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Marquette at Seton Hall: Three Things We Learned

The Tournament Bubble Watch Edition

We know everything there is to about Marquette as a basketball team by this point, so instead, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at what Marquette’s tournament picture looks like.

Folks, it ain’t great.

But there’s hope.

1.Marquette is currently out of the NCAA Tournament, but they’re not dead yet.

As of right now, Friday, February 8, 2019, Marquette is OUT of the NCAA Tournament. Marquette was left on the outside looking in in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, specifically listed in the First Four Out along with Syracuse, UCLA and Nebraska. A road win at Seton Hall Pirates last night was not enough to insert them into the field of 68 following two home losses to Butler and Providence last week. A four-game losing streak was, obviously, not great for Marquette, especially considering that it came due to major slumps by basically their entire offense. That’s the price you have to pay as a team that has to shoot well to win and can’t play defense. This is about where we thought Marquette would be at the beginning of the season, fighting for the last few spots in a crowded Big East. But not all hope is lost.

Let’s take a look at the schedule. It’s not a super tough schedule? Four of their six remaining games are against the bottom three teams in the Big East. The two others are against Creighton. More on them in a minute. None of these games are a guarantee, I would say, as four of them are road games. Georgetown has been sort of competitive with top-tier Big East teams? And yes, I’m asking that as a question? So a road game there against a team with a lot of length might be challenging. DePaul is DePaul, I don’t know. Lastly, the Golden Eagles get St. John’s twice, and the Johnnies just knocked off Duke at home and Villanova at Villanova in back-to-back games. Which is insane. Like, I can’t even try to explain that to you. So, I have no idea which St. John’s team will show up when Marquette plays them, but they look like a team hell-bent on being the first team to lose its first 11 conference games and still make the tournament. But, whatever.

2. Both Creighton games are must-wins.

I don’t think this is a concrete fact. Marquette could go 1-1 and conceivably make the tournament based on how other teams land. But why chance it? Marquette would feel much more comfortable with two wins over the third best Big East team in their pocket. And I would bet in that case, since that implies they would win out, they’d be a near-lock. But that’s assuming they can win those games. Creighton, I assert, is very good. Less good since Martin Krampelj went down with an injury, but still very good. They are, dare I say it, almost as good of a 3-point shooting team than Marquette, and a significantly better defensive team. They’re 24th in KenPom, too.

Marquette is at Creighton on February 17 and the home game is March 3, the last game of the season. The home game could be a suprememly important game for Marquette. By that time, Creighton will have played #5 Xavier and #1 (at least until the next poll comes out) Villanova, both in Omaha. I would not be surprised if the Bluejays win one of those games. This could turn into a massive last-second resume win for Marquette going into conference tournament week.

3. If Marquette were to rely on other teams to get them in, here’s who to watch:

  • Arkansas – With five likely-tournament teams left on their schedule, Arkansas is currently one of the last teams in Joe Lunardi’s field with a bye, so wins against those programs could cement them in the field, but they’re all tough teams, and too many losses in those games could easily move them behind Marquette.
  • Virginia Tech – One of the last four byes like the Razorbacks, Buzz Williams’ team has a lot of opportunities for big wins in the ACC, but also tough road games and Duke and Clemson at home. Buzz could really do Marquette a solid here and choke. Or, say, quit on a season with a few games left to go.
  • Washington – Washington currently sits in the last four in, but doesn’t have an opportunity to pick up another quality win. Any losses down the stretch would hurt, but it would have to be catastrophic to negate their wins over Kansas and Arizona.
  • USC – USC is currently a member of the last four in with only two quality wins on their schedule, and by “quality,” I mean New Mexico State and Middle Tennessee State on neutral courts. Their only remaining chance for a solid resume win is at Arizona, and that’s coming up on Saturday after they just lost to Arizona State on Thursday night. If they can’t pull that off and drop one or two more, that could be Marquette’s best chance for a spot in the Big Dance.
  • Syracuse – Syracuse currently stands in the first four out with Marquette. Like Virginia Tech, they have a bevy of strong ACC resume opportunities remaining, but unlike Virginia Tech, they’re trying to play their way in instead of trying not to lose their way out. Of all the first four teams out, they’re Marquette’s biggest competition.
  • UCLA – Sporting good wins over Washington and Kentucky, UCLA already has one leg up on USC and plays them at USC to close out the season. If USC hasn’t given up their last spot in by that point, UCLA might be able to grab it.
  • Nebraska – Nebraska has one strong win and zero opportunities for more. I just thought it was funny that Nebraska was kind of good at basketball.