This is really just a bracketology check for Marquette men’s basketball, but we’re doing it under the auspices of a panicking note that I’ve seen pop up in discussions about the Golden Eagles. Said note: “THESE LOSSES ARE MAKING MARQUETTE A BUBBLE TEAM!”
Yeah, that’s not true.
I’m not saying that the losses are good, mind you. They are, in fact, bad. But they’re collectively bad, not individually bad.
Let’s dive in with Marquette’s NET details as of the morning of Friday, March 6, 2020.
NET Ranking: #25
Quadrant 1 Record: 5-9
Quadrant 2 Record: 6-2
Quadrant 3 Record: 2-0
Quadrant 4 Record: 5-0
It’s those zeroes in the Q3 and Q4 that are important here. Marquette has no bad losses dragging them down. That’s a major reason why they’re in very little danger of missing the field of 68.
Let’s look at another item. Those five Quadrant 1 wins aren’t a big number of wins, of course. But they are a notable number. If you want to make an argument that Marquette actually is a bubble team, then you need to make a list of teams that clearly have a better resume than Marquette. Starting that list with teams that have more Q1 wins is a pretty good place to start.
There are just 20 teams with more Quadrant 1 wins than Marquette. 15 of them are in the 24 teams ranked higher than the Golden Eagles in the NET, which we already knew were better than MU just based on the NET ranking. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of teams with five Q1 wins out there that you could argue are better than Marquette, and I’m not trying to tell you that San Diego State (4-0 vs Quadrant 1 opponents) is worse than MU here.
But between autobids from major conferences and 36 at-large bids, you need to come up with at least 40 teams to objectively say that the Golden Eagles are a bubble team. After all, the cut line for at-large teams comes in the First Four, which is usually in the 11 and 12 seed range. Four teams per seed times 11 groups = 44 teams between the top of the seed list and where the bubble range actually exists. The Golden Eagles seem to be very much coming in right around #20 or #25, or #30, roughly speaking, and that’s nowhere near the edge.
Let’s go check out some bracketologies from around the internet to drive this point home. Each one will be marked with a date, and remember, Marquette lost to DePaul on March 3rd, so anything dated after that is taking that loss into account.
SB Nation (3/6): Chris Dobbertean literally has Marquette one spot outside his list of locks right now. That was the theme of Friday morning’s update, where he has the top 7 seeds in every region as locked into the field now. The Golden Eagles are his top #8 seed right now, alongside LSU, Illinois, and Saint Mary’s. That means a first round matchup against a #9 seed, which would mean someone from the group of Florida, Indiana, or Oklahoma. Providence is also in the 9s, but MU can’t face them in the first round. Other than MU and PC, there are five more Big East teams in the field: Villanova (#2), Seton Hall (#2), Creighton (#3), Butler (#5), and Xavier (#10).
ESPN (3/6): Over at the Worldwide Leader, Marquette is a #7 seed. That has them in the West Region, but playing their first round game in Saint Louis. It means a first round game against #10 Oklahoma, and a potential second round game against either #2 Louisville or #15 UC Irvine. Joe Lunardi has six other Big East teams in his field: Seton Hall (#2), Villanova (#3), Creighton (#4), Butler (#5), Providence (#8), and Xavier (#11). The Musketeers are in the First Four, though.
CBS Sports (3/6): Would you prefer to see the Golden Eagles headed to the east coast? Jerry Palm has Marquette in the West Region as a #7 seed facing #10 seed Oklahoma, but this game is in Greensboro, North Carolina. It’s paired with 2/15 game that gives MU a potential second round opponent of either Maryland or Colgate. There are six other Big East teams in his field: Villanova (#2), Seton Hall (#3), Creighton (#3), Butler (#5), Providence (#9), and Xavier (#9).
The Athletic ($) (3/6): I’d say that this setup is a little bit more beneficial to Marquette in terms of fan travel, but hey, the Golden Eagles get good crowds no matter where they go. Brian Bennett has Marquette in the Midwest Region as the #7 seed. That gives them a first round game against #10 Texas Tech. The game is scheduled for Cleveland, Ohio, where a potential second round game against #2 Michigan State or #15 Radford awaits. Bennett includes six more Big East teams in his field: Seton Hall (#2), Villanova (#3), Creighton (#3), Butler (#5), Providence (#9), and Xavier (#10).
T-Rank (3/6, 1:43pm): As was the case last time we did one of these bracketology checks, T-Ranketology isn’t telling you what the field is right now, but instead what it projects to look like when all the games are played. With that in mind, and with the fact that it’s not factoring conference tournament games other than the ones that have already been played or are already scheduled to be played..... Marquette is a #7 seed. Their partners on the seed line are Arizona, Colorado, and Houston. That would mean a first round game against a #10 seed, which currently lines up as Oklahoma, LSU, or USC, with Xavier turning up there as a team that MU can not play in the first round. Here’s where the other six Big East teams in the field fall in: Villanova (#2), Seton Hall (#3), Creighton (#3), Butler (#4), Providence (#8), and Xavier (#10).
Bracket Matrix (3/6 AM): As always, we close with the Matrix, as it’s an average of 94 different brackets from all around the internet. Here, Marquette has an average seed of 7.81, which slots them in as a #8 seed. There’s familiar names there with them: Houston, Saint Mary’s, and LSU. The #9 seeds, aka the potential opponents, are familiar as well: Florida, USC, and Indiana, with Providence also in the group. The other Big East squads seem to be in the same spots you might expect: Villanova (#2), Seton Hall (#2), Creighton (#3), Butler (#5), Providence (#9), and Xavier (#10).