After winning the 2022-23 Big East regular season and tournament, the Marquette Golden Eagles were awarded with the two-seed in the East portion of the 2023 NCAA Tournament bracket. In one of the better seasons in Marquette basketball history, the Golden Eagles will look to win its first championship since 1977.
Despite not getting one of the top four seeds, there is still a clear path to the Final Four for the Golden Eagles. So, how far can Marquette go in the NCAA Tournament?
Marquette NCAA Tournament Preview
Overall Record: 28-6
Conference Record: 17-3
Record vs. Ranked Teams: 7-2
Marquette Basketball KenPom Rankings
|12||119.3 (8)||97.5 (47)||68.4 (135)||+8.67 (39)|
Road to the Final Four | Bracketology
The Marquette Golden Eagles come into the 2023 NCAA Men’s tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country. With nine straight wins, the Golden Eagles will look to build upon the recent success. They open the NCAA Tournament with a game against the Vermont Catamounts. While Vermont seems to be a staple in recent NCAA Tournaments, this year’s team is not nearly as good as the past. KenPom currently has the Catamounts ranked as the 113th-best team in the country. The Catamounts are led by Dylan Penn, who scores 13.5 points per game. Outside of Penn though, Vermont features two guards, Finn Sullivan and Aaron Deloney, who score 11 points per game each. As a team, Vermont excels at shooting the three, making 36% of those shots.
Looking beyond Vermont, Marquette will most likely take on the winner of the game between Michigan State and USC. Both teams have had up and down years, but both are led by two of the best coaches in the game, Tom Izzo and Andy Enfield. Michigan State features a classic Izzo-coached team, where the team does not excel in any one spot. Instead, they are solid in everything. What is different about this team is the absence of a star player. While they could give Marquette a good game, I can’t imagine it will be anything crazy. As for USC, the Trojans make their money on the defensive side of the ball, often limiting second chances and open shots. Led by Boogie Ellis, who scores 18 points per game, USC is another team who can give Marquette a scare but shouldn’t be that big of a problem.
How Far Can Marquette Basketball Go in the NCAA Tournament?
How Far Could They Go?
To be honest, the answer to this question is that the Golden Eagles can win a championship. I mean, why can’t they? Led by Shaka Smart, Marquette basketball features four players who score in double figures and five who score over nine points per game. Though Kam Jones leads the team in scoring at 15 points per game, Tyler Kolek was named Big East Player of the Year. Kolek is a junior point guard who passes just as well as he scores, with 13.3 points per game and 7.7 assists per game. Inside, Marquette starts Oso Ighodaro, who contributes 11.4 points per game and six rebounds.
As a team, Marquette basketball scores 79.9 points per game, which puts them at 19th in the country. While the Golden Eagles shoot a fine 35% from the three-point line as a team, they more than make up for it on the defensive side of the ball, with nine blocks and three steals per game. What is most encouraging about Marquette though is their ability to play and beat good teams. Connecticut has been everybody’s darling all year, but Marquette has beaten them twice. Xavier, who was awarded a three-seed in the tournament, suffered two losses as well to the Golden Eagles. In the Big East, which may have been the second or third-best conference all year, Marquette has win streaks of five, five and nine games. Marquette is battle-tested and should use that experience to propel themselves in the tournament.
How Far Will They Go?
As I stated before, I think that the Marquette basketball team should be able to make it to the Sweet 16. Michigan State is the team out of the three that could give them the most guff. But, as I also stated before, Sparty may be lacking in talent. In my mind, the first real test comes in a potential Sweet 16 matchup against Kansas State. The Wildcats fought all year in the Big 12, earning a three-seed in the Big 12 Tournament. Kansas State is led by a backcourt duo of Keyontae Johnson and Marquis Nowell, who combine for just north of 33 points per game. Marquette matches up very well with Kansas State, as the strength of the Marquette basketball team comes from its guards. I can’t see Kolek having too much of a problem trying to manage a game against Johnson. Give me Marquette in that game.
Winning against Kansas State sets up a potential matchup with Purdue in the Elite 8, then Alabama in the Final Four. While Purdue is one of the toughest teams in the country, if Zach Edey is out or limited, they can be beaten. Purdue does not have much talent outside of Edey, so if a team like Marquette can attack inside early with Ighodaro or Jones, Purdue could be beaten.
If Marquette can beat Purdue, I am guessing that they would be matched up with Alabama. This is where the Golden Eagles’ season comes to an end. Alabama is the best team in college basketball and has found success breaking tough defenses. Brandon Miller is just too big and physical for the Golden Eagles.