Welcome to Playboy.com’s 2014 Bracket Challenge

The Marquette Golden Eagles have a clearer path to March Madness in the Big East, but in the world of NCAA College Basketball, nothing is a given
12/27/2013
 

Team Preview: 2014 Marquette Golden Eagles

By: Ben Lewis

2012-2013 record: 26-9, (14-4 in Big East)

Head Coach: Buzz Williams (Career: 122-54)

After a trip to the Elite Eight in 2013’s Big Dance, Marquette looks to reign supreme again in the new-look Big East and is definitely a major favorite for the title.

Strongside: This is a strong, talented frontcourt that returns seniors Jamil Wilson, Davante Gardner and centerman Chris Otule. Coach Buzz Williams feels this squad is built for a Final Four appearance, and I understand his logic. They have very athletic forwards that are feisty on the rebounds, play lights-out defense that creates turnovers and score from the inside at will, when they’re rolling. The offensive performances, when they have been there, have illustrated what this team is capable of.

Davante Gardner is taking the next step in his development, and with his size is a brutal mismatch for many opposing teams. Gardner is listed at 6’8”, 290 pounds, and he’s scoring 14.8 per game while contributing seven rebounds. Jamil Wilson is a more versatile forward who can score from more spots on the floor and is averaging double figures.

The depth on the Golden Eagles’ bench is what could make this team especially dangerous come March. Coach Williams has at least five guys on the roster who are capable of stepping in and scoring,

Weakside: So far it has been absolute Fright Night from the field with their young, inexperienced group of guards. No one can knock down shots from the perimeter; the team is collectively shooting just .444 on the season. The three-point shooting of 30.1 percent is the second-worst in the Big East. It’s an even worse disaster at the charity stripe, as the Golden Eagles have had a terrible propensity to brick free throws (64.5% as a team). These could be major red flags come tournament time if they run into an early-round matchup that can knock down three-balls. Marquette was exposed in an early game against Ohio State when all they could manage was 35 points in the loss. These issues have to be addressed quickly, before the wheels come off.

It’s culminated in a mysterious departure from Marquette’s athletic director, Larry Williams. The sudden departure apparently floored Coach Buzz, and little explanation has been given for why the AD is pursuing other opportunities outside the university.

All Told: Talented, high-skill players and good coaching can make up for the ugly start. They’re down at the bottom of the Big East to open the season, but there is still so much basketball to be played. There isn’t an incredibly glaring loss on the resume either, as they fell to a hot San Diego State team, Ohio State, a deadly Wisconsin squad and Arizona State.  Hopefully writing a preview of the team surrounded by gorgeous Playboy women will erect them out of this horribly flaccid start to the season.

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Ben Lewis is a sports radio broadcaster and journalist for CK750 in Melfort, Saskatchewan and has hosted and produced two sports shows for the Northeastern Saskatchewan airwaves in his first year there. As a graduate of the Sports Journalism program at Centennial College, he has done work for the CTV Olympics, TSN Radio, Canadian Baseball Network and the Prince Albert Daily Herald. He’s also an avid tennis player, a mediocre player of Jimi Hendrix tunes on the electric guitar, and an eater of chocolate chip pancakes every Sunday morning. For a daily dose of his sports rantings and ravings, you can find him on Twitter: @BenLewisCK750.

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