Sweet Sixteen mandatory for Marquette

Matthew Trebby
Matthew Trebby

After Marquette beat St. John’s to win a share of the Big East regular season championship, it had to be assumed a run in the conference tournament would follow.

In the final tournament involving this version of the Big East, it was the perfect time for the Golden Eagles to make a run past Notre Dame into the semifinals and beyond. They didn’t, and in the process they brought back to light everything they don’t do well – mainly playing away from the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

That doesn’t mean Marquette can’t make a run in the NCAA tournament. The team’s experience will overshadow its road deficiencies, and the Golden Eagles will be playing in the Sweet Sixteen again.

Marquette needs to be in the Sweet Sixteen again. If the Golden Eagles aren’t playing in Washington, D.C., in more than a week and a half, this season would be a failure.

After the game against St. John’s, Buzz Williams told media he wanted his team to start getting some credit. He noted his team’s alleged inability to win on the road and its winning record on the road this season. Counting the games played at neutral sites, though, Marquette’s record is under .500 at 7-8.

Regardless of whether Williams wants people to ignore that and give his team credit, it is worrying. Can they really win three games or more on neutral sites and make it further in the NCAA tournament than the past two seasons?

They can. Their draw against Davidson isn’t as bad as people think. Yes, the Wildcats are a good team. They haven’t lost in more than two months and have three All-Southern League players on the team.

But their best win this season is against Richmond, a team that was 18-14 this season in the Atlantic 10. They also lost to UW-Milwaukee early in the season. The Panthers went through a down year, to put it kindly.

While Bob McKillop is a “top 10” coach in the country according to Buzz Williams, there is no Stephen Curry on this Davidson team.

There’s no reason it shouldn’t advance to the Sweet Sixteen. It’s better than Butler and would have beaten it earlier this season if Rotnei Clarke hadn’t pulled one of the best shots I’ve ever seen out of his bag of tricks.

After two straight Sweet Sixteen appearances, another one would be nice, but nice isn’t good enough. An Elite Eight – or even Final Four – berth would elevate the program to new heights.

While this Marquette team has accomplished a lot already, it needs to do more. If it can avoid playing like it did in the final 30 minutes against Notre Dame, it’ll be moving on to our nation’s capital for the Sweet Sixteen.