What do you call Cinderella, when she doesn't really look like a Cinderella? You call her the Marquette Golden Eagles. It is not hard to figure out why. Even though they are playing in the South Region which is pretty loaded, they are primed to go at least 2 rounds.
First off, they play in the rough and ready Big East. Their conference record was 11-7 which was good. A look at their key wins tells us more. They beat a good Wisconsin team on the road, and they also took out Notre Dame twice. Notre Dame is a 5 seed in the East, and Wisconsin is a 3 seed in the Midwest. They have beaten Pittsburgh who won the Big East Tournament and is a very physical team. They did lose to Louisville twice, which is nothing to be ashamed of, and Louisville got a 3 seed.
Can we go a little deeper? Marquette excels at small ball and excellent defense. They are led by junior guard Dominic James, and Jerel McNeil. James has had some injury problems that kept his scoring average down, but he soared in the Big East tournament. He put up 25 and 23 against Villanova and Notre Dame respectively. The real story has been the play of McNeil. He led the team in scoring and was the Big East defensive player of the year.
Wes Mathews is also playing well and is a key part of their 3 headed monster at guard. Marquette doesn't have a true big man, but their forwards have improved their rebounding as the season went on.
They struggled earlier in the year because teams out-muscled them inside, but they have come a long way since then. Ousmane Barro has stepped up his play in the latter half, and Lazar Hayward, their power forward, averages 13 points per game at 6 foot 6.
First up for the Golden Eagles is Kentucky. They rely on their guards also. Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford provide a lot of the offense for Kentucky. Marquette matches up well because it will be easier for them to guard their perimeter players. The only team that gave them problems was Louisville because their skilled players are a little better.
Kentucky had a hard time slowing Georgia down, and they will have a harder time with Marquette.
Stanford will be up next for Marquette and that will be an interesting match-up, and a contrast in styles. Stanford will try to beat up Marquette with their 7 foot twins, Brook and Robin Lopez who reek havoc on opposing teams on both ends of the court. Pressure can bother them (Stanford) and take them out of their half court sets, which Marquette will have to do while playing up-tempo basketball to make it a track meet.
They must also make shots and rebound defensively so Stanford's bigs don't take over the game. I like Marquette because of their style, and the conference they play in.
The Cinderella slipper will fit just fine.