Georgia and Marquette have played only twice in history, with the latter taking both of those contests, and the Bulldogs will look to get revenge as they travel to Milwaukee on Saturday.
Georgia brought back a ton of talent in the form of Yante Maten, who was selected to be the Co-SEC Player of the Year along, as well as Rayshaun Hammonds, who was the 5th-highest rated player in the state of Georgia from the 2017 recruiting class.
Marquette returns Preseason All-Big East Second Team team point guard Markus Howard, as well as the top Marquette scorer from last year’s UGA game in Sam Hauser, and was selected to finish fifth in the conference.
The Bulldogs are currently 5-1 on the year, with wins over Bryant, South Carolina Upstate, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Cal-State Fullerton, and an overtime victory over then-No. 21 Saint Mary’s, with their one loss coming to San Diego State.
The Golden Eagles are 4-2, with wins over Mount Saint Mary’s and Eastern Illinois in overtime, as well as Maui Invitational victories over VCU and LSU. Their losses came at the hands of Purdue and Wichita State, two likely tournament teams when March comes around.
Let’s take a deep dive into players to watch, keys to victory for both sides, and a prediction for the outcome of the game.
Players to Watch
Yante Maten (Georgia)
This pick is one of the easiest picks to make for Georgia, simply because Maten does it all and more for the Bulldogs.
Averaging nearly a double-double with 18.3 points and 9.5 rebounds this season, he is one of the top post players in the country, and Georgia needs every single point and rebound that he produces on a night-to-night basis.
Even more remarkably, Maten has added a 3-point shot to his game, taking over three of them per game at a 33.3 percent clip, which adds a whole new dynamic that makes him more dangerous to opposing defenses than ever before.
Maten also averages over one block per game and one steal, which shows that he is capable on the defensive end of the floor to make plays and disrupt what opposing teams do.
William Jackson II (Georgia)
The other guard across from Juwan Parker in the Georgia starting backcourt, Jackson has seen a definite increase in his workload with the departure of J.J. Frazier.
Jackson has taken that increase in minutes in stride, posting career highs in points, assists, and rebounds per game, while seeing increases in his efficiency numbers as the starting point guard.
He will also line up across from Marquette’s leading scorer and point guard, Andrew Rowser, so his role as the primary defender will be very important to the success of Georgia in this contest.
Markus Howard (Marquette)
As the starting point guard, Howard is truly a facilitator for the entire offensive end of the floor.
Averaging 17.7 points per game on a 60% three-point attempt rate and 60.9% true-shooting percentage, he lights up the scoreboard on a consistent basis for a Golden Eagles offense that has hit the most 3-pointers in the Big East this season.
Howard’s impact as a leader and scorer are incredibly valuable, and his matchup with Juwan Parker will be one of the most important matchups in the game.
Sam Hauser (Marquette)
Marquette’s leading rebounder and top shooter, Hauser will be charged with the task of guarding Maten on the defensive end, as well as being the stretch four on offense.
At 6-7, Hauser is the second largest player in the starting lineup for the Golden Eagles, and with Derek Ogbeide occupying Matt Heldt as the center position, it’ll be up to Hauser to attempt to contain Maten’s extreme offensive impact.
On the offensive end, Hauser is shooting 47.1 percent from 3-point range on over six attempts per game, which is his definite strength for the Golden Eagles.
Finding a way to stop Maten is one of the most important keys to Marquette’s gameplan, and Hauser will be crucial to that effort coming to fruition.
How Georgia Can Win
The Bulldogs need to find a way to prevent Rowser from getting to the line at a high rate.
Rowser is averaging 9.2 free throw attempts per game, which is 15th most in the entire country and highest in the Big East. In Marquette’s win over LSU, he attempted and made 16 free throws, which single-handedly changed the outcome of the game in his team’s favor.
Limiting Rowser’s free throw attempts will be very important to Georgia’s success in this contest.
How Marquette Can Win
Maten is Georgia’s most dynamic player, so finding a way to slow him down by double-teaming him in the post or playing a zone is a key to Marquette’s success.
His pedigree proceeds him nationwide, so the focus of Marquette’s defensive plan will be to make someone else beat them offensively.
If Maten can be neutralized, the Bulldogs don’t have a lot else to throw at the Golden Eagles offensively.
This matchup is very even across the board, so there has to be another factor to differentiate the two teams.
Look for Maten to have a solid game, as well as the two-headed Marquette backcourt of Rowser and Howard.
If this game were in Georgia, I would be more inclined to pick the Bulldogs, but I’ll give the edge to Marquette in a close contest.
Prediction: Marquette 78, Georgia 71