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About That Marquette Basketball Postseason Hope...

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Of course the team is better with Luke Fischer in the lineup. But is Marquette set up for a chance at a postseason berth?

Duane Wilson and the Golden Eagles have to look up at the Big East standings to have a chance at some postseason action.
Duane Wilson and the Golden Eagles have to look up at the Big East standings to have a chance at some postseason action.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Marquette found themselves on the outside looking in when both the NCAA tournament and NIT tournament fields were announced.  The facts of the matter were pretty simple: Marquette just didn't have the wins to make it.  Not because they were 17-15, but because the wins they did have weren't against quality opponents, according to the KenPom.com rankings.

Opponent KenPom Ranking W-L Record
1-25 0-7
26-50 1-2
51-100 6-5

Those are the full season numbers, and yes, I'm looking at it now, so there might be some slight variation given postseason play factoring in.  That's still 1-9 against Top 50 teams, though, which is no good when it comes to getting into a postseason tournament.  Last year, each of the top 29 teams in the KenPom rankings made it into the NCAA tournament, as did 37 of the top 40, and 42 of the top 50.  Those are the tournament caliber teams and you have to beat them to prove that you belong in the field.

We're at the start of the conference schedule now, so we only have that to look at.  Last year at this point, Marquette was 0-3 against teams ranked 1-25 and 1-2 against the 26-50 ranked teams.  Where does MU stack up right now?

Opponent KenPom Ranking W-L Record
1-25 0-3
26-50 0-0
51-100 3-0

Well, that's okay, I guess.  It's not going to win any awards, and there is that loss to Nebraska-Omaha in there.  The Mavericks are currently ranked #208, and that's not likely to get all that much better.  The upside here is that all three of the losses listed in that table came without Luke Fischer, while one of the wins (Arizona State) is arguably Marquette's finest performance of the season, and Fischer was in the lineup for that one.

The wins will have to come in conference play, as Marquette's non-conference record is not going to help them reach the postseason at all.  Luckily for the Golden Eagles, the Big East is on the uptick this season.  Two teams (Villanova & St. John's) are currently top 25 KenPom teams, while five more are in the top 50.  Only MU, Creighton, and DePaul find themselves outside that margin, and both the Golden Eagles and the Bluejays are in the top 100.

Presuming everyone stays in the categories they're in right now, a season sweep of DePaul combined with winning at the Bradley Center and losing on the road against would make MU 11-7 in league play with a 2-5 top 25 record and a 5-5 record against 26-50.  7-10 isn't a great mark against top 50 teams, but it's much better than last year's, and against a much tougher schedule.

With the way Marquette has played over the last four games, 11-7 in the Big East seems possible.  Because other teams could shift rankings throughout the season, it seems to me that Marquette needs to aim for 12-6 to have a legitimate argument at the NCAA tournament.  Conveniently, that would make Marquette 20-10 heading to the Big East tournament, so that 20 win plateau would seem to be the target to keep our eyes on over the next two months.