Shaka Smart and the Marquette Golden Eagles had an abrupt exit from the Big East Tournament but now they'll turn the page to the NCAA Tournament.
On Sunday, Marquette earned a No. 9 seed and a date with No. 8 seeded North Carolina. The two teams are slated to tipoff at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas.
North Carolina was bounced from the ACC Tournament by the eventual champions in Virginia Tech in the semifinals but the Tar Heels boast a 24-9 mark entering the NCAA Tournament.
They're led by Armando Bacot who is a problem for opposing teams in the post. On the year, Bacot is averaging a team-high 16.5 points per game to go along with 12.5 rebounds per pop.
North Carolina has three other scorers that all average over 13 points per game as well.
The Tar Heels are monsters on the glass, averaging 39.8 boards per game. Marquette, conversely, does not do well on the boards but they'll need to step it up in this matchup.
Marquette is led by star forward Justin Lewis who has been incredible all season long. Lewis averages 17.1 points per game and often does it in an effortless manner. Along with leading the Golden Eagles in points per game he also hauls in the most rebounds on average at 7.9 per contest.
The winner of this game has a tough draw as they will likely take on No. 1 seeded Baylor unless the 16-seeded Norfolk State Spartans have numerous tricks up their sleeve.
Marquette is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019 and they'll look to build off of the momentum they've gathered in year one of the Shaka Smart era. It all starts Thursday afternoon for the Golden Eagles.