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Let's Be Totally Honest About Marquette Basketball's NCAA Tournament Hopes

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My suggestion? Hope for a Saturday night win at Madison Square Garden.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody all fired up about Marquette hoops after last night's thrilling double overtime win against Providence?  Cool, cool.  Cool cool cool.  Ok, let's take a look at the postseason profile that the Golden Eagles have assembled to this point of the season.  Here's the win/loss breakdown, with categories coming from KenPom.com:

Ranking Win/Loss Record
1-50 2-6
51-100 4-1
101-200 1-2
201-300 5-0
301-351 4-0

Sobering, isn't it?  Those top 50 teams are Marquette's competition for NCAA tournament spots, and to this point of the season, Marquette has not shown an ability to defeat them on a regular basis.  They also haven't played all that many of them.  If LSU (58) or Arizona State (68) or Providence (53, twice) would get their act in gear, that Top 50 line would be a bit shinier.  It'd be at the expense of that 51-100 line, but that's fine.

What's left on the schedule?  Two games against Creighton (#42), a road trip to DePaul (#164), home games against Villanova (#1) and Georgetown (#59), and finally a visit to Hinkle Fieldhouse to see Butler (#34) for the season finale.  Hey, chances for solid wins!  That's pretty fortuitous.  Hey, NBCSports.com's Rob Dauster, how many wins does Marquette need in their final six games plus the Big East tournament to make it into the NCAA tournament?

Wait.  Seven?  There's only six regular season games left!  Crap.

Every loss in the regular season means one more Big East tournament win that Marquette would need to prove they belong in the national championship field.  KenPom.com gives Marquette an 18% chance of beating Creighton in Omaha, a 16% chance of beating Villanova at home, and a 16% chance of beating Butler in Indianapolis.  Let's turn it over to Misix Analytics for the chances that Marquette heads to New York City for the Big East Tournament needing just one win to lock up a bid in Rob Dauster's mind:

1% chance of winning the next six games.  A 4% chance of needing two Big East tournament wins, and a 13% chance of needing three wins after finishing 9-9 in league play.  If Marquette finishes 9-9, they will probably avoid finishing 7th through 10th and thus playing on Wednesday night at MSG, which means they will have a chance to play three Big East tournament games.  Winning three BET games at that juncture would mean Marquette actually gets the automatic bid, so we'll take that into account.

That's all just focusing on Marquette and the road in front of them.  There's other teams out there that are interested in making the NCAA tournament, too.  Big Apple Buckets put together an NIT Bracketology article yesterday before the Providence game.  They had Marquette as a six seed in the NIT.  Four regions in the NIT means, at best, there are 20 teams in front of Marquette in the line to get to the NCAA tournament, and at worst, there are 23.  If you want to look for a silver lining in that news, Creighton and Georgetown are both seeded in front of Marquette, while Butler is one of the last eight teams into the NCAA field in their projection.  Leapfrogging teams gets a lot easier when you get a chance to beat them on the court late in the season.

That's where we're at right now.  If Marquette wants to make the NCAA tournament, they really can not lose again until Friday of the Big East tournament at the earliest.