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No. 5 Marquette vs. No. 12 Murray State: Game Time, Channel, Announcers, Prediction

Ja Morant taking a shot in a game for Murray State.

MURRAY, KY - FEBRUARY 09: Ja Morant #12 of the Murray State Racers in action against the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars in the first half of the game at CFSB Center on February 9, 2019 in Murray, Kentucky. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

This Friday, the fifth-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles will face the No. 12 seed Murray State Racers in the first round of the West Region in Hartford. The winner will take on the winner of No. 4 seed Florida State and 13th-seeded Vermont.

Preview: After a year in the NIT, Steve Wojciechowski's Marquette Golden Eagles are back in the NCAA Tournament. This is the second bid for the program since the former Duke star took over the job in 2014, following Buzz Williams' departure to Virginia Tech. This year, the team finished second in a crowded Big East, and they enter the tournament at 24-9 overall.

The Golden Eagles were looking like a potential top four seed before dropping five of their last six entering the Big Dance, including an 81-79 heartbreaker to Seton Hall in the Big East semifinal. Markus Howard is one of the true stars of the region, with 25 points per game. He's a high-volume shooter, but knocks down over 40-percent of shots from three-point range, and is a big asset at the free throw line at the end of games.

As for Murray State, the Racers have an absolute star of their own in projected NBA lottery pick Ja Morant. Morant vs. Howard is absolute must-see TV in the first round.

As a team, Murray State enters the NCAA Tournament undefeated since late-January and riding an 11-game winning streak. With their second-straight year of Ohio Valley Conference dominance, the Racers bring a team brimming with confidence (not to mention a 27-4 record) into March Madness.

Date: Thursday, March 21

Time: Approx. 4:20 p.m. ET

TV Channel: TBS

Location: XL Center, Hartford, Conn.

Announcers: Carter Blackburn / Debbie Antonelli // John Schriffen

Prediction: Something has to give here, right? We've got two teams here trending in opposite directions but both have an incredibly talented go-to guy to lean on.

We like the Racers to stay hot, as Morant carries the load and Howard's supporting cast doesn't do enough to bring home a win.

Murray State gets the W.