Personal admission: There was an oddly perverse interest in getting the chance to see Marquette (team No. 53 in Project 75, for those keeping count) on Sunday at Verizon Center.
There's a good reason, of course. The Golden Eagles can't help but to play close games.
Like, all the time.
They play good teams close. They play some bad teams close. They occasionally blow people out (see last month's befuddling pounding of Notre Dame). In 11 games away from the Bradley Center, Marquette has not played a double-digit game.
So it was no surprise the team dubbed by SI's Andy Glockner as Team Bubble Watch played a game that had a double-digit spread for all of 11 seconds.
Ultimately, Georgetown departed with a 69-60 victory and Marquette fell to 15-10 (6-6 in the Big East). The Golden Eagles aren't the most vulnerable of the 11 NCAA tournament contenders from the conference to fall into the NIT (that would be Cincinnati, which was 13-0 against the No. 287 nonconference schedule and has three defeats of top-200 teams away from home).
But Marquette is probably next when sizing up the odds, something coach Buzz Williams seems well aware of.
"We gotta win. We gotta win," Williams said. "We've lost 10 games. I think our average margin of defeat is 4.4 points per game. That's a hard life to live, personally and professionally. In the last two years, we've lost one double-digit game, which was to Georgetown in the Big East tournament. And we've won a lot of single- or double-digit games as well. But you have to win in order to be part of any discussion."
Eight sentences, and so much to note.
1. Marquette has indeed lost 10 games this season.
2. Marquette's average margin of defeat is 4.8 points, which is pretty darn close.
3. Marquette has just one double-digit loss in 22 setbacks over the last two seasons.
4. Marquette has won 13 games by less than 10 points over the last two seasons.
5. Buzz Williams is very good with numbers.
6. Buzz Williams' candor on the need to simply win games is refreshing.
7. Buzz Williams probably would rather not know (or be reminded) his team has won less than 40 percent of its single-digit games over the last two years, but heck, there's the tidbit anyway.
Marquette's schedule isn't impossible going forward; it still has a home-and-home with Seton Hall and legitimately winnable home dates with Cincinnati, Providence and St. John's. Only a trip to Connecticut on Feb. 24 looks especially ominous.
Chances are, the Golden Eagles will have plenty more close games between now and Selection Sunday, not to mention a permanent place on the bubble. That, as usual, will be the smart place to look for them over the next month.