3. Bracket Buster: (9) Marquette
Marquette has a good chance to make it past the Round of 64 for the first time since 2013. After starting the season 8-6, the Golden Eagles ended the year winning 11 of their last 17 matchups with key wins over Big East rivals. Their biggest win came back in January when they dominated Providence from the opening tip. In doing so, Marquette handed the Friars their worst loss of the season (88-56).
Also, Shaka Smart is back in his natural habitat as a gritty underdog with low expectations. Following his tumultuous tenure with the Texas Longhorns, Smart is ready to prove why he’s one of the savviest coaches in the nation. Smart’s group has been locked-in defensively all year, but it’s been their offense which has come on strong as of late. Marquette finished second in PPG during conference play. Watch out for reserves Kam Jones and Greg Elliott. The pair of guards can fill it up in a hurry, and don’t need a whole lot of playing time to make an impact.
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