A.V. Club's guide to jumping the Marquette basketball bandwagon
How to pretend like you've been paying attention all along
Now that the Marquette Golden Eagles are back on the winning path after trouncing St. John’s on Saturday (73-59), it’s time for all you fair-weather bandwagon jumpers to go back to pretending that you loved these guys all along. But how do you come across like a knowledgeable fan when you haven’t been paying attention until now? Here’s a handy cheat sheet, courtesy of Decider.
Background: Marquette begins and ends with the three senior guards: Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wesley Matthews. Incredible chemistry between these guys; they're interchangeable on the floor and can all shoot, slash and steal. It's tough to pick a standout, but McNeal broke the Marquette all-time scoring record earlier this season, and is getting serious mention for Big East Player Of The Year.
Junior forward Lazar Hayward is the George Harrison of the bunch. He’s frequently overlooked despite the greatness of his contributions, which on average total nearly 16 points and nine boards a game. The undersized power forward is the best three-point shooter on the squad according to his teammates, a huge compliment for a team that starts four legitimate outside threats. Center/forward Dwight Burke is mainly a defensive player, the traditional Marquette center. The sixth man, junior guard Maurice Acker, gets around a dozen minutes a game subbing in at point guard, while the rest of the bench stays on the bench.
Conversation starter: "Watching the guards play defense is live art, especially in the full-court press. They are smallish, quick players with big verticals, aren’t they?"
Background: Coach Brent "Buzz" Williams inherited the job spot after Tom Crean took the head coaching job at Indiana. Williams, a former assistant, is basically steering Crean's ship, though he’s doing it quite capably. He's a square peg among the glamour-boy coaches of the Big East, with possibly the worst haircut in the NCAA. But blue-collar appeal works in Milwaukee, and Williams isn't fronting one bit—he cold-called his way into NCAA coaching in 1994 and has worked all the way to the top of his game.
Conversation starter: "The stage is set for the classic underdog story. If he can take this team deep into the tournament, it will be hard not to consider Williams to be Crean’s long-term replacement."
Background: The team’s 12-game winning streak and the 9-0 start in conference play came against mostly soft opposition, and Marquette fans should be worried about the recent two-game skid as the team approaches the toughest part of the schedule. Even with the St. John’s victory, the team has to straighten out the kinks before traveling to Georgetown on Saturday, and then coming back home to face No. 1 Connecticut Feb. 25. Also on the horizon are tough games against Louisville (March 1) and No. 4 Pittsburgh (March 4). The regular season ends at home March 7 against No. 23 Syracuse.
Marquette's NCAA tournament seed will be heavily influenced by its performance in the Big East tournament in mid-March at Madison Square Garden. If the team can at least hold the four spot in conference play, Marquette earns byes in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Conversation starter: "Ultimately, the season will be judged on NCAA tournament wins. This team has struggled with early exits; the three senior guards have won just one game at the big dance in their tenure. It's now or never for these guys."