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Nobody believes in Marquette….really

Let’s be honest for a minute here. There is no concept more abused and improperly applied than an athlete’s “Nobody Believes in Us” mantra.

Whether an underdog or 15-point favorite, teams will always find some slight to lack of respect given by fan, foe or father to will themselves to an inspired performance.

I’m sick of it.

It seems like anything as insignificant as a 140-character tweet that isn’t worshipful of a team’s chances or a player’s ability gets blown up into a huge story and pinned on non-existent bulletin boards.

Enough. If I have sufficient motivation to stop eating chips and salsa and hit the park for some pickup ball, I’m sure these athletes with their reputation and (for some) millions of dollars on the line can draw inspiration without reaching into the recycled bag of useless cliches.

And then I started reading the national previews for tonight’s Sweet 16 matchup between Marquette and Miami. Forget everything I just said.

By the looks of things, Marquette is the worst team to ever make it past the round-of-32 in the history of the NCAA Tournament, and happens to be matched up with the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats. This hyperbole is particularly troubling because it isn’t that far from reality, according to the national media.

Preview after preview, blog after blog, video after video and Marquette is nothing more than a team whose best player is none other than lady luck herself.

Now, I’m not saying it’s incorrect to pick Miami as a favorite to advance. I would argue the same thing if I was in their position having seen four Marquette games all season, with two of those being last weekend. I do get that Miami is uber-talented and a No. 2 seed for a reason.

What I don’t understand is the way pundits have brushed off a 14-4 conference record so easily. It’s all about effort and luck to them. Yet, no amount of grit or heart will win you a share of the Big East conference championship. Of all the links I have attached below, only one mentions this seemingly unimportant detail.

When asked by the Journal-Sentinel if that was a motivating factor, Vander Blue responded affirmatively.

“We saw Yahoo or ESPN did the rankings of the Sweet 16, and they actually put us last. It’s everything we’ve gone through all year. We were projected to be seventh in the Big East and we ended up taking a share of that. Everybody had us losing to Davidson, if I’m not mistaken. We got past Butler, everyone projected us to lose. They actually put up an article saying that we lost – before the game was over and they had to go back and (re-)do it. Coach actually showed us that. So we’ve been underdogs all year.

“I sort of like being the underdog. I like being the hunter instead of being the hunted.”

Not convinced Marquette has been getting a short shrift in the media? Take a look at all the links I could find previewing the game in one way or another as of late Wednesday. I will keep adding to them throughout the day, but I doubt the pattern changes.

(Editors note: I have added all italics in the quotes below for added emphasis.)

———————————————————————————-

Dick Vitale
Miami over Marquette
The Golden Eagles have been the perfect example of survive and advance, winning two games by a total of three points.  Rion Brown came through big-time in a hard-fought win over Illinois.

Seth Davis
Miami 65, Marquette 61
This is the third year in a row that Marquette has made the Sweet 16, and in the last two cases the Golden Eagles went no further. There is a reason for both sides of that equation. Marquette wins games in the NCAA tournament because of its culture, guile and coaching. It falls short of the Final Four because it doesn’t quite have elite-level talent. In Miami, Marquette will face a team that is just as tough, especially on the defensive end. (The Hurricanes placed three players on the ACC’s all-defense team, including league Defensive Player of the Year Durand Scott.) It will definitely be harder for Miami to win this game without center Reggie Johnson, who had surgery to repair a meniscus in his knee and will not play this week. But even without Johnson, Miami can score more easily, and in more ways, than Marquette can, and in the end that will be the difference.

Patrick Stevens, Special for USA TODAY Sports
No. 2 Miami vs. No. 3 Marquette (Thursday 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS): Whether it’s the folksy Texan Buzz Williams or the garrulous New Yorker Jim Larranaga, the tournament is guaranteed an especially chatty coach in the regional final.

It’s also guaranteed a fairly smart team, too.

The Hurricanes aren’t a carbon copy of Larranaga’s 2006 Final Four team at George Mason, which went through Verizon Center to reach the final weekend (just like this year’s Miami team will have to). But they play great defense, have a strong backcourt at both ends with Shane Larkin and Durand Scott and pose a tough matchup with Kenny Kadji at the four.

Marquette … well, Marquette rebounds, makes a decent percentage of free throws and most of all takes optimal shots. The Golden Eagles shot 46.7 percent in the regular season, which is particularly remarkable when you think about Marquette’s reputation as a grind-it-out, hustling team that makes the most of its talent.

Part of that is taking smart shots and remaining poised. It helps explain the rally against Davidson (as does the Wildcats’ forgettable end-game turnover) and then the comeback against Butler. Miami’s a better foe, but still beatable. This one could and should go down to the wire in D.C., with a slight edge to the Hurricanes.

Chris Strauss, USA TODAY Sport
12. Marquette
Chris Farley graduated from the Milwaukee school in 1986. As gritty of a team as Buzz Williams’ Golden Eagles are, let’s see them show this kind of motor.

Ranking the Sweet 16 matchups, Jeff Borzello, No. 6
No. 2 Miami vs. No. 3 Marquette (Thursday, 7:15 p.m., CBS):
By seed, this could be one of the better games of the weekend. Miami will be without big man Reggie Johnson, although he has generally struggled since returning from injury back in January. Julian Gamble will likely get most of the minutes, but he and Tonye Jekiri will have to battle Davante Gardner in the post. There is also a ton of perimeter talent, with Vander Blue and Shane Larkin playing well.

Ranking the Watchability of the Sweet Sixteen matchups
NBC Sports
8.  (3) Marquette vs. (2) Miami (CBS):
 Someone had to be the eight seed here. This game will be tough to watch because Marquette went through a couple of point-guard deficient mid-majors to get to the Sweet 16, and they’re about to get exposed. Shane Larkin has proved himself equal to the pressure of the national tournament, and the Hurricanes may well turn this into a laugher. Also, the eyeball impact of Marquette’s road unis and Miami’s highlighter-pen-inspired shoes will be devastating. One thing that might push this one higher in the end: the possibility of another brilliant Julian Gamble photobomb.

Sweet 16 Preview: Marquette vs Miami
Gottlieb and Allie LaForce

Seth Greenberg Video preview

Five bold predictions for the Sweet 16, Myron Medcalf
Miami to Final Four — Entering the NCAA tournament, the knock against the Hurricanes was their lack of NCAA tournament experience. I think their game experience, however, was overlooked. This is a team with nine upperclassmen. It also helps that Jim Larranaga is a true coaching veteran. There was certainly controversy in the final minutes of the Canes’ win over Illinois on Sunday. But Miami neutralized the Illini’s greatest weapon (Illinois went 7-for-27 from the 3-point line). I believe the Hurricanes will beat Marquette and Indiana will knock off Syracuse. That will set up a meeting with a Miami squad that hasn’t lost since early March. There will be so much pressure on the Hoosiers in that game. Tom Crean has been credited with the program’s revival. He has earned it. But now, Indiana enters the second weekend of the tournament and it’s supposed to win two games. That’s the bar now. The Hoosiers have never faced those circumstances under Crean. The Hurricanes are not playing with that pressure. They have the length and talent (see Shane Larkin) to match Indiana. And I just think they’ll be the more relaxed squad, too. That will help in a game they’ll win. Next stop: Atlanta.

The Sweet 16’s pressure meter, Jason King
Marquette
: Buzz Williams has led the Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season, but no one saw this one coming. Marquette lost leading scorer Darius Johnson-Odom and Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder from last season’s team and somehow managed to get better. Not many teams in America play as hard on the defensive end as the Golden Eagles, but they are a terrible jump-shooting team that often labors to score. Williams’ team has won six games during the past month, and all of the victories have come by single digits. Its first two NCAA tournament wins (against Davidson and Butler) came by a combined three points. Miami is much better than either of those teams. Marquette’s good fortune will run out against the Hurricanes, but that shouldn’t do anything to tarnish an incredible season that included a share of the Big East championship. Williams did as good a job as any coach in America in 2012-13. Pressure meter: 3

Mike Decourcy, ranking Sweet 16 teams
No. 12 A couple of close tournament calls led to a Sweet 16 appearance. That’s a heck of a season. The Golden Eagles certainly have the ability to beat Miami and turn that Sweet 16 into an Elite Eight. That’s a great season.

SBNation Sweet 16 Power Rankings
No. 14 It took two nail-biting games, but Marquette has made it to the Sweet 16. Surprisingly, the tournament’s worst long-range shooting team relied on clutch three-point shooting to get this far. With its tough nature, the Golden Eagles might not have the best team in the field, but it will take their opponent’s best effort to knock them out.

Jeff Borzello reseeding the field, CBS Sports
No. 13 The Golden Eagles came back to beat Davidson in the final seconds, then held off Butler in the last minute to advance to the Sweet 16. They ned to play consistently for 40 minutes.

Reseeding the Sweet 16 field, Myron Medcalf
16. Marquette (4-seed; was No. 3 in the East): How does he do it? How does Buzz Williams continue to lead the Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16? This is a Marquette squad that somehow secured a slice of the Big East title despite its struggles outside Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles won multiple overtime games and thrillers in the regular season. Seems like no matter what Marquette does, it ultimately ends up with the victory. The Golden Eagles needed a crazy stretch in the final minute to beat Davidson in their first NCAA tourney matchup and another bizarre sequence down the stretch to defeat Butler. Things certainly could have gone either way for this team, though.

ESPN Writers roundtable: Sweet 16 edition
No mention

USA TODAY, Sweet 16 breakdown from our NCAA tournament experts
No mention

Chat with Dana O’Neil
Matt (Milwaukee) 
Hi Dana – love your work and all your Big East coverage! Why can’t Marquette get any respect nationally? They have made the Sweet 16 for a third straight year, but all the pundits say they are simply “fortunate” or “lucky” and ESPN ranks Marquette last of the remaining 16 teams!! Give Buzz and his boys some credit!!!!

Dana O’Neil (2:10 PM) Matt: I definitely wouldn’t call them lucky. I mean that Davidson finish was bizarre but this team has been steady all season. THat’s not luck. To rebuild like Buzz has is incredibly impressive. Now all that said, don’t have them winning. Sorry.

Updated:

On the record: Expert predictions
Eamonn Brennan: Indiana over Marquette
Fran Fraschilla: Indiana over Miami
John Gasaway: Indiana over Miami
Seth Greenberg: Miami over Indiana
Andy Katz: Indiana over Miami
Jason King: Indiana over Miami
Myron Medcalf: Miami over Indiana
Dana O’Neil: Indiana over Miami
Bruce Pearl: Miami over Syracuse
Robbi Pickeral: Miami over Indiana
Dick Vitale: Indiana over Miami

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Nobody, literally, believes in them. All 17 links have someone other than Marquette winning, with reasonable analysis a scarce commodity.

Is it any surprise I now believe in “Nobody Believes in Us?”

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5 Comments on “Nobody believes in Marquette….really”

  1. mp709
    March 28, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    WE BELIEVE. That’s all that matters. GO MARQUETTE.

  2. March 28, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    I always enjoy Andrei’s articles on this site.

  3. March 28, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Good write up, Andrei. I have no doubt that we win tonight, not because of karma or luck, but because Miami simply doesn’t have the depth and interior defense without Johnson to stop us. Their bigs will be in foul trouble before the end of the first half and Larkin will look like Tu Holloway.

  4. Jakebarnes
    March 28, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    Honestly, the only one in the national media that has given Marquette any love against Miami is Alaa Abdelnaby (CBS Sports Roundtable). He referred to the Warriors (his word) as the Rodney Dangerfield team (“Cant get no respect”) and had them losing to Indiana in the Elite 8. Probably the only person that has used the words “completely underrated scorers” and “Marquette” in the same sentence.

  5. Anonymous
    March 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    “On the record: Expert predictions
    Eamonn Brennan: Indiana over Marquette”

    Our boy Eamonn believes we can upset Miami….just not get to the Final Four.

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