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Revenge Is The Word Of The Day: West Virginia vs. Marquette

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Yes, Pete, it is. In fact , it's pronounced "mill-e-wah-que" which is Algonquin for "the good land."

It's tough to feel out-and-out malice against a team from Wisconsin, so maybe revenge isn't the best word.  Still, WVU owes Marquette a better game and we get that chance at approximately 9:25 pm this evening.

In the first meeting on New Year's Day, West Virginia led 74-73 with 1:48 left in the game at the Bradley Center.  Unfortunately for us, the Mountaineers failed to score over those last 108 seconds, and Marquette escaped with a scrappy victory.  This was part of a three game funk for Bob Huggins' squad, with this loss book-ended by a home loss to St. John's (which ends up looking much better than expected) and a meager two point victory at DePaul.

Since that game, however, these two teams have gone in very different directions.  While the Mountaineers have compiled several wins over ranked opponents and boast a top 15 RPI, Marquette dropped 8 of their last 15 to end the season and now find themselves precariously on the bubble.  An opening round win over Providence likely solidified their position, but they can punch their ticket with gusto tonight against the favored Mountaineers (UPDATE: Mountaineers favored by only 2).

Conventional wisdom would say that a team coming off a game ending less than 24 hours expected tip-off would not be in a good position, but recent history has proved otherwise.  The Big East Tournament has become synonymous with teams making runs through the bracket, with WVU last year being one example.  Then there's the actual game played last night.

In fact, Marquette looked clinical last night.  Big games by Jimmy Butler -- huge, actually, with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists -- and Darius Johnson-Odom allowed the Golden Eagles to breeze past Marshon Brooks and Providence.  If you're expecting to face a Golden Eagle squad at anything less than full-strength, you're likely mistaken.

Still, this is a much improved WVU squad.  If the Mountaineers play in a manner commiserate commensurate with the last weeks of the season and our traditional performances in Madison Square Garden, tonight will be celebrated as a victory.  Anything less than that and the meat-grinder that is the Big East Tournament might destroy their repeat championship hopes.