Don't underestimate Marquette

Efficiency on both sides of ball could push Golden Eagles to top of Big East

Updated: December 8, 2011, 2:36 PM ET
By John Gasaway | Special to ESPN Insider
MarquetteAnthony Gruppuso/US PresswireDefenses have tried and failed to contain Darius Johnson-Odom and the Golden Eagles.

When Tom Crean left Marquette in 2008 to take the head coaching job at Indiana, the Golden Eagles surprised some observers by turning to then-assistant coach Buzz Williams. In his three full seasons at the helm, however, Williams has consistently made his bosses look smart. Marquette has made six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, and the early indications suggest this season's 8-0 team may be the best since a certain rather prominent member of the Miami Heat led the program to the 2003 Final Four.

So much for the good news; now for the fine print. I said "early" indications. Take all the usual "it's only December" caveats and multiply them by two. We still have precious few data points on Marquette, and frankly one of the ones we do have -- a two-point win over Norfolk State in the Virgin Islands right before Thanksgiving -- isn't terribly complimentary. That being said, I think Williams' team merits your attention -- even if it, like every other team, can suffer an occasional off night. Here's why ...