Underestimate Marquette? That’s typical – and foolish

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Marquette’s 14 losses are the most among any Sweet 16 team this season. Its 22 wins are the fewest. Those numbers don’t exactly scare opponents. And with mighty North Carolina up next, there aren’t many believers that the Golden Eagles can pull off the win. They’re five-point underdogs.

But don’t tell that to coach Buzz Williams.

The Golden Eagles is a firm believer that every loss had a purpose. From OnMilwaukee.com

“We lost more league games this year than we had ever lost so there were more lessons to learn,” coach Williams said. “I believe God gives us the same test over and over until you pass it. It’s not first grade where you move on to the next test. You’re going to keep getting the same thing until you pass it.

“I do believe that those tests, even though we failed several consecutively, helped prepare us for a new test. And I don’t know that without taking the same test repeated times, we would have advanced to this test. It’s hard going through it but as I told our guys, we can’t miss what God is trying to teach us through this. If we do, then we put our ego in front of all of it and we’re not going to learn anything.

“This opportunity to learn this lesson again. So we need to make sure our ears and our eyes and are hearts are open to learn.”

Maybe it shouldn’t be surprised Marquette took most of the season to completely jell. This team’s main pieces were assembled piece by piece, some through junior colleges. As people focused on that fact, the players did their best to use that as motivation to improve.

“I think all of us being from juco, it makes us work harder,” senior Jimmy Butler told Mike Freeman of CBSports.com. “It was a notch in our belt going to juco, a bump in the road but it got us to the place where we want to be. And I think it runs us all together more. I think that is what’s big on this Marquette team. We all have different stories. And all of those stories is something in there that is alike, that’s why we are so close and that’s why, you know, we all want the same goal and all want to reach the same dreams.

“And I just think that us being from juco, we can talk about those juco days and how hard it was and we didn’t have anything like we have now. Marquette is a real nice program. It has really nice facilities and in junior college it was nothing like that. So that’s, you know, just being from juco you have those type of stories to share with each other.”

So forget the juco stuff. Focus on what the Golden Eagles do best, such as: Shooting, offensive rebounding, getting to the free-throw line, avoiding dumb fouls and not turning the ball over.

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That pretty much covers everything, right?

Anyway. A reminder for anyone writing off Marquette tonight.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.