Skip to content

Time to take Marquette seriously as a Final Four contender

Feb 18, 2012, 2:41 PM EDT

120218-crowder-1

Last Saturday, UConn lost at Syracuse by 18 points, but it wasn’t an 18 point loss. The Huskies were able to stay within striking distance for most of the game, getting as close as one possession multiple times in the second half, before a big Syracuse run closed out the contest.

UConn’s 79-64 loss to No. 12 Marquette at the XL Center in Hartford on Saturday afternoon was as dominating as it looks on paper. Marquette jumped out to a 43-29 lead in the first half, never allowing the Huskies to get closer than four points the rest of the way.

The one thing those two games had in common?

Both Marquette and Syracuse looked like teams capable of making the Final Four. We all know about the Orange. Its kind of hard to sneak up on people when you are sitting at No. 2 in the country, but Marquette is still a bit of a secret. Well, was a bit of a secret, because after this performance on in a game televised on ESPN, the Golden Eagles are going to be a trendy pick to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.

And rightfully so.

There really is not a weakness on this team, which is a testament to the versatility of Buzz Williams’ roster. You see, Marquette is currently playing without the benefit of a big man. Chris Otule is out for the season with a knee injury. Davante Gardner has already been out for a couple weeks and may miss more time. As evidenced on Saturday, the Golden Eagles can hold their own on the block and on the glass against teams with more size and athleticism than them.

Jae Crowder, who may be the nation’s most complete player, matched up with Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi all afternoon, coming down with 12 rebounds and helping to hold them to a combined 17 points and seven boards. On the offensive end of the floor, Crowder showcased just how much of a matchup nightmare he truly is. He went for 29 points, going 8-14 from the floor and 4-7 from three while knocking down 9-10 from the charity stripe. He played a large role in fouling out Drummond.

But Marquette is more than just Crowder, whose back story is as intriguing as his performance this season. Darius Johnson-Odom might be the best wing in the Big East this season, capable going for 24 points on any given night — as he did against UConn — and with a reputation for hitting some big shots. Junior Cadougan is a leader and distributor at the point guard spot. Todd Mayo and Vander Blue provide some athleticism and playmaking on the perimeter, while Jamil Wilson has more than held his own playing as an undersized big man in the absence of Gardner and Otule.

Marquette is also as well-coached as any team in the country. They buy into their coach’s vision and they execute it to perfection. With the smaller lineup, Williams wants his guys to pressure in the back court and to run the floor to offense on makes and misses. Given Marquette’s personnel, its a difficult style for opponents to matchup with.

Difficult enough that Marquette is going to warrant plenty of hype over the final weeks of the season.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Latest Posts
  1. Ohio senior forward contributes to Senegal’s first FIBA worlds victory since 1998

    Aug 31, 2014, 11:43 PM EDT

    Maurice Ndour AP

    The second team All-MAC selection scored eight points in Senegal’s win over Puerto Rico.

  2. In-state forward becomes Kansas State’s second commitment in four days

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    Bruce Weber AP

    Bruce Weber now has three verbal commitments in the Class of 2015.

  3. Nebraska lands commitment from four-star point guard

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:05 PM EDT

    Tim Miles AP

    5-foot-11 point guard Glynn Watson becomes Nebraska’s second 2015 commitment.

  4. Five-star 2015 small forward cuts list to six schools

    Aug 31, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    Slender forward Brandon Ingram is one of the best perimeter prospects in the Class of 2015.

  5. Illinois native becomes Tennessee’s first 2015 commitment

    Aug 31, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpte3owi1njbhnjg0mtc2yjbkzdgzmdzhnzm2mtbjytc1 AP

    Tennessee is on the board in 2015 due to the addition of a versatile 6-foot-5 forward.

  6. North Carolina accepts their head coach’s challenge (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2014, 5:23 PM EDT

    Marcus Paige AP

    Roy Williams challenged his players in the Bahamas, and the accepted it on Saturday afternoon.

  7. Malik Newman to narrow list soon, won’t announce until after season

    Aug 31, 2014, 3:39 PM EDT

    Malik Newman (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Malik Newman is the No. 3 overall recruit, according to Rivals.

  8. Twin brothers commit to Quinnipiac

    Aug 31, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Quinnipiac Athletics Quinnipiac Athletics

    The Robinson brothers are the first two commits in Quinnipiac’s Class of 2015.

  9. Four-star guard New Williams commits to Bruce Pearl and Auburn

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:17 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Bruce Pearl has landed five commitments in 10 days.

  10. The dunks you didn’t see from the Under Armour Elite 24 (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    More dunks from one of the best all-star games of the summer.

  11. Head coach’s son becomes Iowa’s first 2017 commitment

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    mccaffery Getty Images

    Connor McCaffery was expected to play for his father, and he announced the intention to do so Saturday.

  12. Four-star shooting guard to announce decision September 5

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:57 PM EDT

    Jorge Lopez/Nike Jorge Lopez/Nike

    The Floridian averaged 26 points per game as a high school junior.

  13. SMU center’s double-double leads Angola to win at FIBA Basketball World Cup

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    SMU v Memphis Getty Images

    Yanick Moreira missed time last season due to injury, so this month could prove incredibly valuable for both he and the SMU program he’ll rejoin.

  14. Providence’s non-conference slate headlined by Kentucky, four ACC foes

    Aug 30, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Providence is looking to reach consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time since the 1989 and 1990 seasons.

  15. Junior college guard verbally commits to Western Kentucky

    Aug 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Ray Harper Ray Harper

    Franklin Edmond averaged 18.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a freshman.

  16. Two Auburn players taking indefinite leave of absence

    Aug 30, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    After a big recruiting week for Auburn, two players from the current roster are leaving the program.

  17. Cincinnati announces non-conference schedule

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Mick Cronin AP

    Cincinnati has some tough opponents in the non-conference portion of the 2014-15 schedule.

  18. Utah State forward granted sixth year of eligibility by NCAA

    Aug 30, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Stew Morrill AP

    Utah State returns a veteran locker-room presence.

  19. Providence adds late 2014 commitment to bolster guard depth

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Ed Cooley AP

    Providence added another piece for the 2014-15 season late this week.