It's a five-pack of games I have non-cleverly dubbed "The Stretch". Five games against five quality opponents that will let us know where Marquette ranks in the Big East.
At one time, all of these opponents were ranked in the Top 25, an even though that is no longer the case, it's still one of the tougher stretches of games in college hoops this season. Marquette started the stretch off right, with a 78-72 win over Georgetown. Wesley Matthews had 23 points while Jerel McNeal had 22 points, leading MU to a season sweep over the Hoyas.
But it's only going to get tougher from there. There next three games are as follows (using AP rankings, cause they are better): vs. No. 2 UConn, at No. 1 Pittsburgh, at No. 6 Louisville. I'm expecting a 1-2 record in those next three, but I'd be more than happy with a 2-1 mark, and just ecstatic if they won them all.
After that, it's a match-up against unranked Syracuse, although they are No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll. March Madness is definitely coming early for the Golden Eagles.
Marquette won't be any slouch when they face these teams, however. Their 23-4 record has them ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Poll, and No. 10 in the ESPN version. Also, their 12-2 record in the Big East has them just 1/2 game out of first. Not bad for a team with a first year coach.
As for the Badgers, they no longer enjoy the thrill of being listed in the "Others Receiving Votes" column. Even though at one point the Badgers were cruising against Michigan State on Sunday, their horrendous second half collapse snapped Bucky's five game losing streak, and kept them out of the Top 25.
This loss says everything you need to know about the Badgers this season. They are probably the most mediocre team in the history of the world. They can't really beat anyone good, they still lose to crappy teams, and when they are beating a quality opponent they get nervous and choke. They'll still make the NCAA Tournament, for sure, but I'm not picking them to advance past the first round.