As just one of two teams to reach the last three Sweet 16s, many pundits have become enamored with Xavier’s ability to always be competitive, find ways to win, and just be part of the national conversation.
That was not the case tonight, as an uninspired Musketeers fell to a harder, better, faster, stronger Marquette Golden Eagles team that reestablished the Big East as the alpha dog in this college basketball game. Meanwhile, Gus Johnson, fresh off an afternoon of fun, iced his pipes for something more screamworthy.
Xavier was soft – effortless if you really want something critical – something almost never seen not only from this team, but also from this program. Despite being slightly outrebounded, Marquette flexed their muscles down low, not giving way to dribble drives from Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons. The Xavier guards both experienced foul trouble and combined for only 11 points on 4-17, far below their season averages.
Watching Marquette tonight was a bit freaky to see. The lone Bubble Team from the Big East, the Golden Eagles looked like men among boys for flashes, but aren’t even really considered even a second-tiered team in their own conference. Does this mean that a high-profile club like XU would actually finished 12th or lower if placed in this superconference? Probably so, at least this season, and that’s downright frightening to consider.
Pointing to early exits by Louisville and Villanova, everyone looks to bash the love affair people like myself have for the Big East. But come on now, what was on display tonight at Quicken Loans Arena is a case in point in terms of the current disparity of talent between the Big East and many of its peers.
Oh, and, up next for Marquette? Most likely Syracuse. Not even the tournament selection committee can keep this conference apart.