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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette named NCAA Tournament No. 2 seed for second straight year

Marquette men’s basketball celebrates during its 91-57 win at Georgetown. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

For the second year in a row, No. 10 Marquette men’s basketball is heading back to The Big Dance as a No. 2 seed.

The Golden Eagles (25-9, 14-6 Big East) heard their name called during the NCAA Selection Show Sunday night, earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA South Regional while at the team’s watch party at The Mecca Sports Bar across the street from Fiserv Forum in the Deer District.

The Golden Eagles will travel to Indianapolis to face No. 15 Western Kentucky (22-11) Friday in the First Round.

Marquette head coach Shaka Smart has now taken the Golden Eagles to the NCAA Tournament in each of his three years at the helm.

“I told Stevie, Jop, Kam, I can’t believe it’s three years that we’ve been here at the Mecca celebrating going to the tournament,” Smart said in a press conference. “For us, we’re grateful to be in the tournament. We’re excited to be in the tournament. We’re not satisfied just to be in it…

“More importantly, it’s about being the best us. And that’s what we work toward all year.”

Smart said that senior guard Tyler Kolek — who has missed the last six games due to an oblique injury — is expected to play Friday, but has to go through a progression this week.

“We got back late last night,” Smart said. “I walk back into the office to grab some different things. Tyler walked in and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘I’m going to go do some ball handling.’ He has a level of excitement and passion because he feels like he’s going to play, so now we just have to check the box so that he can.”

Last year, Marquette exited the NCAA Tournament early, falling to No. 7 Michigan State 69-60 in the Second Round, a loss that has motivated junior guard Kam Jones heading into Friday.

“With us, if that Michigan State game last year wasn’t enough, I don’t know if it’s for you,” Jones said.

Western Kentucky defeated University of Texas at El Paso 78-71 Saturday in the Conference USA Tournament championship game to earn an automatic bid. Junior guard Don McHenry (15.2 ppg) is the Hilltoppers’ leading scorer, and a Milwaukee native who junior forward David Joplin knows personally.

“(He’s a) really good scorer, very talented down here,” Joplin said. “(I’m) excited to see him. I’ve never played him before. I’ve always played pickup games around town, so it’s my first time actually playing against him.”

How they got here

Marquette finished with an 11-3 record in non-conference play. Their non-con slate was headlined by big wins, like a 73-59 over then No. 1 Kansas in the Maui Invitational, and crushing losses, like their 75-64 loss at Wisconsin.

Moving into Big East play, the Golden Eagles went 2-3 in their first five conference games and sophomore guard Sean Jones suffered a season-ending ACL injury in that stretch.

Marquette then flipped a switch and won eight straight contests before losing to the then-No. 1 UConn Huskies 81-53 in Hartford, Connecticut.

Kolek suffered an oblique injury in the Golden Eagles’ win over the Providence Friars and was ruled out for the rest of the regular season.

With two more losses coming against Creighton and UConn, Marquette finished Big East play with a 14-6 record and earned a first round bye as the No. 3 seed in the Big East Tournament.

Without Kolek, the Golden Eagles defeated the sixth-seeded Villanova Wildcats and seventh-seeded Providence Friars to return to the Big East Tournament finals for the second-straight year. They were then defeated by the top-ranked Huskies 73-57 in the championship game.

Senior forward Oso Ighodaro and Jones were both named to the Big East All-Tournament Team.

This article was written by Kaylynn Wright. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @KaylynnWrightMU.

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About the Contributor
Kaylynn Wright
Kaylynn Wright, Assistant Sports Editor
Kaylynn Wright is a sophomore from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin studying journalism, and she is an Assistant Sports Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys reading and watching baseball, specifically the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox. She is excited to meet new people and continue to create high-quality sports content for the Wire.

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