he first college basketball season is over and the second season begins in the NCAA Tournament. What does that mean for the Marquette team? It depends on if they can make a deep run in the tournament or bow out in the first round
So if the Golden Eagles play like they did against Louisville in the Big East postseason tournament, then it will be a quick exit for them.
Marquette lost to Washington to the first round several years back. Last year, the Golden Eagles made it to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2003. It isn’t certain how far this squad will go.
Getting a No. 3 seed in the West Regional is rewarding for the body of work they displayed during the regular season. Marquette finished second in the Big East regular season, and that’s probably what the selection committee looked at when seeding each of the 68 teams.
“I don’t think that the seeding matters when you get to the tournament,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “I think your body of work gets you the seed. It’s win or go home.”
The good news for Marquette is the favorable path to the Sweet Sixteen if they run the tables and win their second and third round games. The bad news is not knowing who they will play in the second round. The Golden Eagles will have to wait for the winner of BYU and Iona. Those two teams were the last four to get in the expanded field of 68 and will play each other for the right to take on Marquette.
According to Williams, that has never happened in his time as the Golden Eagles head coach. It’s really hard for them because they have to scout both teams just in case. “We never had that issue. You’re not going to know who you are going to play until (after first round game). It’s kind of double work because you’re not preparing for a team but for two teams. We just got to make sure that we’re prepared in an appropriate way.”
Marquette doesn’t have much information or a deep enough scouting report on either BYU or Iona. Rest assured that Williams got his staff on the job to get the information relayed to the players without stressing their brain too much.
“You have to have a good feel for both teams and your team needs to have a feel for both teams,” Williams said. “You can’t inundate kids with too much information and then half the information you give them is wrong, because Thursday night (Mar. 15) they will be saying, ‘Coach, I thought you said that was the team we could’ve played. So, we don’t want to make it too much of a chemistry project. We just want to make sure that we’re efficient.”
It’s put up or shut up time for all the teams in the NCAA field and it’s time to get serious. “Now we got to stay focused,” Vander Blue said. “No joking around in practice. We take care of business. And when we step on the court, we got to play with no regrets.”
So how does Marquette prepare for the tournament and block out any distractions? “We have to make sure that the guys are on the same page,” Blue said. We know what we had to do now, knowing that anybody can lose at any time. (I’ll) get together with the guys and make sure that they know that it’s March. It’s time for business.”
Maybe the lesson Marquette take from the loss to Louisville in the conference postseason tournament will give them a sense of urgency that might boost their confidence and prove to people that they are for real, despite not having a big man available. Chris Otule was lost for the season with an ACL injury and Davante Gardner missed some time with his knee injury. Williams think that Gardner can help the team in some stretches of the game. Gardner is at about 80% healthy.
Some college basketball analysts think that the Golden Eagles are the most dangerous teams in the tournament. There’s a possibility that Marquette can meet Missouri in the Sweet Sixteen. Those two teams faced each other in the second round in a game that was close to the wire and a game that the Golden Eagles lost. A more interesting matchup would be Marquette against Florida, if they beat Missouri. The crystal ball shows Marquette making it to the round of 16.
State Boys Tournament This Weekend
There are four pretty good teams in the WIAA boys Division 1 field and three of them won more than one state championship. Germantown is undefeated and have been to state before, but they haven’t won a state title. Could it finally be their year?
The Warhawks must deal with Madison Memorial in the first semifinal game, Friday Mar. 16. This time, the outcome may swing in their favor. When they last met in the state tournament in 2009, Memorial had the better team and a couple of all-state players and Division 1 recruits in Vander Blue and Jeronne Maymon.
Milwaukee King plays Oshkosh West in the second semifinal. King is small but determined to show everyone that they can win state. The Generals just have to outwork West to get to the title game.
A Germantown and King final Mar. 17 will be a great matchup. King is the only hope for the city because the WIAA can only stand to see only one Milwaukee team there. Milwaukee Washington could have been the second city team there in Madison, but they lost in the Division 2 sectional game to Pius. Good luck to whoever wins the championship.