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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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No. 5 Marquette at No. 12 Creighton

Saturday, March 2 — CHI Health Center Omaha — Omaha, Nebraska

1:30 p.m. on Fox

UConn has dominated the discussion in the Big East this season as it looks to run it back in the National Championship, but Marquette and Creighton have quietly followed behind in the conference standings. The two programs have had different fates with the Huskies this year, with the Golden Eagles being smothered 81-53 while the Bluejays upset coach Dan Hurley and Co. in an 85-66 win last week.

So, which bird, or color, is better? With a look at each team’s stats, it’s hard to tell. Creighton averages 1.4 more points per game at 80.9, while Marquette allows 0.7 less points per game at 68.6. The edge can be found in the Bluejays’ 38.1 rebounds per game, thanks in part to senior guard Baylor Scheierman ranking second in the Big East. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles snag nine steals per game to pace the league.

NCAA Tournament bubble discussions for this matchup can be set aside with both teams firmly in the field for a Top 4 seed. With a win, Marquette could insert itself in the discussion for a No. 1 seed, especially if Arizona or Purdue slips up this weekend.

That’s easier said than done, particularly against Creighton’s three-headed monster of Schierman, junior G Trey Alexander and senior center Ryan Kalkbrenner. Each member of the trio ranks in the top six of the conference in scoring and combined for 43 points and 14 rebounds against UConn.

It’s hard to pick a winner between two teams of this caliber, but the 18,000 Bluejay faithful in attendance ought to allow Creighton to take flight and eke out a win.

Prediction: Creighton 76, Marquette 72

Bradley at Drake

Sunday, March 3 — Knapp Center — Des Moines, Iowa

2:30 p.m. on ESPN2

While Indiana State may be the Missouri Valley’s media darling this season, both Drake and Bradley are hot on the Sycamores’ heels — and have a realistic shot at stealing away the conference’s NCAA Tournament auto bid when Arch Madness rolls around.

Bradley, currently third in the MVC standings, is 21-9 overall and 58th in the NET rankings. That would be enough to dominate plenty of other mid-major conferences, but it’s not enough for an at-large bid. Which makes the opportunity to solidify a top-three seed — or, with a bit of luck, lock up the two seed — in the conference tournament even more important for the Braves.

Take how big this game is for Bradley for seeding, double it and that’s what this means for Drake. The Bulldogs still have a shot to best Indiana State for the number one overall seed in St. Louis after splitting the series with the Sycamores this year — but to do it, they’ll need some help. And if they can’t take care of Bradley, they can kiss that chance goodbye.

The biggest weapon for the Bulldogs? Junior G and forward Tucker DeVries. The reigning MVC Player of the Year is averaging 21.7 points per game this year, good for ninth in the nation. DeVries put up 22 points and nine rebounds in the away game against the Braves already this year, and with this being the return game in Des Moines, look for him to have an even bigger night.

Both teams need this one badly, but DeVries’ heroics will keep the Bulldogs’ hopes of the top seed alive for one more game.

Prediction: Drake 75, Bradley 72

No. 23 Gonzaga at No. 17 Saint Mary’s

Saturday, March 2 — University Credit Union Pavilion — Moraga, California

9 p.m. on ESPN

The Zags have found themselves ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since Jan. 11. This week presents a unique opportunity for coach Mark Few’s squad as it closes the regular season with the chance to grab two more Quad 1 wins, which is important as it is currently on the bubble in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology.

Gonzaga was 0-5 in Q1 games this season before it upset Kentucky, 89-85, at Rupp Arena on Feb. 10. Not only will it have a chance to improve to 3-5 in Q1 games by the end of the week, but by some miracle, it could snag the No. 1 seed in the West Coast Conference Tournament.

Again, there has to be a miracle for Gonzaga to snag the top seed in the conference. That’s not because the Zags don’t have a chance at beating Saint Mary’s on Saturday; it’s because the Gaels are two games ahead in the conference with their first matchup of the week being versus Pepperdine, and

Saint Mary’s decimated the Waves, 103-59, two weeks ago. All the Gaels have to do to stay on top of the conference is avoid an upset in Malibu, California. They’re also currently a No. 6 seed in Lunardi’s Bracketology. If they can win out — including the WCC Tournament — they could find themselves with a better seed come March Madness.

The last time these two faced off, Saint Mary’s scraped by Gonzaga, 64-62. However, the Zags have not lost since. Even with a matchup against San Francisco before facing the Gaels, Gonzaga needs a win at Saint Mary’s to get off the bubble.

Expect Few’s team to find a way to snag a win to keep its tournament hopes alive.

Prediction: Gonzaga 75, Saint Mary’s 70

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About the Contributors
Luke White
Luke White, Sports Editor
Luke White is a junior telecommunication media studies major and sport management minor from Round Rock, Texas. He has served as head sports editor since May 2023.
Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter
Ian Curtis is a journalism freshman from College Station, Texas. Ian has written about football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and more for The Battalion. Ian's work has also appeared in The Bryan-College Station Eagle and over the airwaves on WTAW and BCSball.com. 
Eli Meschko
Eli Meschko, Sports Writer
Eli Meschko is a journalism senior from Boerne, Texas, and is minoring in communication and sports management. Eli has covered football, men's basketball, baseball, softball, hockey and track & field. Eli also writes for Dave Campbell's Texas Football as an intern. After graduation, Eli plans on pursuing a career in sports media or public relations.
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