Marquette basketball takeaways after a brutal December schedule

Dec 21, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Marquette Golden Eagles head coach Shaka Smart during the game against the Connecticut Huskies at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Marquette Golden Eagles head coach Shaka Smart during the game against the Connecticut Huskies at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

The Marquette Basketball December schedule was going to be brutal. Amid a three-game losing streak and dropping four of five games, December was particularly cruel to Marquette hoops.

The Marquette Golden Eagles had to go on the road to face top-25 teams in Wisconsin and Xavier. Marquette also hosted top-5 UCLA. In addition, they had a home conference matchup with UConn, who is expected to be battling for the Big East crown.

The only win the Marquette Golden Eagles could muster was a road win over Kansas State. Needless to say, December was a tough stretch of games.

The December slate is now over after the St. John’s game got postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the Red Storm.

What can be taken away from a stretch that has left Marquette Basketball 8-5 on the season and 0-2 in the Big East?

First, do not expect an NCAA Tournament bid

At the same time, it does not mean you can not hope the Marquette Golden Eagles sneak into the tournament.

Marquette is currently 75 in the NCAA NET rankings. They have a couple of Quad 1 and 2 wins which look good on an NCAA Tournament resume. Marquette’s strength of schedule plays to its favor.

At the same time, the Marquette Golden Eagles are 83rd in the KenPom rankings. They are 106th according to T-Rank. Those rankings are pretty good projectors at who gets an invite to the Big Dance.

That means the Golden Eagles have a lot of work to do.

At a minimum, Marquette needs to finish 12-8 or 11-9 in the Big East to have a legit shot at making March Madness. Even at that point, they need to win a few games in the Big East Tournament.

The Big East schedule is going to be tough sledding as the January portion of the schedule features six games against ranked opponents, five of them back-to-back, if Seton Hall, Providence, Villanova, Xavier all stay in the top-25.

Talk about a gauntlet. That is a rough stretch for a veteran team, which Marquette is not, so you can bet it will be a battle to just leave January above .500.

This is a team that showed in December it has fight and talent. It also showed that it is still young and inexperienced. That is why it is better to hope for a March invite and not expect it. The season will be much more enjoyable.

Justin Lewis needs to stop shooting three-pointers

Marquette’s leading scorer had a good December. Lewis was in double-digits in all five games.

His three-point shot has been way off the mark, however. He is shooting 25.8% from beyond the arc, and his home three-point percentage is 12.5.

I know he has NBA aspirations, but right now, Marquette’s offense needs him to attack the basket and get points in the paint.

Tyler Kolek has run the point brilliantly

He was a catch-and-shoot player last year at George Mason. Since transferring to Marquette and moving to point guard, he has been an excellent ball distributor.

He has been great running the pick-and-roll offense.

Now, if he can start getting his threes to fall, Marquette could be really potent offensively.

Marquette needs to avoid getting down by double-digits and get buckets down the stretch

Marquette was down by 10 or more points in every game but the Kansas State game. Against Xavier and UConn, the Golden Eagles rallied back to get to within a point late in the game.

Then they went cold down the stretch. Marquette is showing fight but also running out of gas trying to come back. If a player on the roster could step up like Joe Chapman in 2005-2006 and hit a run-killing shot, they might find some success. Greg Elliott could be that guy.

They just need to find a way to limit runs the other team goes on. Maybe then some victories will come their way.

light. Related Story. Areas Marquette basketball needs to clean up to succeed in Big East play