What Can Marquette Do?
The Marquette Warriors are still 5-0 in Big East conference play and will face a winless DePaul team tomorrow afternoon in Milwaukee. I know anything can happen, especially in the Big East, but Marquette is well-rested and well-prepared for the Blue Demons.
This should be a romp for Marquette and they should be 6-0 when everyone on campus goes to sleep on Saturday night/Sunday morning.
The big question is when will the Warriors be handed their first Big East loss? There's just no way they can go undefeated all the way to March 7, is there?
After the game tomorrow, Marquette faces two tough games next week. The Warriors head to Notre Dame for a Monday night game. The Irish have been struggling over the past two weeks and will be ready for a chance to get a big win over a top 10 opponent on their home floor. Luke Harangody will cause big matchup problems for the Warriors and as a fan, I'm afraid of Harangody's skills.
One week from tomorrow, Georgetown comes to Milwaukee looking to improve their conference record with a high-profile road victory. Most recently, the Hoyas got shelled by West Virginia, losing 75-58. By the time they're facing Marquette, they will have had ample opportunity to right the ship with games against Seton Hall and Cincinnati.
Despite the Harangody problem, I don't think Marquette loses the game against Notre Dame. Depending on how they play against DePaul, Marquette could have momentum on their side heading into the game on Monday. As I said, Notre Dame has had trouble recently and are barely still ranked in the top 25 polls.
If the Warriors do survive the Irish, Georgetown will provide another stiff challenge to Marquette. Greg Monroe is a good young player for the Hoyas and will present even more matchup problems for the guard-oriented Warriors.
However, this is another game Marquette can win if they can create turnovers before the Hoyas can get the ball inside to the big freshman. The trip to Milwaukee will also be the last of three consecutive road games for the Hoyas.
With these two potential wins, Marquette will be 7-0 in the Big East and preparing for a three-game road trip of their own with rematches against DePaul and Villanova and the team's only contest with South Florida. None of these games will be easy, especially at Villanova, but it's not inconceivable to think Marquette could win all three and possibly push their conference record to an astounding 10-0 in the Big East.
When the Warriors get home, St. John's will meet them there for a Valentine's Day matchup with a game against Seton Hall following three days later. A 12-0 Marquette is possible at this point and along with it, a potential top five ranking.
After this, the schedule gets exponentially more difficult. Hasheem Thabeet and Connecticut will come calling at the Bradley Center and this is one game that I don't think Marquette can win. The Warriors simply have no answer for Thabeet, no matter how well Wes Matthews, Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Lazar Hayward play.
Still, a 12-1 record through 13 Big East games would be a welcome sight for the Marquette student body and alumni. If it gets to this point, they might finally be talked about on a national stage and recognized as a potential Final Four threat.
Of course, the Big East is as unpredictable as any conference. Marquette might not even get past DePaul tomorrow. Or Notre Dame. Or Georgetown. But there's a good chance that they will. And if they do, people will recognize that this Warrior team is a force to be reckoned with in the NCAA Tournament.
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