Fun Fact: Only twice in the illustrious history of Marquette Basketball have the Golden Eagles/Warriors defeated the #1 team in the country. I learned this factoid last night after Marquette shocked the college basketball world by defeating the defending champion #1 Villanova Wildcats.* This victory could not have happened at a better time.
*Marquette’s other win versus a #1 occurred in the 2003 NCAA Tournament against the Kentucky Wildcats.
Marquette is at an important juncture of the Steve Wojciechowski Era. It’s reasonable to wonder if Coach Wojo has the program heading in the right direction in year three of his tenure. In fact, I was on the verge of writing a blog post to this effect. But after beating the #7 Creighton Blue Jays on Saturday and Villanova last night, it’s safe to say Wojo has demonstrated proof of concept.
For starters, two wins in three days against top-ten foes is impressive no matter how you slice it. Incredibly, Marquette score 50 points in three of their last four halves of basketball. This offensive outburst is far from a fluke. Marquette ranks #18 nationally in points per game (84.6) and #4 in three-point field goal percentage (41.7%). While their defense is a work in progress, Wojo has constructed a team with an identity on offense.
My second point – and this is important – is that it’s been a long time since Marquette treated their fans to a thrilling victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Golden Eagles have not beaten a top-ten team at home since January 29, 2011 versus the #9 Syracuse Orange. The reason you attend a game against the #1 team in the country is because you just might see something amazing happen. For the past three seasons Marquette has not given fans much to cheer about. This is no longer the case. Despite (and because of) their inconsistency, the Golden Eagles are an exciting team to watch. The Bradley Center will have some energized crowds for the rest of the season.
Now, progress does not always happen in a straight line. It’s entirely possible Marquette will lose to the Providence Friars this Saturday in Milwaukee. (Hopefully not.) Regardless of the outcome of the next few games, Coach Wojo has provided emphatic evidence that the Golden Eagles are heading in the right direction.