First things first, we finally decided to join 2006 and create a facebook page. The response so far has been pretty good and it has added some "juice" to the CS staff. FB also auto-links to our Twitter feed if that's your thing.
Now, after Marquette took care of business on Saturday night, there are now six regular-season games remaining and the team stands at 7-5. Many bubble-watch prognosticators are saying Marquette is currently "IN" the NCAA tournament. Even more interesting is that Marquette could potentially be playing for 3rd or 4th in the BE this upcoming Thursday against Pitt. Of course, we wanted to take a step back and view the path forward through a different approach.
- Point #1 - Marquette needs to go at least 3-3 in their remaining six games in order to make the NCAA tournament for a final record of 19-11 (10-8) in conference. Even that record will probably mean that MU needs to win a game in the BET. No, there is nothing magical about twenty wins, but as Providence will tell you, there is also nothing magical about finishing 10-8 in conference. Putting it this way... if MU goes 3-3 down the stretch and loses their first BET game, how comfortable would you be on Selection Sunday?
- Point #2 - To feel comfortable, a 4-2 record down the stretch is much preferred, for a final record of 20-10 (11-7). At this point we would be arguing about Marquette's seed more than if they are getting in.
- Point #3 - Finishing in the top four of conference will probably require finishing 5-1 down the stretch, for a final record of 21-9 (12-6). Pomeroy's projections are that #4 will finish 12-6. Going back the last two years, #4 has actually finished with thirteen wins, so even twelve wins may not be enough.
Projections for the remaining six games.
A few things to emphasize here.
- Even though they're highlighted, don't get hung up on the win percentages ever. A better measure is to look at the predicted margin of victory (or loss). In other words, a 24% chance of victory is less scary than a prediction of a six point loss.
- The Pittsburgh game is our easiest remaining game of the season. Better turn out on Thursday.
- How the hell are we predicted to lose at Cincy, St. Johns, and Seton Hall? The answer comes in two parts. Life is hard on the road, especially for a team like Marquette that relies so much on shooting the ball well. Marquette's offense and defense are both worse on the road and better at home, and that trend applies almost universally in the league (just ask Georgetown). The rims are softer at home. Second, Cincy and Seton Hall are about as good statistically as South Florida and we're playing in their gyms.
- Louisville is trending up, and that should be the toughest home game of the season.
- Finally, these predictions are a snapshot in time as of today. Personally, they seem a bit bearish. Next week they'll almost certainly look different.
Point #1 (going 3-3 for 10 wins) - The percentages of finishing with ten wins or more is about 65%. That's good news, but there is a dark side here. It also means there is about a 1/3 chance that Marquette is predicted to finish 2-4 down the stretch. Lose against Pitt on Thursday and Marquette has only a 12% of finishing with 11 wins or more. In other words, if Marquette doesn't take care of business against Pitt, we start to need some luck to make the tourney.
Point #2 (going 4-2 for 11 wins) - There is about a 30% chance that Marquette finishes 11-7 in conference. Win on Thursday and the percentages improve above 40%, but we are not close to the position of arguing about seeding... yet.
Point #3 (going 5-1 for 12 wins) - Unfortunately, chances are not very good for Marquette right now. There's only about an 8% chance of finishing with 12 wins or more. Even with a win on Thursday, odds are slim. There will need to be some luck involved here.
- Despite the feel-good nature of the current win streak, Marquette is not a lock for the NCAA tournament.
- The team will have to win a game (or two) on the road. They just have to.
- There is a lot more downside to the Pitt game than there is upside. The game that's coming up is a must-win, so start the countdown to Thursday night now. Also, word is that the game will be a gold-out.