Thursday, February 29, 2024

College basketball rankings: Marquette a rare underdog as No. 1 seed in Big East Tournament semifinal

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It’s rare for an outright conference champion and projected No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament to find itself as an underdog in the semifinals of its conference tournament. Regardless, such will be the case for Marquette on Friday night when the Golden Eagles meet UConn inside Madison Square Garden. 

Marquette is the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament. UConn is the No. 4 seed. And yet it’s the Huskies, thanks in part to super-strong computer numbers, who are favored by 3.5 points over a Golden Eagles team that needed overtime Thursday to beat St. John’s 72-70 in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals.

“We faced a lot of adversity [against St. John’s] … and the guys just stared down the adversity,” said Marquette coach Shaka Smart. “They stayed connected.”

UConn advanced Thursday with a 73-66 victory over Providence that pushed the Huskies up to No. 4 at KenPom.com. That ranking doesn’t quite correlate with UConn’s body of work — though, it should be noted, it’s not intended to correlate because a body of work is based on results while KenPom is a predictive metric. Either way, again, it is why this UConn team that finished fourth in the Big East is favored over the Marquette team that finished first. A likely crowd advantage for the Huskies in midtown Manhattan is also something to consider.

Marquette is No. 7 in Friday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. UConn is No. 9. Tip-off between the Huskies and Golden Eagles is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET.

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