How Can Marquette Crash March Madness? (Part 1)

“Umm, will we even make the tournament?”

This lingering question has been badgering Marquette fans more and more with each bad loss. Simply receiving an invite to March Madness has become every Marquette fan’s dream escape from this nightmare of a season, regardless of opponent, seed or even outcome of the actual games.

So, will we make it? Unfortunately, it’s likely that we won’t. But this article isn’t about definite answers, it’s about scenarios. Read the title over again – how can Marquette make the NCAA Tournament?

The easy answer is that it’s going to take nearly a miracle. However, that won’t stop us from predicting and analyzing every possible situation. For starters, let’s take a look at the remaining schedule.

2/11 at Seton Hall, 2/15 vs. Xavier, 2/19 vs. Creighton, 2/22 at DePaul, 2/27 vs. Georgetown, 3/2 at Villanova, 3/4 at Providence, 3/8 vs. St. John’s. Aaaannnd after that is the Big East Tournament. And then hopefully not the NIT.

Since we’re 13-10, if we won all of our remaining regular season games, we’d be 21-10 – and that alone is definitely worth tournament consideration. Take a look at the records of lower-seeded teams in last year’s tournament:

Side note: We’re not taking into account conference tournament wins yet, which play a large factor in both who gets in and what seed they are. We’ll get to that later. So far, we’re just analyzing the type of run we’ll have to make beforehand.

So, eight wins has proven to get us into tournament consideration. However, unless Derrick Wilson undergoes a Jordan-like transformation, I can almost guarantee you that won’t happen. So the question has become, how many can we lose before we’re officially NIT-bound? To find out how many and which games we need to win, we first have to find out the probable outcome of our last eight games. Thus, we give you below a mini-preview and prediction for every remaining game. If you’re not into reading previews, just look at the predictions in bold.

2/11 at Seton Hall

  • Seton Hall seems like an easy win every year, but then again, this year isn’t like others. We both have the same records. We also both have W/L/W/L/etc since the last time they played us. Us and Seton Hall! Who would’ve thought!? Anyways, last time we played SH, we had a scare at home and won 67-66. Playing away is a little scarier than at home, and besides games against Villanova and Creighton (blowout losses) and Butler (7 point loss), they’ve never lost a game by more than 4 points. This will be close. I predict a Marquette win due to the fact that 1) it’s the last stretch of the season, 2) we’ve had a week off, 3) we’re coming off a win and they’re not, and 4) I believe Buzz will be so locked in this week that it will be physically impossible for Marquette to lose this game.

2/15 vs. Xavier

  • Xavier is always going to be tough. Last time we played, we lost 86-79 on the road, but it was a lot closer than that if you watched the whole game. We’ve also got home court advantage this time. While a win over Villanova or Creighton would be much more credible, a win over Xavier seems like our best chance at a quality win. Are we capable of beating the Musketeers? Of course – but “will we?” is a question none can answer. Honestly, Marquette is capable of beating numerous top-25 teams on a good day but can easily fall to DePaul or Seton Hall on a bad day. Toss up.

2/19 vs. Creighton

  • I have a feeling this could be even worse than the 18-point loss we suffered on New Years’ Eve. The Bluejays have only heated up since they last played us. Loss.

2/22 at DePaul

  • Even on an off day, we ended up winning by 10 the last time we played the Blue Demons. Win.

2/27 vs. Georgetown

  • Another toss up. After both teams bricked hard in a close 1st half (as expected), we needed a spectacular performance from Mayo to just carry us to OT, and unprecedented offensive efficiency by everyone in overtime to get us the win. If that doesn’t happen again, it’s going to be a lot closer than an 8-point game. Toss up.

3/2 vs. Villanova

  • The last matchup against Villanova was an awesome game, but Nova missing free throws at the end and some REALLY lucky calls in our favor is what kept us in the game – not necessarily good play on our behalf. That’s why we ended up losing by 9 after the game should’ve been over at the buzzer (even though I’m really, really glad it wasn’t – I have no idea how us Marquette fans could’ve mentally processed losing on a game-winner to the #4 team in the country). I’d be surprised if this game was as close as the last. Loss.

3/4 vs. Providence

  • Last time we played, we blew them out by 17 in the first half and then lost by 6 in the second, which added up for an 11-point win for us. As obvious as it sounds, getting the win truly depends on how well we’re playing as a team that day. If the team that played against St. John’s shows up on the court, we’re going to lose. If the team that played against Xavier or Georgetown shows up, we’ll most likely win. However, Providence has star power in Bryce Cotten and is looking like a tournament team as of now, so this is another toss up.

3/8 vs. St. John’s

  • I don’t think it would be physically possible for MU to replicate The Game We Don’t Talk About. I say Marquette wins this game running on sheer anger and revenge. Also, I didn’t want to label this as another toss up, even though it could be regarded as one.

With 3 wins, 2 losses and 3 toss-ups, it’s possible this team could go somewhere between 3-5 and 6-2 down this crucial 8-game stretch. Without choosing specific toss-up games, I’d say Marquette goes either 4-4 or 5-3, putting them at either 17-14 or 18-13 to end the season. Unfortunately, that kind of record isn’t going to cut it by itself. So, should we hang our heads and raise our white flags yet? Not quite yet, #mubb fans! Why? Because the Big East Tournament gives us more chances!

Click below for part two of this article, which includes our analysis on the upcoming Big East tourney and conclusions on our research.

Welcome to the Daily Eagle – a blog and twitter feed of all things Marquette basketball. Follow us on Twitter at @Daily_Eagle for live updates on recruiting, games, facts, and the occasional opinion. For inquiries, contact us at dailyeagle@yahoo.com.

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