Louisville, Cincinnati and Memphis are all 6-2 in conference while Charlotte is 5-3 while Marquette falls behind to 4-4. The sleepers in the conference, the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Saint Louis, might replace Marquette if they do well enough in the conference tournament at Cincinnati in the beginning of March. UAB is in first place in the league with a record of 6-1 and has defeated one of the five top teams in the league with a win over Charlotte Jan. 24, 69-62.
Marquette's loss to TCU puts them at .500 in conference, a feat no one expected a team who made it to the Final Four just a year ago to be at this point of the year. Coach Tom Crean said the loss to TCU was a result of some of the faults that have hindered the Golden Eagles this season.
"As far as our team, we might not have the maturity that we might need to understand, right now, how important every possession is," he said. "These are one of those emotional, roller coaster games that knock you right down, but in this league you have to turn right back around and get back up and play or it'll catch you again."
Marquette will play at DePaul Saturday in hopes of doing what Crean said in bouncing back after a tough loss. DePaul is coming off a win as they defeated Tulane, 72-58, at home on Tuesday. After being on the injured list for over a month, senior Andre Brown scored a career-high tying 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the year. Drake Diener, Travis Diener's cousin, added 18 points. The Blue Demons grabbed a season-high 50 rebounds and limited Tulane to 33 percent shooting.
Marquette, however, may still see a trip to the Big Dance since conference rival Cincinnati was able to make the tournament with a 9-7 conference record and going 17-12 overall. The Bearcats only had significant wins over Louisville and Oregon that season and after making the tournament lost to Gonzaga in the first round 74-69.
Crean also said a reason the team might have lost to TCU, as well as other team's they were favored to beat, such as Southern Mississippi, is their ability to play their best when only up against a tougher opponent.
"I think our team plays better when it's scared," he said. "When it's scared, the other team is going to score at will. If you don't go prepared to play at Louisville, they are going to score at will. We learned a very hard lesson against TCU."