I’m betting there’s some people around the water cooler (I’m betting because I don’t partake in water coolers or those conversations) who fancy themselves college basketball experts and are thinking that, after Connecticut of course, Marquette might be the class of the Big East.
They might be right. But jumping to rash conclusions is frowned upon here at Rumors and Rants (just kidding), so let’s take a step back and look at this Marquette team to see what we have on our hands.
The Golden Eagles are 20-2 overall, 9-0 in the Big East, have a 12-game winning streak going and are ranked No. 8 in both polls. Very nice.
How? They have perhaps the best group of guards in the country. Our boy Tom Crean left the cupboard stocked for Buzz Williams with Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Dominic James. And Lazar Hayward is a pretty good big.
Aside: One can make a very strong argument for McNeal as Big East Player of the Year, although Luke Harangody is doing his best to repeat right now.
Anyway, Marquette is no doubt very good. Problem is, the worst part of its league schedule hasn’t come up yet.
For Marquette’s sake I gotta hope the Selection Committee takes this into consideration: The Golden Eagles close with probably its four hardest games all in a row: Connecticut, at Louisville, at Pitt and back home against Syracuse.
It’s not dissimilar to what Notre Dame just marched through (and we all saw how that’s worked out, although Marquette is definitely a better team), but the timing of those games is bad. Closing strong has traditionally been something the Committee looks for.
But right now that’s neither here nor there. That stretch at the end of its schedule will tell us more about Marquette, much more than beating DePaul or struggling teams like Notre Dame and Georgetown.
Until we have that knowledge, we can’t really know whether Marquette can play at the top of the Big East. By the second week of March, of course, that will all be out in the open.