Is Marquette-Louisville a Must-Win For Marquette?
It’s late November. Selection Sunday is miles away. Sure, there are things like bracketology out there, but nothing is concrete at this point. That said, Marquette could be looking at a must-win this evening against Louisville in the consolation game of the NIT Tip-Off. It might seem ridiculous, but Golden Eagles have not stepped up against their first two tests of the season. If they were to lose tonight, the month of December becomes extremely critical with the margin of error being very, very small. If you look at their December schedule, it’s not going to be an easy month for the Golden Eagles.
Marquette comes into the game as a four-point favorite to face the Cardinals. Vegas figures it to be a close game, and that’s not surprising to any of us. Chris Mack is a great coach. He is rebuilding Louisville to a powerhouse, but it’s going to take some time. Cardinals have some athletes, and Mack will have it back up and running at some point. Steve Wojciechowski had moderate success against Mack. He swept the Mack-led Xavier Musketeers in 2016-2017 season, and Marquette put a fight in one of their games last year when Xavier was a top-ranked team in college basketball. This is a winnable game for Marquette, and they must take advantage.
If the Golden Eagles were to falter they would fall to .500 for the season, games become more intense and demanding of wins for Marquette. They play three ranked teams next month at varying degrees of quality basketball teams. They have a showdown with Kansas State next Saturday at the Fiserv Forum then the following weekend they welcome Wisconsin. Badgers should still be ranked unless something drastic happens to them. Buffalo comes to town in late December, and the Bulls are one of the best mid-major teams in the country.
Marquette has six games of importance in the non-conference. They would go 0-3 in November if they lose to Louisville today meaning they’d likely need to sweep their big games in December to ensure they’re safe with the committee before Big East play starts. Anything less than .500 against the major teams in the non-conference will leave the Golden Eagles with some serious work to do in conference play.