Call it karma, superstition, luck, statistical correction, or The Force. Whatever it is, Marquette is finally reaping its benefits.
The Golden Eagles won at Seton Hall in overtime Sunday, bringing their record to 10-6 in the Big East and 19-9 overall. Marquette was likely already in the tournament before the win, and beating Seton Hall isn't exactly anything to brag about (though the Pirates have been much tougher this year than any other time in the recent past). No, what makes Marquette's win somewhat remarkable is that it continues the Eagles' season-long adventure of close games -- games Buzz Williams' team is finally winning.
We've been over this before, but Marquette's early winter was best described as "unlucky": Lazar Hayward and company were playing respectably efficient basketball but losing close game after close game. By Jan. 23, Marquette had lost eight of its first 19 games by a combined total of 25 points. Throw out the Eagles' nine-point loss at Wisconsin, and you have seven losses on 16 points. Granted, you have to win close games to expect respect, but it was clear from the tape that Marquette was playing quality basketball. They just didn't have the finishes to show for it.
No more. Since their Jan. 23 loss at Syracuse (by five points, naturally) Marquette has won eight of its last nine games. The last three -- wins at Cincinnati, at St. John's, and at The Hall -- have all come in overtime by a grand total margin of six points. The close losses that seemed ready to send a solid Marquette team to the NIT have faded (thanks in part, too, to the Eagles hitting a less difficult stretch of schedule). Instead, the close wins are stacking up.
Marquette was already a tournament team; now they have the wins to justify it. The bad juju has, for the moment at least, been lifted.