Can you feel that? There's an excitement in the air that comes only once a year. Yes friends, Selection Sunday is nearly upon us and that means that the greatest sporting spectacle on Earth is not far behind. And thanks to Wednesday's gigantic win over West Virginia we can say with a high degree of certainty that YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles will be participating in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive season - the second longest such streak in school history (Al McGuire and Hank Raymonds led the Warriors to 10 straight tourney berths from 1971-1980.)
Over the past couple seasons, those of us that remember the lean years have sat back and smiled on Selection Sunday. We came into the day having been assured of our place in the Big Dance weeks, or even months, ahead of time. We calmly debated what our seed should be, who and where we hoped to play. We looked at those poor unfortunate souls on the bubble, sweating their faces off as the brackets were revealed and making deals with the Almighty so that their team might not be the one that got left out of the tourney. We felt for those teams and their fans, but we were also glad as hell that we did not have to endure that torture. But this season was different. As recently a week ago, we were all but assured of being in that unenviable position - nervously swallowing gin and Maalox cocktails while we waited for the committee to announce our fate. A month ago, things were looking so bleak that we would've gladly agreed to trade large sums of money and/or non-vital organs just for the chance to be close enough to have something to be nervous about on Selection Sunday.
Fortunately Marquette's strong showing in the Big East Tournament, the advent of the 68 team field, and the fact that every other bubble team hasn't been able to get out of their own way, have combined to put us in a pretty favorable position this year. It's NOTHING like it's been the last five years, but all things considered it's a pretty good spot to be in. Given all we've been through, we are in no position to start getting picky about what the committee hands us on Sunday. But for esses and gees, let's pretend that we're not just happy to be here and kick around a few items that we would like to see when Greg Gumbel says "the Golden Eagles of Marquette University!"
- As always, I am not overly thrilled with the prospect of being an 8/9 seed. The difference between the potential 1 seeds and the 2 seeds this year seems to be fairly noticeable this year. Avoiding a 2nd rounder against one of those #1 teams would be nice. The gulf between the teams projected on the 8/9 line, and those below them has lessened in the past week or so. So it is conceivable that Marquette could find itself in that position.
- If we do end up on the 8/9 line, having someone other than Ohio State looming in round 2 would be preferred. All the #1 teams are scary, but tOSU is the scariest. Can you imagine Diebler and Lighty and Co. against MU's 3-point defense. *Shudder*
- A game in Chicago would be swell. I find it highly unlikely that the committee would give a team seeded between 8-11 that kind of a perk, but it would be cool if they did. Especially since I have that day off of work and know a guy, who knows a guy, who would probably hook me up with a ticket.
- If we can't have Chicago (which we can't), then hopefully we don't get shipped out the West coast. The past few trips the Pacific time zone haven't ended too well for Marquette. We've dropped first-rounders in San Diego, San Jose, and had our hearts ripped out in Anaheim. So if we could avoid a trip to California that would probably be in our best interest.
- I dare not ask for anything more, lest some committee members read this and decide to spite us because I got greedy. If anyone else has any ideas, feel free to drop 'em in the comments. I have it on good authority that selection committee members never read comments, so we should be safe there.
Of course the reality of this year is we'll take whatever spot they're willing to give us. Just let us into the party and we'll see what we can do. You never know what can happen. I know if I was a higher seeded team and looked across the bracket to see a team with 11 Big East wins, and 5 wins over teams in the RPI top 20, I would be none too thrilled. Whatever happens, enjoy this Marquette fans - success is a fragile thing, and you never know when we might wind up hosting Fairfield in the first round of that other postseason tournament.