Marquette Golden Eagles Extend Warning to Rest Of Nation

Tim SeemanAnalyst IJanuary 31, 2009

Twenty-six points, six rebounds, 11 assists, five steals, three blocks, only three turnovers.

That's what Jerel McNeal did against the Georgetown Hoyas.  What more can basketball fans ask for?  

How about two more players to score over 20 points (Lazar Hayward and Wesley Matthews)?

How about four players with 1,000 career points (McNeal, Matthews, Hayward, Dominic James)?  Marquette and North Carolina are the only college teams that have four players with 1,000 career points.

How about 30-38 from the free throw line helping to ice the game in the final four minutes?

Wait...Did somebody say Final Four?

Marquette's run through the Big East so far has been impressive, no matter what teams they have played.

Every winning margin has been comfortable, with the smallest being five when they traveled to New Jersey to play Rutgers.  They beat a solid West Virginia squad by 22 and another potential tournament team in Providence.  

Any road Big East victory is a quality win.  Just ask the Hoyas, who wish they could've gotten even a one-point win at previously winless Seton Hall earlier this week.

They've also beaten teams that have beaten Syracuse (Providence), Connecticut (Georgetown), and Pittsburgh (Villanova).

What I'm saying is this: fans of other schools need to start worrying about Marquette.  Whenever your starting five has 19 seasons of combined Big East experience (four seniors and a junior), you have a chance.  It doesn't hurt that four of those players can go for 25 points on any night.  Not to mention the stifling perimeter defense they play.

Even teams with size have yet to defeat the Warriors.  Notre Dame fell by the wayside despite 29 points from big man Luke Harangody.  Freshman center Greg Monroe of Georgetown only scored 13 against a usually small Marquette lineup.

In addition, the Warriors outrebounded the Hoyas 31-26.  McNeal, Matthews, Hayward, and Dwight Burke all outrebounded Monroe.  James had four boards, just as many as the Hoya center.  Often rebounding isn't about height but about quickness to the ball and good positioning, both of which Marquette had in spades.

This win against Georgetown further establishes what Marquette's strengths are: experience, perimeter defense, and hustle.

Turns out other teams use this formula and find great success in the postseason.  These teams are the winners of the mid-major conferences who shock the big boys in the NCAA Tournament.  Four-year starters almost always play a role in first-round NCAA upsets.  The willingness to chase down loose balls also levels the playing field between the elite and not-so-elite teams.

The main difference between these mid-major teams who score upsets and Marquette is talent.  The Warriors have three NBA-ready players on their team where the George Masons, Butlers, and Xaviers of the world do not.

All these ingredients point to this final product: the Warriors will make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.  And Warrior Nation will be chanting "We are Marquette" every step of the way.