Editor's Note: In the buildup to Midnight Madness, we are taking an in-depth look at ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi's top five seeds in a series called Countdown To Madness. In addition to the Insider pieces, Eamonn Brennan will offer Three Big Things about each team and we'll have Five Questions with a player or coach from each squad.
Marquette has thrived on veteran players taking the program toward the top of the Big East and deep into the NCAA tournament.
There are certainly candidates to fill the void now that Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom are gone. Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson will be counted on heavily, but Todd Mayo may have to mature even faster as a sophomore wing.
The younger brother of NBA guard O.J. Mayo, Todd wasn’t as highly recruited out of high school as his sibling. He’s not a one-and-done. And he doesn’t come with the storm clouds of NCAA inquiry that shadowed and eventually enveloped his brother at USC.
Mayo is more of a four-year player who can develop and improve a program as his skill set improves. He averaged 7.9 points and 4.1 rebounds last season. His numbers will surely increase as the demands on his production grow.
The Golden Eagles won’t be picked high in the Big East based on the departures of Crowder and DJO, but when are they ever? As long as players like Mayo continue to progress, Marquette will be right there.
Andy Katz: What’s it like to play for [MU coach] Buzz Williams?
Todd Mayo: You know you have to bring it every day and work hard on and off the court and always stay positive.
AK: How would you describe a Buzz Williams practice?
TM: Very intense. I would say he’s always going to be on you and want you to do right and do it his way and go by what he preaches each and every day, doing it his way every day.
AK: What’s your best O.J. Mayo story?
TM: When we were in South Africa on a safari in July, a lion got really, really close to us and the man pulled out his rifle. But O.J. got real scared when the lion got real close. I took out my camera and took a picture when the lion was real close.
AK: When was the last time you beat him one-on-one?
TM: I can never say I beat my brother one-on-one ... well, maybe on a Nerf rim.
AK: How can Marquette challenge for a top-four Big East finish without Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder?
TM: We all just got to be one and can’t rely on two players like last year and make it easier for teams in the Big East to key on us. From the starters to the bench, that’s what Kentucky had and that can put us in the top three or four in the Big East this year.