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Marquette’s end of season scenarios

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Photo by Ryan Messier

After Marquette’s losses to Butler and Providence in late January and early February, I officially adjusted my expectations because I believed we had enough evidence that this was an NIT team and nothing more.

Marquette was a DePaul win from making me eat my Tweets, but alas, death by DePaul seems a very appropriate cause of death for such a disjointed season. Still, the math says the NCAA Tournament is still within this team’s grasp, so I thought it would make sense to take a look at some end of season scenarios and what that might mean for Marquette.

We’ll be using TRanks Teamcast tool because it’s the best tool on the planet and was pretty damn accurate all of last season with Marquette. (TRank currently projects Marquette to be the 2nd team out, so a 1-seed in the NIT.) 

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Lose to Creighton

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A loss to Creighton would drop Marquette to the 7th team out in TRank and mean a lot of heavy lifting would need to be done at MSG. 

Lose to Creighton; Lose to St. John’s/DePaul

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Two straight losses obviously ends any chances at the NCAA Tournament, but an NIT home game should still be probable. 

Lose to Creighton; Beat St. John’s/DePaul; Lose to Xavier/Nova

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A loss to Creighton creates a situation where Marquette would need to win at least two games in the Big East Tournament, as you can see, losing to either X or Nova still leaves them pretty far from the cutline as the 7th team out.

Lose to Creighton; Beat St. John’s/DePaul; Beat Xavier/Nova; Lose to Hall/Creighton/Butler

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This is the first result that gets Marquette into the NCAA Tournament, as an 11 seed in the play-in game.

Lose to Creighton; Beat St. John’s/DePaul; Beat Xavier/Nova; Lose to Providence

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We’ll just cut it off here, but you get the idea. If Marquette loses to Creighton on Saturday, it will need to win at least two games at the BET (beating one of Nova or Xavier) and even then it will still be heading to Dayton without a 3rd win at MSG.

Beat Creighton

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A win over Creighton on Saturday will leave Marquette as the first team out heading into the BET, according to TRank. Of course, this is barring any other surprises (positive or negative) from fellow bubblers.

However, there is still some uncertainty in who the initial opponent would be in MSG. If Seton Hall goes 0-2 (Nova/Butler) this week, Marquette would grab the 6 seed via tiebreaker and face the 3 seed instead of St. John’s or DePaul. We’ll add those scenarios below.  

 Beat Creighton (7 seed); Lose to St. John’s/DePaul

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 Beat Creighton (6 seed); Lose to Creighton/Butler/Providence

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So it looks like even one win in the Big East Tournament won’t be enough, no matter who the opponent is. 

Beat Creighton (7 seed); Beat St. John’s; Lose to Nova/Xavier

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Now this is surprising, of Marquette maintains the current 7 seed, just 1 win over St. John’s would be enough to be projected in the tournament as the top team in the play-in game. 

Beat Creighton (7 seed); Beat DePaul; Lose to Nova/Xavier

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But if Marquette keeps the 7th seed and DePaul ends up taking the 10th seed, it puts Marquette as the last team in the play-in game. I’m guessing this has to do with St. John’s being a road game instead of a neutral one (and that their RPI is much higher than DePaul’s).

Beat Creighton (6 seed); Beat Butler/Creighton/Providence; Lose to Nova/Xavier

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This follows pretty well, if Marquette does get the 6th seed, 1 win should be enough to get them to Dayton. 

Beat Creighton (7 seed); Beat St. John’s/DePaul; Beat Nova/Xavier; Lose to Butler/Creighton/Providence

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Beat Creighton (6 seed); Beat Butler/Creighton/Providence; Beat Nova/Xavier; Lose to Butler/Creighton/Providence/Hall

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In both of the last scenarios, beating Xavier/Nova whether a 6 seed or 7 seed puts Marquette safely in the field and avoiding Dayton. 

Ok, sorry about all of those numbers and charts. If you want an easy to digest breakdown, here is the most likely outcomes for Marquette end of season scenarios:

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Or if you want to get even simpler:

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Seems basic enough, but there are some takeaways that we need to keep at the forefront.

  • If Marquette loses to Creighton on Saturday, it really doesn’t matter who Marquette gets as the 10 seed as it will need to also beat Xavier or Villanova
  • If Marquette beats Creighton, and Seton Hall goes 0-2, it doesn’t matter who takes up the 3 seed, but Marquette could face a win and you’re in scenario. 
  • If Marquette beats Creighton but Seton Hall wins at least one of it’s last 2 games, Marquette should be rooting for St. John’s to finish in last place. If DePaul ends up as the 10-seed, 1 win in the BET may not be enough, as TRank projects Marquette to be the last team in the field in this scenario.

Once more for those in the back, these projections are liable to change as other bubble teams win or lose. In that case, you should be rooting against the following teams in pretty much every scenario:

St. Bonaventure, USC, St. Mary’s, Missouri, Lousiville, Arizona St., Providence, Kansas St., Syracuse, Boise St and UCLA (all teams currently ahead of MU on the bubble) as well as Texas, Temple, Miss. St, W. Kentucky, Nebraska, Utah, Notre Dame, LSU, Georgia, Washington, Oregon and  Penn St.  

The odds aren’t great, but it’s pretty much all moot if Marquette doesn’t win at least two more games this season.

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