Big East down to one team as Marquette falls to UNC

A quick look at Marquette’s 81-63 loss to North Carolina in the Sweet 16:

How the game was won: Unlike many of the recent NCAA tournament matchups, this game was over early on. Marquette had an early 10-8 lead with 12:43 left in the first half, but the Tar Heels went on a 19-0 run. During that spurt, the Golden Eagles missed 14 straight shots until Jimmy Butler’s jumper ended an eight minute plus scoring drought. Going into half, North Carolina led 40-15, and the ballooned to 46-15 with 18:55 to go.

Big Least: Marquette was one of only two Big East teams out of 11 to advance to the Sweet 16. With the loss, the only Big East team left is Connecticut. Since the inception of the 16-team Big East, no Big East team has ever made it to the finals. Either the Big East is highly overrated or the teams beat each other up in conference play so much that there is nothing left in the tank come tournament time. Either way, the Big East has struggled significantly in the past few years.

Star gazing: Marquette had done a nice job defending opponent’s star big men in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. In its opening round matchup against Xavier, forward Jamel McLean was limited to four points on 1-for-6 shooting. In the Round of 32, Syracuse forward Rick Jackson, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, was held to just seven points and four rebounds.

But any luck against big men ran out on Friday night. Center Tyler Zeller absolutely dominated the Golden Eagles, as he scored 27 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. His front court mates John Henson (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Harrison Barnes (20 points, nine rebounds) also enjoyed stellar games.

Meanwhile, Marquette had very little going for it the whole night, as the team shot 36.5 percent from the field and turned the ball over 18 times. Butler finished with 14 points while Davante Gardner lead Marquette with 16.

What’s next: North Carolina will play Kentucky on Sunday as the Wildcats shocked the No. 1 overall seed, 62-60.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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