Marquette Golden Eagles
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Second Round loss to Stanford
Coach: Buzz Williams (First NCAA appearance)
Why They Can Surprise:
Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews formed a great trio of senior guards. Without James, Marquette lost their final four Big East regular season games, but a lot of that had to do with a brutal schedule. The Golden Eagles were actually highly competitive against UCONN and at Louisville.
McNeal does everything. Even if he does not score 20 points in the game, he can still grab six rebounds, dish out six assists and nab three steals. McNeal’s turnovers can still be a problem, but he is down to 2.6 turnovers per game this year, compared to 2.8 last season and 4.1 the previous year. Matthews uses his strength and speed to drive the lane and attack the glass on both ends of the floor.
Why They Can Disappoint:
For a team that has two great guards that combine for almost 40 points per game, they sure are streaky shooters. However, that has begun to change this year, especially for McNeal. He shot over 47 percent from beyond the arc during his senior campaign and that is why Marquette has gone from a Second Round exit last year to a possible Final Four team this year. The real problem is in the frontcourt. Lazar Hayward has emerged as a more than capable scorer from inside and out, but the lack of bulk is a problem on the defensive side of the court. The Golden Eagles rarely block a shot and that leads to some easy buckets for the opposition.
Who To Watch:
The frontcourt is nowhere near as talented as the backcourt, but the group has done a good job accomplishing what the team needs them to. The undersized Lazar Hayward has really burst onto the scene as a junior. The 6-6 Buffalo, NY native is a dynamic scorer who can use his wide 225 pound body to battle in the paint or step outside and hit the mid-range jumper. Dwight Burke has stepped into the other starting frontcourt position, but he averages less than 20 minutes per game. Patrick Hazel and Jimmy Butler are the other options at the four spot and somebody has to at least give Coach Buzz Williams some defensive intensity and rebounding from that position if Marquette wants to make a deep NCAA Tournament run.
Maurice Acker, Junior, Guard
Jerel McNeal, Senior, Guard
Wesley Matthews, Senior, Guard
Dwight Burke, Senior, Forward
Lazar Hayward, Junior, Forward
Jimmy Butler, Sophomore, Guard
Patrick Hazel, Sophomore, Forward
+ Following final Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!