Excitement builds as Marquette men head to Big East Tournament

NOW: Excitement builds as Marquette men head to Big East Tournament

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Marquette men's basketball team left for New York Tuesday afternoon, with another chance to make team history.

Marquette won the outright Big East regular season title for the first time and is the top-seed in the conference tournament.

The Golden Eagles have never won the Big East Tournament or made the title game. Forward Oso Ighodaro says the team isn't surprised by their performance.

"At the beginning of the season, I feel like there wasn't much hope for our team. (The players) and the program were the only ones that felt we could do the things we're doing," he said.

Preseason polls picked Marquette to finish ninth in the conference. Today they are the sixth-ranked team in the country, and forward David Joplin is starting to feel the city of Milwaukee take notice.

"Actually, the other day walking to class, some of the construction workers were telling us how excited they were. It's cool to see how much the city is getting on our side," he said.

Joplin was named Big East sixth man of the year. The Associated Press named Tyler Kolek conference Player of the Year, and Shaka Smart Coach of the Year, with more awards for the taking later this week. If fans or pundits want to call all of this a surprise, Coach Smart doesn't seem to mind.

"Anyone that supports us, we appreciate. Anyone that doubts us and is critical of us, we appreciate. We use all that as motivation," he said.

Marquette kicks off Big East Tournament play on Thursday against the winner of St. John's and Butler.

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