Preview: Syracuse at Marquette
As recently as two days ago, a matchup between Syracuse and Marquette was set to be a showdown between two of the Big East's top three teams. But when the Golden Eagles host the Orange on Monday, they will do so with the loser likely out of the picture for the regular-season conference title. Syracuse and Marquette were tied with Georgetown for first place in the Big East entering last weekend, but losses by both teams on Saturday dropped each of them a game off the pace.
In addition to losing its spot atop the Big East standings, Syracuse saw its 38-game home winning streak come to an end. The Orange, who have lost three of their last four road games, will have a short turnaround against Marquette, which owns the country's second-longest home winning streak at 23. With the Orange set to join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, this will be the final Big East regular-season matchup between the two teams.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT SYRACUSE (22-5, 10-4 Big East): The Orange's offense, which has been an issue at times this season, posted its second-worst scoring total ever at the Carrier Dome in the 57-46 loss to the Hoyas. Syracuse is 4-4 over its last eight games and the conference's second-highest scoring offense has failed to top 58 points or shoot better than 36.7 percent from the field in three of those contests. Leading scorer Brandon Triche (14.7 points) has been held to fewer than 10 points in three of his last six games and is only 8-of-40 beyond the arc over his last seven contests.
ABOUT MARQUETTE (19-7, 10-4): The Golden Eagles rely on their bench as much as any team in the country, but key reserve Davante Gardner (11.6 points, 4.8 rebounds) is coming off his third two-point game over the last seven contests following Saturday's 60-56 setback at Villanova. Incidentally, all three games have resulted in Marquette losses. The Golden Eagles rank 11th in the conference in rebounding, but has outboarded each of their last three opponents by 13.3 per game. It's a stark contrast to the previous four games in which Marquette was outrebounded three times by nearly four per game.
1. Marquette's bench has outscored the opposition's reserves 757-368 this season.
2. Syracuse possesses the conference's best field goal defense and has yet to allow an opponent to shoot 50 percent this season.
3. The Golden Eagles are 14-0 at home this season and 53-13 against Big East foes in the Bradley Center.
PREDICTION: Marquette 68, Syracuse 64
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