A Healthy Dominic James Might Make the Difference Against Missouri

Jesse MotiffSenior Analyst IMarch 22, 2009

MILWAUKEE - JANUARY 31: Dominic James #1 of the Marquette Golden Eagles brings the ball upcourt against the Georgetown Hoyas on January 31, 2009 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Marquette defeated Georgetown 94-82. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

It is now being reported that Marquette's senior point guard, Dominic James, has been cleared to play Sunday afternoon against the Missouri Tigers. Not only will this be a boost to morale for the Golden Eagles, but this could be the difference between winning and losing.

Since James went down with a broken foot against Connecticut on Feb. 25, Marquette has struggled mightily. They have been a completely different team without James' presence. Not only does he open up the offense, mainly for Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews, but he is also the team's best on-ball defender.

Although James will play against the Tigers, he will no doubt be limited in what he's able to do. James at 75 percent is still better than Maurice Acker or anyone else that coach Buzz Williams could put on the floor Sunday afternoon for Marquette.

This is absolutely shocking news and should give renewed hope to not only the team but all their fans as well. Even the most die-hard Marquette fan had a hard time picking the Golden Eagles to beat Missouri.

Without James, Marquette is just another team. With James, Marquette becomes the team they were earlier in the season, a bona fide top-10 team. Marquette is able to legitimately compete with any team in the tournament.

It's a shame brackets aren't allowed to be changed due to injuries or players coming back from injuries because more than a few people would adjust their brackets with James returning.

I had Marquette losing in the first round to Utah State, but I now think it's possible for them to beat Missouri on Sunday, and they will give Memphis all they can handle next week as well.

Even if Marquette doesn't win on Sunday, at least they can now go down swinging at full strength. It was very sad to see such a great player like James get injured in the team's biggest game of the year.

However, he can now end his college career on a high note knowing he battled back to support his team in the NCAA tournament and has a chance to go down in Marquette folklore depending on what happens on Sunday and beyond.