Big East: Three cheers for Marquette’s seeding

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Marquette head coach Buzz Williams calls out to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in the quarterfinals of the Big East Conference tournament in New York, Thursday, March 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

If history means anything for Marquette, the number 3 could be its luckiest.

The Golden Eagles will head to Louisville on Thursday as the No. 3 seed in the West region, the slotting that historically has been their best in the NCAA tournament. Marquette was a No.  3 in 2003 when the Dwyane Wade-led team reached the Final Four.

Then again, the Golden Eagles were an 11 last season, when they were an upset specialist reaching the Sweet 16.

No. 9-ranked Marquette (25-7) won’t know its first opponent until Tuesday night, when BYU and Iona meet in the first round.

For Notre Dame, a No. 7 seed in the South means a difficult draw against No. 10 seed Xavier from the Atlantic 10 Conference; the Fighting Irish head to Greensboro, N.C., to play Friday. The Musketeers (21-12) reached their conference tournament final, losing to St. Bonaventure.

Notre Dame is coming off a disappointing finish in the Big East tournament, barely surviving South Florida’s upset bid before failing badly against eventual champ Louisville, which also dispatched Marquette.

The Irish haven’t been to the Sweet 16 since 2003, and if they get by Xavier, they’ll face a doubly compelling potential meeting on Sunday against No. 2 Duke, which meets No.  15 Lehigh first. Irish coach Mike Brey was one of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s longtime assistants before his first head coaching job at Delaware.

Notre Dame and Marquette are two of nine Big East teams in the field, leading all conferences again but two short of the record 11 bids the Big East got last year.

Count DePaul as one reason for that. Though the Blue Demons only had three Big East victories, their last was a solid thumping of Seton Hall, a team left out of the field Sunday despite a 20-12 record (8-10 conference).

Conference champion Syracuse is the No. 1 seed in the East, Georgetown is the No. 3 in the Midwest, and Louisville earned a No. 4 seed in the West.

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