JEFF: Re-Marq-able Turnaround
By Jeff Falconio
Marquette's 30 point win over Big East bottom feeder Rutgers should come as no surprise. What is surprising is the way the Golden Eagles have turned a corner over the last two weeks. Earlier in the month I stated on the air that Marquette looked very much like a bubble team. The Eagles were not playing good basketball and as a result started slipping into the big mess of teams right in the thick of the Big East. The problem with a 16 team conference is that it's easy to get lost in the shuffle and that's exactly where Marquette was after back-to-back losses to Louisville and Notre Dame.
It all changed last week with a road win against Seton Hall and now the Eagles are riding a four game winning streak. This team looks far different than it did back on February 9. Marquette has re-established its defense and Tom Crean has his guys doing what you're supposed to do in late February. The Eagles are playing attacking, aggressive basketball, playing to their own tempo, and building momentum heading into March, which includes a showdown with Georgetown in one week.
There's an added benefit to playing well this time of year. As always, the top four teams in the Big East get a first round bye in the conference tournament. Right now, Marquette is fifth. Getting that bye is big because it gives you an extra day of rest and allows you to beef up your NCAA Tournament credentials without having to overextend yourself. Remember Syracuse two years ago. The Orange entered the Big East tourney squarely on the bubble and in need of a few wins. Syracuse ran the table and won the conference tourney by playing their best basketball of the season. However, in doing so the Orange wore themselves out and lost in the first round of the NCAAs to 12 seed Texas A&M. Now, Marquette won't be a bubble team when the conference tourney begins, but power conference tourneys are often more of a curse than a blessing for those trying to get the attention of the selection committee. The fewer amount of games you have to play the better and the only way Marquette can do is that is to keep winning.