Marquette men's and women's basketball prepares for NCAA tournament
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- For the first time since 2019, both Marquette men's and women's teams will be dancing in March in the NCAA tournaments. They also open their respective tournaments on the same day, Friday, March 17.
On Wednesday afternoon, the program held a sendoff event for both programs.
"Just a special time of year. the energy, the excitement around our programs here at Marquette, our campus our community. We're excited to go," said Megan Duffy, head coach of the women's basketball team.
"I think it's something like 19% of Division I teams play in the NCAA tournament," said Shaka Smart, head coach of the Marquette men's basketball team. "At the same time, we don't just want to be one of those 19%. we want to do everything in our control to advance."
The men's team is playing in the tournament for the 35th time in program history, and for the second straight year. The Golden Eagles take on Vermont at 1:45 p.m. on CBS 58 in Columbus, OH. They are still looking for their first tournament win since 2012-13 after losing to North Carolina, 95-63 in the opening round last year. The players feel that all experience is good experience.
"Just having that chip on our shoulder that we still got something to prove in the sense of how that went last year. I don't think anyone on our team has an NCAA tournament win yet other than our coaches," said Stevie Mitchell, a sophomore guard on the Golden Eagles." Just having that chip on our shoulder and being ready to go."
The women's squad is back in the tournament for the first time since 2021 and are looking for their first win since 2019. Marquette takes on South Florida at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 17 in Columbia, SC. They will be at the site of the top overall seed and last year's champion, South Carolina. The Golden Eagles have beaten two Top 10 opponents this season in Texas and UConn. Those matchups gave the players the confidence they can make it past the second round for the first time in school history.
"Seeing other Big East teams winning last year, it was a huge switch for us. Like we can do that to," said Liza Karlen, Marquette junior forward on seeing Villanova and Creighton make deep tournament runs a year ago. "Proving to ourselves this year that we beat such incredible talent, shows us that we can make a run in this tournament."
With both teams playing on the same day as well. They are hoping to feed off each other's energy for a tournament run.
"We've enjoyed watching them all year, they've enjoyed watching us all year too. I think our support for each other has been great for both teams," said Mitchell.
"We're a basketball school, we're a basketball conference. So, for both of us to be on this stage is such a blessing," said Karlen. "It's really really cool to represent Marquette on both sides, and we wish them the best of luck as well."