For a team seeded No. 2 in the Big East Tournament, this opening matchup for 22nd-ranked Marquette is far from ideal. The Golden Eagles lost twice this season to seventh-seeded St. John's and hope to avoid another defeat Thursday at Madison Square Garden in the quarterfinals of this event.
Not only have the Golden Eagles lost twice to the Red Storm but they have lost their last four games overall. "We better try to figure it out," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said after a home loss to Georgetown in the regular-season finale. The Golden Eagles' late-season collapse gave the Big East regular-season crown to Villanova and left Marquette searching for answers with the NCAA Tournament on the horizon. St. John's disposed of DePaul 82-74 in Wednesday's opening round and likely could cement its NCAA Tournament berth with a win Thursday evening.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1 LINE: Check Intertops for the latest line
ABOUT ST. JOHN'S (21-11): The Red Storm beat Marquette by 20 in early January and by one in early February with Shamorie Ponds averaging 27 points and seven rebounds in the two games. Ponds had 18 points and seven assists against DePaul on Wednesday, while Mustapha Heron and Justin Simon also pitched in 18 points to help the team snap a three-game slide. Marvin Clark II added 10 points but is just shooting 6-of-23 in the last two games.
ABOUT MARQUETTE (23-8): The Golden Eagles boast the Big East Player of the Year in Markus Howard, who averaged a league-high 25.0 points and made 41.6 percent of his 3-point attempts. Howard was relatively quiet over his final five games during the regular season, however, shooting just over 35 percent from the field and barely over 31 percent from 3-point range during that stretch. Sam Hauser adds 14.8 points per game but, in his last three games, he has had performances of three points and seven points, shooting 1-of-7 and 2-of-11 from the field in those games, respectively.
1. Howard (90.2 percent) and Hauser (91.9) are both terrific foul shooters.
2. Marquette F Joey Hauser has one steal in his last 10 games.
3. Ponds was named to the Big East first team earlier this week.