This past Saturday afternoon, Marquette basketball did what they have done all season. Against a highly ranked Villanova team, the Golden Eagles were able to play the Wildcats tight. Another clutch performance by Todd Mayo down the stretch forced overtime and a chance for the Golden Eagles to garner their first quality win of the year. Once again, in a testament to what this season has been like, Marquette fell apart in the extra session and lost 94-85. Coach Buzz Williams summed it up perfectly when he stated that his team “fought hard to get into overtime” but choked.
Entering Thursday’s tilt with Providence (15-5, 5-2 Big East), Marquette sits at 11-9, 3-4 Big East without a quality win to their credit. If they even have a remote shot of being considered a bubble team come Selection Sunday, they have to put their early season problems behind them. The Golden Eagles must accumulate enough upsets and take care of business against inferior ball clubs, in order to impress the committee come March. Here is my prediction for the final eleven regular season games for Marquette.
1/30/14 vs. Providence
Providence has been the surprise story of the Big East this season. Entering the game on a five game win streak, the Friars beat teams with gritty defense and dictating the pace of the game. Ranked 294th in the nation in shooting, Marquette can win this game if they are able to put their own shooting woes aside.
Prediction: Providence 79 Marquette 73
02/01/14 at St. John’s
This will be the first matchup of the year between the Golden Eagles and the Red Storm (12-9, 2-6 Big East). The Red Storm almost upset Creighton on Tuesday. Just like Marquette, St. John’s does not have any quality wins to their credit, but played tough against Ohio State and Wisconsin. Guard D’Angelo Harrison has bounced back from his concussion and continues to be a scoring threat with 17.7 PPG. Forcing him to take contested threes will be the key to shutting him down.
Prediction: Marquette 75 St. John’s 70
02/04/14 vs Butler
The first time these two teams met, Butler pulled away in overtime, winning 69-57 for their only conference win of the year to this point. Most people sipping the “Marquette kool-aid” would point to the difficulty of playing at Hinkle Fieldhouse as the reason for the loss. This did play a factor in the defeat, but Marquette’s inability to produce in overtime was the biggest reason. In the familiarity of the Bradley Center, Marquette will be able to control the pace of the game. The only question is if they can shut down Khyle Marshall and Kellen Dunham.
Prediction: Marquette 68 Butler 59
02/11/14 at Seton Hall
On January 11th, Marquette was able to squeak by Seton Hall with a 67-66 victory. Now playing them on the road, the Golden Eagles must put away the Pirates when they get the chance. They can do this by playing forty minutes of basketball with the same energy they showed in the first half of their previous meeting with the Pirates. Taking advantage of Seton Hall’s inability to rebound (231st in the nation) would also help their cause.
Prediction: Seton Hall 70 Marquette 65
02/15/14 vs Xavier
Semaj Christon dropped a career high 28 points in Xavier’s win against the Golden Eagles earlier this year. Labeled as the Big East team that has an outside chance of making a run come NCAA tournament time, this is a quality win Marquette desperately needs. Davante Gardner has to rebound this time around; something he did not do last time these two teams saw each other.
Prediction: Xavier 82 Marquette 77
02/19/14 vs Creighton
This is the game that scares me the most. On New Year’s Eve, Doug McDermott and the Blue Jays trampled over the Golden Eagles 67-49. Creighton’s ability to spread the floor and distribute the basketball will cause havoc for Marquette again. Do not be surprised if McDermott drops thirty in this contest.
Prediction: Creighton 75 Marquette 62
This should be an easy win for the Golden Eagles in what is the worst border rivalry in sports. In the first meeting of the season, DePaul hung on for three-fourths of the game. Star Cleveland Melvin has the ability to take over the game. Look forward to Melvin and Todd Mayo battling it out just like in the first game. Marquette’s depth will be the key to victory in Rosemont.
Prediction: Marquette 67 DePaul 61
02/27/14 vs Georgetown
In the game that should forever be labeled as John Dawson’s coming out party, Marquette beat the Hoyas 80-72 in overtime on January 20th. If I was Buzz, I would play Dawson and Steve Taylor Jr a decent amount of minutes due to the fact that they have shown that they can do well against what Georgetown brings defensively.
Prediction: Marquette 72 Georgetown 67
03/02/14 at Villanova
The Golden Eagles played Villanova tight until overtime in their first contest against them this season. Marquette displayed that they can compete against Villanova if they are able to shut down JayVaughn Pinkston. The question remains if they can shut down the three guard tandem of James Bell, Darrun Hilliard II and Ryan Arcidiacono, who accounted for 70 of Villanova’s 94 points.
Prediction: Villanova 87 Marquette 76
03/04/14 at Providence
By this time in the year, I believe it will be obvious that Marquette cannot beat legitimate teams on the road. The Friars will prove that their early season success was not a fluke. What would be intriguing to watch is if Buzz finally starts to give his underclassmen more minutes.
Prediction: Providence 71 Marquette 63
In the final home game of the year, Marquette fans will get to say good-bye to seniors Jamil Wilson, Davante Gardner, Chris Otule, and Jake Thomas. They will also get to bid adieu to the wreckage that was the 2013-2014 season. The four seniors will leave the team on a high note, winning the ballgame to push the Golden Eagles into the CBI.
Prediction: Marquette 70 St. John’s 63
Final Regular Season Record: 16-15, 8-10 Big East
Entering the Big East tournament, Marquette will need a miracle to make it to the dance. If they win two games in the tourney, they have an outside shot to at least make the NIT. This is a program where anything less than an NCAA appearance is deemed a failure. It would be a fitting omen of the season to see Marquette come close, but fall short in their pursuit of playing in March Madness.