2008 will be the year of the eagle.
The Marquette Golden Eagles, coached by Tom Crean, will advance to the Sweet 16 in this year's NCAA tournament by beating Kentucky and Stanford.
The Golden Eagles get the Kentucky Wildcats in the first round, a favorable draw for them. The Wildcats have a depleted roster, playing without freshman phenom Patrick Patterson and sophomore role player Jodie Meeks.
This has hurt the Wildcats tremendously—giving them only two real playmakers, seniors Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford.
While both have the experience and talent necessary to make clutch plays, they are the only playmakers on this squad who can create their own shot.
If you've watched Kentucky recently you know their offensive sets consist of Bradley running off of pick-and-rolls with sophomore Perry Stevenson, with Ramel having to force drives to the hoop and putting up more shots than he should be.
This lack of depth will doom Kentucky to losing to Marquette, who embarrassed them in 2003 with the dominance of Dwayne Wade.
Marquette will then face the Cardinal of Stanford in the second round. I have not been overly impressed with Stanford this season.
Brook Lopez is not all he is hyped to be. Lacking a real playmaker and stellar guard play, Marquette's senior Dominic James and junior Jerel McNeal will dominate the Cardinal.
The Golden Eagles may not have a truly talented big man, but the lack of size is made up for by their ability to control the tempo of the game with their outstanding guards. Implementing their fast-paced style on the Cardinal will be crucial to being able to upset Lopez and Co.
Marquette is a battle-tested team who has played a tough non-conference schedule. Although losing to Duke 77-73 in late November, it was a road game and showed Marquette's ability to hang with the big guys.
They also pulled off a victory at Wisconsin, 81-76, on December 8th in Madison.
Marquette to the Sweet 16!