Murray State Racers vs Marquette Golden Eagles: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: XL Center in Hartford, CT, USA.

When: Thursday, March 21st at 4:30pm EST.

How (TV/Radio): TBS; March Madness Live Stream on ncaa.com

Murray State Racers

Head Coach: Matt McMahon{Overall: 27-4, .871 W-L% | Conference: 16-2, T-1st in Ohio Valley}

The Racers return to the Big Dance after bowing out as a 12-seed last year against West Virginia. This is the program’s 17th appearance in the tournament and seventh this century.

Matt McMahon’s squad capped off an impressive regular season by winning the Ohio Valley Conference tournament. The Racers lit up the scoreboard all season long, as Murray State ranked 11th in the nation in points per game, while putting up 100 or more points in five contests.

Leading the OVC champs is uber-athletic sophomore, Ja Morant. The South Carolina native is one of the premier playmakers in the country, as he led the nation with 10 assists per game while averaging 24.6 points per game. His performance this year has led to him being listed as a top-five pick in NBA mock drafts.

Marquette Golden Eagles

Head Coach: Steve Wojciechowski{Overall: 24-9, .727 W-L% | Conference: 12-6, 2nd in Big East}

Marquette is making their 33rd tournament appearance in school history, and second in the Steve Wojciechoski era. The Golden Eagles have made some solid runs this decade, with three consecutive Sweet 16 runs under former coach, Buzz Williams, who is now at Virginia Tech.

The Golden Eagles ended their strong regular season on a relatively weak note, losing their last four games leading into the Big East tournament. Nonetheless, Coach Wojo’s squad has proven to be a tough challenge for their opponents this year as the ninth-ranked three-point shooting team in the country.

Like the Racers, Marquette is led by a talented guard in Markus Howard. The Big East Player of the Year ranked sixth in the country with 25 points per game, while ranking second in the Big East in three-point percentage at 40.8%. The Arizona native has also been money from the charity stripe this year, leading his conference with an 89.2% shooting clip on free throws.

Murray State Roster Notes

Murray State has no injuries or roster changes to report.

Marquette Roster Notes

Sophomore guard Greg Elliott is out for the season with a thumb injury and has not played a single game this season.

Head-to-Head: Shaq Buchanan vs Sam Hauser

Shaq Buchanan

Shooting Guard | 6-3, 190lb (190cm, 86kg) | Madison Central HS | Madison, MS | Senior

13.0 PPG | 1.8 APG | 4.2 RPG | 1.8 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 1.2 TOV | .471 FG% | .336 3P%

Sam Hauser

Forward | 6-8, 225lb (203cm, 102kg) | Stevens Point HS | Stevens Point, WI | Junior

14.9 PPG | 2.5 APG | 7.1 RPG | 0.6 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 1.4 TOV | .464 FG% | .401 3P%

Although these teams have explosive scorers in Morant and Howard, an NCAA tournament berth would not have been a reality if these stars did not get some help from their supporting cast. The secondary scoring options, in particular, have come up big for their teams and could be the difference makers in this game.

Leroy “Shaq” Buchanan has spent a good part of this season playing in the shadow of the talented Morant. The junior college transfer was one of the top defenders in the OVC this season, ranking in the top five in steals and defensive win shares. There is a big question mark regarding his inconsistent performance against power conference schools, given his 9 and 21 point efforts against Alabama and Auburn respectively.

When your second-leading scorer is the top three-point shooter and rebounder in the Big East, you know you have a weapon on your team. Sam Hauser has been nothing but a dual threat for the Golden Eagles, putting up strong scoring and rebounding numbers, particularly in hostile environments. His performance at Georgetown on January 15th can attest to that, as he hung 31 points on the rival Hoyas.

Murray State vs Marquette Predictions and Odds

Oddsmakers currently favor Marquette by 3.5 points over Murray State in Hartford. The majority of sports books have set the over/under for the game at 149.5.