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Sleeping with the Enemy: The Golden Eagles of Marquette

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After a heartbreaking double-overtime defeat to open Big East play, your undefeated-in-regulation Georgetown Hoyas return to action Saturday in Milwaukee at Marquette. Here as always for all things related to the Golden Terds are our friends at Anonymous Eagle, SB Nation’s resident Marquette experts.

Marquette! How are things going so far this season? Looked like you hung tough with Xavier in your Big East opener.

Things have been fine. The mighty Golden Eagles have been defeated in regulation four times already, however, they are undefeated in overtime. So that's fun.

The non-conference schedule hit the bare minimum requirement to be labeled a success, and given the disaster pile that Wisconsin has turned into, you can make the argument that MU fell one game short (the home loss to Georgia) of a positive experience.

As for the Xavier game, well, let me put it this way. I've got a Fitbit, right? And it's fancy enough to monitor my heart rate, right? Since it's stupid cold in Wisconsin right now, and I don't have a gym membership, and I had the day off from work so I didn't do anything else of note that day, those two-ish hours are the longest sustained heart rate activity of my day. All right in the "fat burn" category for two straight hours. Since I didn't really register any steps during the game, I'm pretty sure my Fitbit thinks I had a heart attack.

Yaaaaaaaay.

The Golden Eagles seem to have a potent offense as usual. Who's carrying the load right now?

The Marquette offense is currently reliant on three prongs: Markus Howard, Andrew Rowsey, and Sam Hauser. All three guys are capable of going ballistic from long range on any given night. For the time being, though, Rowsey and Hauser are the two more reliable shooters, with both guys knocking them down on more than 43% of their shots. Howard, after an absurd freshman year where he shot 57% on threes, has struggled to find his touch from distance, only shooting a perfectly acceptable 37% after his 1-for-8 outing against Xavier. He's balanced that out by becoming lethal with the floater in the lane, so that's why he's been scoring 20+ points a game.

While Rowsey is the distributor of the three (his assist rate is in the top 125 in the country via KenPom) and now the leading scorer after Howard's bad Wednesday night, it's actually Hauser that makes the offense go. His ability to confidently score from anywhere on the floor -- top of the arc, wings, corners, elbows, baseline, whatever -- is the most potent part of Marquette's offense, and it's probably not a coincidence that he had just six shot attempts in the loss to the Musketeers.

What have been the biggest strengths and weaknesses for Marquette so far this season?

As was the case a year ago, the biggest strength is the offense and the biggest weakness has been the defense. One is very very great, and the other is slowly killing this team's chances to be successful on a regular basis. It's going to sound goofy as hell, but there's strength in the weakness and vice versa as well. The defensive performance of this team was always going to be dependent on the contribution of four players: Sacar Anim, Harry Froling, Jamal Cain, and Greg Elliott. Now, I suppose you're saying "I've never heard of any of these chaps," and you are correct. Anim played 83 minutes as a freshman then redshirted last year. Froling played 146 minutes for SMU last year before transferring and only became eligible for Marquette three games ago. The other two are freshmen. The defense was always going to be reliant on those four figuring out how to help the team as fast as possible, and while it's still a work in progress, there's signs of improvement.

The weakness in the offense is that it is almost entirely situated in the hands of Howard, Rowsey, and Hauser. With Haanif Cheatham making a mid-year transfer to Florida Gulf Coast, Georgetown's favorite Florida school, there's nearly a 10 point drop in scoring averages between Hauser (14.9) and the next guy (Anim, 5.8). No one other than the Treys Amigos is a reliable scorer at this point, which is a problem when things like "Howard goes 1-for-8" happen.

So how do people feel about Steve Wojciechowski as a coach? Is there reason to believe he can build a team that can go deep in March?

Funny you should bring that up. The crazier end of the fanbase lost their goddamned minds on Wednesday night and headed straight into "I DON'T THINK THAT WOJO CAN ACTUALLY LEAD THIS TEAM TO GREATNESS" territory after losing by 4 (or even 7 if you want to ignore Greg Elliott's pointless buzzer beater three) to the #6 team in the country.

Yeah. That happened.

My read on this is that these are people who are still very confused as to why Wojo did not make the NCAA tournament until his third season after Buzz Williams made it in each of his first five seasons. (Spoiler alert: Buzz Williams stinks at evaluating high school talent and Tom Crean does not.) I suspect that these people also largely fall under the age of 30, and not to blame this on millenials or anything, but if you've been a Marquette fan since before MU joined the Big East, or since before Dwyane Wade arrived on campus, then missing a couple of NCAA tournaments here and there isn't really a world-ender.

Wojo has had to dig out from underneath the wreckage of a roster that was not prepared to compete in the Big East in the long term. If you throw out his first season which had a bad roster and was decimated by transfers and injuries, he's got a career record of 48-30. The Henry Ellenson team may have been two possessions away from the NCAA tournament. The signs are there that Wojo can assemble and coach a Big East contender (Hi, Joey Hauser) and by definition, that kind of team should be a team that goes deep in March. It might not be this team, though.

What do you think so far about Patrick Ewing and the cupcake-smashing, undefeated-in-regulation Georgetown powerhouse?

I believe you forgot to mention "blessed by Van Gundy." (Editor’s note: actually, it’s “beloved by Van Gundy.”)

So y'all are really going to revel in this "HEY LOOKIT WHAT OUR BEST PLAYER EVER IS DOING AS THE COACH PLEASE IGNORE THE HORRIFYING COLLAPSES IN OUR ONLY TWO GAMES AGAINST MAJOR COMPETITION" thing, huh?

Look, could you just not? You're making the rest of us look bad. The rest of the Big East is Clark Griswold, just trying to provide a wonderful Christmas for our family, and you're Cousin Eddie, out there in the street in your robe and probably nothing else, pumping your RV's waste into the sewer. If this all results in y'all kidnapping Mark Emmert in an effort to make everything better, I'm going to be very disappointed.

Well, slightly disappointed. Screw that guy.

Our family fulfilled a stereotype and had Chinese food for our Christmas dinner. What's your go-to Chinese food order?

I enjoy a good beef & broccoli. I know, I know, it's not particularly eye-popping, but regardless of where you're getting your Chinese food from, you can rely on getting something good with beef & broccoli. You know what's preposterous, though? Crab rangoon, and things of that nature.

As part of a holiday promo, Georgetown had somebody try to eat a hot dog with maple syrup on it. How do you think that might taste?

Atrocious and delightful. I'd absolutely eat that if there were a prize attached to it. The way I see it, I'm more than happy to pour maple syrup on chicken & waffles, and it's not that far of a leap from syrup on fried chicken to syrup on a hot dog in terms of flavor mixture. My only concern here would be that this was a boring-ass hot dog from the Capital One Center concession stand as opposed to a quality dog from a well maintained hot dog joint like Martino's or Dogg Haus here in Milwaukee.

Are you someone who sets New Year's resolutions for yourself? Is there a big one you're looking to check off in 2018?

Not really. I'm a believer in if you decide to make a change in your lifestyle, then just go about and do it, and you don't need to tie it to the start of the new year to get yourself jumpstarted properly. I am trying to argue with people on Twitter less, though.

Final score prediction?

Actual prediction: Marquette 83, Georgetown 71. I am, however, hoping that Marquette wins by 70 and ends the undefeated in regulation nonsense in hilarious fashion. If this game goes to overtime, I am probably going to have a nervous breakdown.