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March 17, 2009No one covers the Tigers like PowerMizzou.com. To follow the Tigers on every step of their run through the NCAA tournament, sign up today to start your Free Seven-Day Trial.
Missouri tips Friday afternoon in Boise, ID against the Big Red from Cornell. The winner of that game will meet the winner of Marquette and Utah State on Sunday afternoon. Over the next three days, PowerMizzou.com will give Tiger fans a look at each of the three teams in Missouri's pod. Today, we start with a look at sixth-seeded Marquette.
Conference Record: 12-6, 5th in the Big East
Ranking: 23rd in AP, 24th in ESPN/USA Today
Schedule Strength: 48*
Coach: Buzz Williams, First season at Marquette
Top Players: Jerel McNeal (19.7 pts, 4.6 rebs, 4 assists), Wesley Matthews, 18.4 pts, 5.6 rebs, 2.6 assists), Lazar Hayward (16.1 pts, 8.6 rebs, 1.2 assists)
Key Stat: Marquette was 20-and-2 and unbeaten in Big East play before losing seven of its final 11 games. The Golden Eagles have lost five of six since losing Dominic James to a broken foot against Connecticut on February 25th. James is done for the season.
Why They're Dangerous: Even without James, McNeal and Matthews are one of the best guard tandems in the country and Hayward gives them an inside presence. At this point, the Eagles should be used to playing with James. Even though they've lost five of six, every loss was to a team in the nation's top 15 and a team seeded third or higher in the NCAA tournament. It's not as if Marquette has been playing patsies. If McNeal and Matthews play well, the Eagles could emerge from this pod and make the Sweet Sixteen.
Why They Could Exit Early: Well, take the most important player off any team in the country and there's a difference. And even though the losses have been "quality losses," they're still losses. Marquette is yet to prove it can beat a good team without James on the floor. And make no mistake, the Eagles are going to face two good teams in Boise.
*RPI and strength of schedule numbers were taken from RealTimeRPI.com.
Coming tomorrow: Utah State breakdown
No one covers the Tigers like PowerMizzou.com. To follow the Tigers on every step of their run through the NCAA tournament, sign up today to start your Free Seven-Day Trial.