Marquette has beaten two ranked teams in its past two games and is a very impressive 12-4 – tied for second in the deepest conference in college basketball – as it heads to the East Coast for the last two games of the season. The Golden Eagles are now No. 15 in the country, and the program is coming off two consecutive Sweet Sixteen appearances.
Someone told me Sunday that Marquette was hitting its stride at the perfect time and that the team should at least make the Sweet Sixteen, if not the Elite Eight.
Despite how successful the Golden Eagles have been this season, no one else who follows them seems to share that positivity. Whether it’s that they can’t win on the road or they don’t have a “go-to guy” that apparently every team in college basketball needs, no one believes this Marquette team can mirror its accomplishments of the past two NCAA Tournaments.
This team has just as much potential as last year’s team to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. I see no reason to believe the Golden Eagles won’t get to a third-straight Sweet Sixteen or advance even further.
Buzz Williams’ team has lost four of its past six on the road, and those two wins were convincing performances against South Florida and Seton Hall. The Golden Eagles started out slow in all four losses, and only in the game at Cincinnati did they come back and look like they had a real shot at victory.
I don’t believe a team can go 16-0 on its home court but be completely incapable of winning on the road.
Marquette can win on the road. The team fought its way to a victory in Pittsburgh, and while it did lose at Cincinnati, Louisville and Georgetown, I don’t know why that’s such an awful thing. The loss at Villanova wasn’t good, but the Golden Eagles took Cincinnati to overtime and almost pulled out a victory. If they had squeaked out a win in that game, would we still be discussing road woes? They lost a close game, and in games like that, the home team usually comes out on top in college basketball.
As for having a go-to scorer, Marquette has two post players who are getting going at the perfect time. There are not many teams in the country with guys like Chris Otule and Davante Gardner coming off the bench. That alone is a big boost.
While Vander Blue still tries to figure out how to finish games, Todd Mayo has stepped up his scoring, and Junior Cadougan has shown his ability to come to the team’s rescue plenty of times this season.
I’m not guaranteeing an Elite Eight appearance or another Sweet Sixteen run, but it’s definitely possible. Regardless of whether Marquette wins both, one or neither of its final two games, other teams will be hoping to avoid the Golden Eagles when March Madness starts becoming hectic.