Evaluation for Marquette Coming
After disposing of the now NIT-bound Georgetown Hoyas, Marquette began preparing for arguably the toughest three game stretch for any team at any time this year. The road starts in Milwaukee, where the UConn Huskies come to town Wednesday. Then the Golden Eagles travel to Louisville and Pittsburgh for games two and three. Everyone knows about this crazy stretch of games, but one thing not a lot of people question is what to expect from these games. It’s true that with Villanova having just one “losable” game left at Notre Dame, that Marquette will have to go 3-1 to obtain a double-bye in the Big East Tournament. If Nova drops 1 game, Marquette can go 2-2, and so on. But even more simple than wins and losses, I want MU to prove they can play with the best proven teams in the country. Pitt, UConn, Louisville and Villanova have signature wins that have proved they can hang with anyone. Marquette does not. In their defense, they haven’t played a team worthy of that title (and no, Nova does not count). But this is what I am looking for in the next 2 weeks. It is necessary for them to win 1 of these next three games. Not in the sense of wins, losses, byes or rankings, but rather to show themselves that they are on the same level, or at least close, as a top team in the nation. They will be underdogs in each game and it really would not shock me to see them lose all three. I don’t think they will but it could happen. I’ll go out on a real big limb here and say they go 1-2, defeating Louisville. Back to the point, they need to stay competitive in each game and be able to play at their pace. As much as I love our guards, these three teams have the talent advantage on us. Experience and hustle will favor Marquette, and when they get on a run they are tough to stop. Here’s what I am looking for in each game that, in the long run, will say a lot about their ability to succeed on a higher level.
UConn: How does Marquette react to a zone defense that has shot blockers and outstanding post players? The closest thing thy have seen to this was Wisconsin and they looked very out of sync the whole game. Granted that a much different Marquette team, but it happened.
Louisville: How does Marquette play against a team similar to them? Will they get out-hustled like they did in the second Villanova game or be in control of the tempo like they did against Notre Dame and Georgetown?
Pittsburgh: After two exhausting games, how do they rebound from whatever happened in the first two games? Are they able to lock down Levance Fields and force turnovers against a team that does a great job handling the ball?
I hope that these questions are answered all in positive ways during this stretch run. Wins aren’t necessary against these three teams, and while one would be nice, it will say a lot more if they are able to answer questions like these going into March.
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