BIG EAST Champs Head Back To NYC For League Tournament
March 12, 2013
TV Info: ESPN | Radio Info: 540 ESPN
The No. 3 seed Marquette University men's basketball team (23-7, 14-4 BIG EAST) has earned a double bye in the BIG EAST Championship for the second-straight year and will open play at 8 p.m. CT on Thursday, March 14 at Madison Square Garden. The Golden Eagles will play either Rutgers, DePaul or Notre Dame in the final matchup of the day. ESPN will feature Marquette's 20th national television broadcast of the campaign, with Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Jay Bilas (analyst) and Bill Raftery (analyst) calling the action.
Marquette Claims Share Of BIG EAST Title
Junior guard Vander Blue's driving layup at the buzzer in overtime against St. John's not only gave Marquette an important road victory, but also earned the program a share of its first-ever BIG EAST Conference regular season championship.
The Golden Eagles matched their 14-4 league mark from 2011-12 with the win over the Red Storm and finished first in the final standings along with Georgetown and Louisville. Because MU split its season series with the Hoyas and lost to the Cardinals, Marquette owns the No. 3 seed in the upcoming conference tourney.
MU had claimed just a pair of regular season league titles in program history previous to Saturday, finishing first in the Great Midwest Conference in 1993-94 and topping Conference USA in 2002-03. Marquette's first season of conference affiliation came in 1989-90.
The Golden Eagles were picked to finish seventh in the 2012-13 preseason coaches poll. In the eight seasons MU has been in the BIG EAST, the team has finished higher than its projected preseason ranking on five occasions.
Marquette's Success By The Numbers
Marquette has been one of the BIG EAST's most consistent performers since joining the league in 2005-06. Below are some numbers to consider:
Blue Named All-BIG EAST Second Team Selection
Junior guard Vander Blue was named All-BIG EAST Second Team in a voting by the league's head coaches, marking the first honor of his career at Marquette.
Blue enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2012-13 and concluded the regular season ranked 15th in the league in scoring (14.4 ppg.). The Madison, Wis., native is the squad's leading scorer and nearly doubled his scoring average of 8.4 points per outing in 2011-12. He shot 46.1 percent from the floor through the team's first 30 games this year, reaching double figures in points a total of 21 times.
Gardner League's Top Sixth Man, Honorable Mention
Junior forward Davante Gardner claimed a pair of honors from the league, earning the BIG EAST Sixth Man Award and a spot on the All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention squad.
Gardner was one of the league's most efficient players all season long, posting averages of 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest in just 21.3 minutes per night off the bench. He is ranked fourth among league players in both field goal percentage (.577) and free throw percentage (.848) and is top-three in both categories in league-only games. He is on pace to finish among MU's top-10 performers in the season record book as well in those areas.
MU Hoping To Continue BIG EAST Tourney Success
Since Marquette joined the league in 2005-06, only the Golden Eagles have reached at least the quarterfinals of the league tourney every season.
Thanks to its best-ever BIG EAST finish in 2012-13, MU has already earned a spot in the quarterfinals and will be looking to advance to the semifinals for the third time (lost to Pittsburgh in 2007-08 and Georgetown in 2009-10). Marquette is 8-7 all-time in its previous seven appearances in the event, claiming at least one win every year except 2006.
Marquette has posted an overall record of 20-22 in league tourneys since joining the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (MCC) in 1989-90. MU was 0-2 in the MCC, 2-4 in the Great Midwest Conference and 10-9 in Conference USA.