how proud I am of them and get ready for March. I hope our fans understand how proud they should be of this basketball team.”
Powell has 2,252 points at Seton Hall, putting him 21 behind Nick Werkman for second on the schools all-time list. The school’s all-time leader is Terry Dehere at 2,494.
Marquette enters Thursday’s game following an 88-86 defeat to St. John’s on Saturday. The Red Storm tied for next to last place in the Big East. The last-place team, DePaul, also defeated Marquette 69-68 last week.
The Golden Eagles not only are on a three-game losing streak, but they have dropped six of their oast seven. And they have a quick return trip to New York after playing St. John’s there over the weekend.
“We just want to win,” coach Steve Wojciechowski said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’m not feeling pressure. Our guys are playing like there’s an incredible amount of pressure on them. I wish they would just compete.
“The only pressure is to play hard and to try to make people better. That’s it.”
In the most recent meeting between the teams, Seton Hall won at Marquette 88-79 on Feb. 29 when Powell scored 28 points. Howard had 37. Seton Hall also won 69-55 at home on Jan. 11 when Powell had 23 and Howard had 27.
–Field Level Media