The end of January and beginning of February is an interesting time in college basketball. Other than the Super Bowl, the NFL season is pretty much over and peoples’ interest is starting to shift over to the hardwood. It’s also the midway point through conference schedule and teams are really starting to show their true colors. Right now is a good time to sit back and gauge what you see in your favorite teams.
So what about Marquette? They’re in the middle of the pack in the Big East with a 13-8 (4-5) record. At first glance, you may look at this win/loss ratio as NIT worthy. This is the Big East, though, by far the best conference in college basketball. Of those nine games played in conference, six of them have been against top 20 teams. That's a pretty damn hard schedule.
It's not as if all those games have been losses, either. The Golden Eagles took down an elite Georgetown team on Jan. 6th, and recently went out to Hartford, CT and beat the Huskies. The games MU has lost: a buzzer beater at West Virginia, two games to No. 2 Villanova (by a total of four points), a close game (76-71) at the Carrier Dome to the fifth-ranked Syracuse Orange, and MU’s worst performance of the season in Chicago in a another buzzer beater loss to lowly DePaul.
The next question is what's the road ahead look like for MU? Well, it’s a lot easier than the one they’ve traveled thus far. Of the nine conference games left, they have only one against a ranked team (No. 17 Pitt). That's not to say it’s the easiest schedule, though; they still have to face the Notre Dames, Louisvilles, and Cincinnatis of the world. Besides those, the rest of the games are definite should-wins.
If Marquette takes care of business in the remainder of the regular season and makes a splash in the always thrilling Big East tourney, they will be looking at a top 25 ranking and a definite spot in the big dance. If this happens, they’ll be looking back to the time when they were saved by monster performances by their big three (Lazar Haywood, Jimmy Butler, and Darius Johnson-Odom) in a tough win against UConn as the turning point of the season.
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