How Can Marquette Crash March Madness? (Part 2)

For Part 1 of this article, click here.

Below is the schedule and seeding matchups for the Big East Tournament:

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 12.40.53 PM

As long as we don’t fall past 6th in the Big East, it’ll take three wins for us to win the conference championship. If the season ended today, we’d be a 5 seed playing Xavier. With a win, we’d be playing Nova next. With another win there, we’d be in the championship to most likely play Creighton. So, yeah. Let’s just be glad the season doesn’t end today – because in that scenario, it’s hard to picture us getting past the second game, let alone the first.

Building off our earlier prediction, two wins in the Big East Tournament would give us two possible records: 19-15 or 20-14. However, in last years’ NCAA Tournament, there were no 14+ loss teams that got in without winning their conference championship. The ones that did so winning their conference title were North Carolina A&T (19-16), Liberty (15-20), Western Kentucky (20-15) and James Madison (20-14) – all were 16-seeds, and besides WKU, all were play-ins. So, if we aren’t going to win the Big East Tournament, we simply cannot get to 14 losses. That means if we go 5-3 down the stretch, giving us 13 losses heading into the conference tournament, we would have to win it to get into the NCAA’s. Just in case someone forgot: anyone who wins their conference tournament gets an automatic ticket to March Madness.

If we go 6-2 or 7-1 down this stretch, we could afford to lose in the conference tournament – but we’d have to pick up a quality win or two either during or before the tournament. That’d put us at either 12 or 13 losses. There were five 12-13 loss teams in the tournament last year: 9 seed Villanova (20-13), 11 seed Minnesota (20-12), 7 seed Illinois (22-12), and 15 seeds Iona (20-13) and Pacific (22-12). Iona and Pacific won their conference titles, so let’s kick them out of the equation. That leaves us with Nova, Minnesota and the Illini. Let’s take a look at their resumes heading into the NCAA’s last year:

Nova

  • 7 seed in Big East Tournament out of 14 teams
  • Won first game in BE tourney against St. John’s by 13, lost to Louisville next game by 19 (quarterfinals)
  • Quality wins: Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette, Georgetown

Minnesota

  • 9 seed out of 11 teams in Big Ten Tournament
  • Lost to Illinois by 2 in first round of BT tourney
  • Quality wins: Memphis, Michigan State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana

Illinois

  • 8 seed out of 11 teams in Big Ten Tournament
  • Beat Minnesota by 2 in first round, lost to Indiana by 16 in second round
  • Quality wins: Butler, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Indiana, Minnesota (twice)

Only looking at the three teams’ conference tournament seeding, record and tournament outcome, their resumes aren’t very good. However, it’s the quality wins that sets them apart, which is exactly what Marquette is lacking at the moment. If we finish the season with our quality wins as Georgetown, Providence, and George Washington, our resume won’t compare to those above, and we won’t get into the tournament. So, we have to get a few more quality wins to jump into legitimate consideration. Opportunities to do so include upcoming games against Xavier, Creighton, Providence and Villanova, along with the potential matchups against these teams in the Big East Tourney.

To finish the season with 10 losses, we’d have to pull off an 11-0 run in our last 11 games. Considering who we’re facing (and who we could potentially be facing in the BET), that’s simply not going to happen. To finish with 11 losses, we’d have to either go 7-1 down the stretch and win the BET, or go 8-0 and lose at some point in the BET. Highly unlikely either scenario will happen.

So, to draw conclusions based off our ideas:

If Marquette goes 4-4 or worse down the stretch, they’re not making the NCAA’s unless they (somehow) win the Big East Tournament.

If Marquette goes 5-3 down the stretch, again, the only way to get into March Madness will be to win the Big East Tournament.

If Marquette goes 6-2 or better down the stretch, they can afford to lose one game in the Big East Tournament – but beforehand, they must pick up a quality win or two. The losses also must be to good teams, and Marquette needs to still impress somehow in those games. At 21-13 with quality wins and a hot streak, they could sneak in as a low seed or play-in.

If Marquette goes 7-1 in their last eight games, beating either Creighton or Villanova during this stretch, and wins at least two games in the BET (with at least one over a good team), they would be getting very serious consideration for March Madness.

Not necessarily a lock in any of these cases, proving that winning the Big East Tournament is the only sure way we’ll get in. To make the NCAA’s without winning their conference championship, Marquette’s going to have to impress and pick up quality wins in the postseason and these final regular season games.

The Predictions Are…

We think Marquette will go either 4-4 or 5-3 down the stretch. They will lose to both Villanova and Creighton, and then to a worse team or two, just as they’ve been doing all year. They will then win one game at the most in the Big East Tournament. With that said, Marquette will not make the NCAA Tournament due to poor record and lack of quality wins.

Trust me, I’d absolutely love to see Marquette pull a miracle run and get in. But based on what we’ve seen all year, it’s extremely unlikely it happens. Sorry, guys. This just isn’t our year.

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Let’s not end on such a depressing note. Here’s some Ahmed Hill highlights. And some Luke Fischer tape, too. Hey, look! Sandy Cohen is a great dunker! …and a 2014 Marquette commit too!

In all seriousness, just know that if Villanova or Creighton get upset early in the BET, there’s a chance we pull off a miracle run. Cross your fingers, #mubb fans.

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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