Marquette Finally Finds a Marquee Win

Mitchell SkurzewskiContributor IFebruary 1, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 23:  Head coach Buzz Williams of the Marquette Golden Eagles reacts to a call during the CBE Classic consolation game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs on November 23, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

You hear about it all the time on ESPN College Gameday and from basketball analysts like Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis.

Come tournament time, teams need marquee wins.

The Marquette Golden Eagles finally put one on their resume with a 72-66 victory over Syracuse on Saturday. In the game, Marquette overcame some demons.

It has been no secret that the Golden Eagles have struggled in close games all season long. Losses to Duke, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, Connecticut and the heartbreaker to Louisville this season, all by single-digits, had to creep into the minds of some of the Marquette players when the Orange overcame a 11-point deficit to tie the game late in the second half.

With the score 66 apiece, Jimmy Butler drained a three-pointer with the shot clock running down and after a stop Darius Johnson-Odom canned another three to put the Eagles up 72-66 and on to a much needed 76-70 victory over a ranked opponent.

The win, as I stated, is big not only for the NCAA resume, but may be even bigger mentally for Marquette, who finally won a close game over a quality team. The Eagles already had a nice home win over Notre Dame, and won handily. Coming into the game against Syracuse, the Eagles were 2-6 in games decided by six points or less.

Marquette now boasts nice home wins over Notre Dame and Syracuse and sit with a 14-8 record overall, including a 5-4 mark in the Big East.

With their ability to make critical plays down the stretch, the Golden Eagles have to be feeling good about themselves.

They will need to be feeling good, because there are no breaks in the Big East. Marquette will face its fourth straight Top-25 team on Wednesday when they begin a three-game road stretch at Villanova.

Hopefully the win over Syracuse will propel Marquette, because the Golden Eagles have one glaring hole remaining on their NCAA tournament resume: The lack of a road or neutral site victory over a quality team.

Marquette will try to fill that void Wednesday.