Georgetown has won a record seven Big East tournament titles while Marquette has yet to reach the final in its first four years in the conference. Both, though, came through with upsets that may have them starting to think about winning the crown.
The No. 22 Hoyas look to reach their third championship game in four years Friday night when they meet the Golden Eagles at Madison Square Garden.
These teams have met once in the tournament, with Georgetown (22-9) winning 62-59 in Marquette’s debut in the event in 2006. Another matchup this year seemed unlikely entering Thursday’s quarterfinals as they both faced opponents to which they lost twice in the regular season.
The Hoyas, though, shot 57.9 percent to beat third-ranked Syracuse 91-84 before the Golden Eagles (22-10) made 11 3-pointers to defeat No. 10 Villanova 80-76.
Georgetown has won three straight after losing four of five as it gets ready to try to end a three-game losing streak to Marquette.
“It’s definitely a confidence boost,” said guard Chris Wright, who scored 27 points against the Orange. “I don’t think this team lacks confidence. I just think we’re ready to play.”
Wright is averaging 19.8 points in four games this month.
Georgetown also got a strong effort Thursday from All-Big East first-team selection Greg Monroe, who made 6 of 9 shots for 17 points to go with 10 rebounds and seven assists.
“Everyone knows Greg is an unselfish player,” coach John Thompson III said. “(He) had a terrific game without getting a lot of shots.”
The smaller Golden Eagles have done a good job of limiting the 6-foot-11 Monroe during their three-game win streak over the Hoyas. He’s averaging 11.7 points with a total of seven assists in those games, and he had nine points in a 63-59 road loss Jan. 6 in the lone meeting this season.
Marquette has won 11 of 13, including two close victories in this tournament to improve to 7-1 in its last eight decided by four points or less. The Golden Eagles held on for a 57-55 win over St. John’s on Wednesday before recovering from blowing an eight-point lead with 4:54 left against the Wildcats.
Lazar Hayward scored 20 points in both games, and made the big shot Thursday with a tiebreaking 3-pointer with under 2 minutes left.
“I just shot it and it was a rhythm shot,” Hayward said. “Coach never gets mad if we shoot rhythm 3s. It went in and it definitely was a big momentum swing for us.”
Hoyas guard Austin Freeman has scored a total of 24 points in two games in the tournament and has started three in a row after being diagnosed with diabetes last week. There appears to be no restrictions on Freeman to play three straight days.
“Physically he’s at a point where as long as we’re monitoring and he’s monitoring his levels, he’s fine,” Thompson said. “And I think we’re fortunate because we have specialists with us sitting right on the bench behind the bench at every practice, every game.”