Marquette basketball head coach Shaka Smart is trying to snap a six-game losing streak in the NCAA Tournament. After leading VCU to the Final Four in 2011, Smart did not advance past the Round of 32 again during his time in Richmond, VA. With Texas, Smart went 0-3 in March Madness.
At the same time, Golden Eagles fans hope Smart can recapture the magic of that 2011 Final Four run at VCU and end a ten-year NCAA Tournament win drought for Marquette. Since 2013, Marquette has made the Big Dance three times (2017, 2019, 2022) but failed to win a game on any of those three trips. Those three consecutive losses came by an average of 23.6 points.
Marquette’s fortunes appear much more favorable this time around. After an outright regular season Big East title, won by two games no less, and a conference tournament championship, all-American Tyler Kolek and company earned a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Marquette basketball vs. Vermont Catamounts March Madness Scouting Report
Marquette’s first dance partner is the Vermont Catamounts. The first-round matchup will be played at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:45 PM Central on Friday, March 17th. The game will be televised on CBS.
Vermont is the premier program of the America East conference. After winning the America East Playoffs, the Catamounts received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Vermont has also won seven-straight regular-season conference titles.
Stevie Mitchell and Sean Jones discuss Marquette's upcoming NCAA tournament appearance
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— Marquette Basketball (@MarquetteMBB) March 15, 2023
The Catamounts enter NCAA Tournament play on a 15-game win streak, the second-longest active win streak in the country. Despite the string of wins, Vermont has not defeated an NCAA Tournament team since its 73-72 win over Colgate on December 10th. UVM is 1-3 in games against NCAA Tournament teams this year, with losses to St. Mary’s, USC, and Iona.
March Madness: Is Marquette Basketball on Upset Alert?
Vermont’s recipe for pulling a rare 15 over two-seed upset likely comes in the form of limiting possessions and hitting three-point shots. The Catamounts play one of the slowest-tempo offenses in the country and rarely turn the ball over. On top of that, Vermont is also a slightly better three-point shooting team than Marquette.
Vermont’s perimeter shooting is led by Aaron Deloney. The back-to-back winner of the America East Sixth Man of the Year award is one of the best three-point shooters in the country, shooting 41.1% on the season.
UVM has one of the most experienced rosters in the country and knows how to take care of the ball. The Catamounts are top-10 in offensive turnover percentage and top-10 in defensive rebounding percentage, according to KenPom. Vermont senior forward Robin Duncan excelled on the defensive glass this season, earning him all-America East second-team and defensive team honors.
The office 😼 pic.twitter.com/RLzaAKOlog
— UVM Men's Basketball (@UVMmbb) March 16, 2023
Despite Marquette’s youth (every player on the roster has at least two years of eligibility remaining), the Golden Eagles take care of the ball nearly as well as Vermont and are top-25 in offensive turnover percentage.
Vermont will face an uphill battle trying to pull a quintessential March Madness upset. Marquette has plenty of experience slowing down opposing offenses and playing late into the shot clock. While Vermont rarely turns the ball over, Marquette is one of the best teams in the country at forcing turnovers.
Marquette Basketball March Madness Preview
One of Marquette’s biggest weaknesses this season has been rebounding due to not having a traditional center on the roster In another year, that may present a weakness to exploit for a lower-seeded team. This year, however, none of the 15-seeds, Vermont included, are aggressive on the offensive glass. No player on UVM’s roster is taller than six-foot-eight inches.
Shaka Smart and the Golden Eagles have an excellent opportunity to snap their NCAA Tournament losing streak(s). If they can seize that opportunity, they will advance to face the winner of Michigan State and USC.
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