On Sunday night, after the NCAA had announced the 68 team national championship field and the 32 team NIT field, Marquette announced that the men's basketball team would not be participating in any other postseason tournaments.
Thus, the season ends with a record of 20-13, with last Thursday's loss to Xavier in the Big East tournament quarterfinals marking the final game of the season.
It's disappointing, really, as the mood coming out of that loss seemed to be one of interest, both in coach and players, in continuing to play this season. At the time of the loss, the possibility of qualifying for the NCAA tournament was officially over, as only a Big East tournament title and the resulting automatic bid would have put the Golden Eagles into the bracket. The chances of being included in the NIT were also dwindling to zero as multiple regular season champions in one-bid leagues were dropping like flies in a nuclear wasteland. The NIT is required to take any regular season champ that doesn't reach the NCAA field, and with 15 of the 32 spots occupied by those teams, there was no longer any space for a team with Marquette's profile.
Given those two facts, it seemed that Marquette was open to the idea of participating in either the CBI or the brand new Vegas 16. While playing in those events would require MU to pay an entry fee, it seemed like a worthwhile venture for a team that ultimately fell short of the postseason largely due to relying on three freshmen to play at least 24 minutes a night each. Continuing to play, and, more importantly, continuing to practice with a team that is losing a total of one point scored to graduation this season would seem to possibly have long term impact on the development of the program under head coach Steve Wojciechowski.
Deputy Athletic Director Mike Broeker had been spending time over the last week campaigning on Twitter, pointing out Marquette's top 50 wins. After the conclusion of Sunday's final conference tournament games, MU had a record of 5-10 against the KenPom top 50. While five is a pretty decent win total, 10 losses is an awful lot of blown opportunities to prove that you belong in a postseason tournament. On top of those missed chances, Marquette is also saddled with a loss to DePaul, which currently sits at #202 on the KenPom chart. All of that is why this quote from Wojciechowski, as reported by Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is slightly weird:
"We felt like we put ourselves in a position to earn a bid and our numbers stacked up well with some of the teams that made it."
I'm all for putting on my blue and gold glasses and taking the optimistic point of view of things, but with the resume that sits there in cold hard facts, that seems slightly silly to even try to believe. In fairness to Wojo, that wasn't the full quote.
"Guys were all obviously very disappointed. That's a hard lesson to learn -- we don't want to put the fate of our season and postseason play in somebody else's hands."
Sounds like MU could have benefited from a pre-season pep talk from UFC President Dana White.
Wojciechowski also told Matty V that there was essentially no discussion about participating in either the Vegas tournament or the CBI, as the team is "exhausted," partially due to beginning their season in July because of the trip to Italy.
The offseason starts now, which means the next thing on the schedule is figuring out whether or not Henry Ellenson will make the expected decision to enter the NBA draft.