Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 3/26/13
MILWAUKEE -- Marquette University's men's basketball program has an edge about it. It stems from its head coach who ascended through the coaching ranks because of his edge, but still coaches with the same chip on his shoulder today though he's one of the nation's hottest coaching commodities. The Golden Eagles have thrived as underdogs this season. Picked to finish seventh in the Big East, Marquette won a share of the league title. A popular upset pick against Davidson and then Butler, the Golden Eagles survived both to move on to the Sweet 16 and will face Miami in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Everyone picking against them has motivated them. The latest thing driving the Golden Eagles? Marquette was picked last - below even LaSalle and Florida Gulf Coast - in ESPN's re-ranking of the Sweet 16. "We've been the underdogs all year," Marquette guard Vander Blue said. "Nobody expected us to be good. Everybody said this team didn't have a leader, Marquette couldn't go far because they didn't have a go-to guy. "We see all that and it just adds fuel to my fire. It makes me want to prove people wrong even more. I like being the hunter rather than being the hunted." What Marquette is chasing is its first trip to the Elite 8 since 2003. The Golden Eagles have been beaten by double digits in each of their last two Sweet 16 appearances - by 18 points to North Carolina in 2011 and by 10 to Florida in 2012. "By no means are we content with the Sweet 16," Marquette guard Trent Lockett said. "I think that's probably the biggest thing we have to carry going into this game. Yes, the Sweet 16 is great but it's not our goal. We've had a good week of practice, guys have brought great energy and focus." Blue admitted the Golden Eagles were happy to be in the Sweet 16 the last two seasons and are much more focused on advancing this season. "I've had enough of the Sweet 16's, I want to get over the hump," Blue said. "We haven't celebrated much about this. We are happy we won but we got back to work. Just keep grinding. We just have to win now. We've been there far too many times to not get over the hump now." The criticism that Marquette lacked a go-to player or a leader might have been valid earlier in the season, but Blue has become both. His profile has jumped up a notch on the national level this week after two great performances in the NCAA tournament. After hitting the game-winning shot against Davidson, Blue scored 29 points and took over the game against Butler in the Round of 32. "This last month the only thing that's been on my mind has been basketball," Blue said. "When I'm at home, I'm thinking about basketball. I come to the gym late just to shoot. I want to do something that has something to do with basketball. I feel like this opportunity that we have right now is not normal, it's rare." While the other two teams Marquette coach Buzz Williams has taken to the Sweet 16 may have been believed to be more talented, this group has a very underrated talent level. And while all of Williams' teams have been tough and resilient, this group might define his style of play the best. "I think the togetherness and the chemistry of this group is superior to the other two," Williams said. "It's been a lot of fun to coach these guys. There's been very little drama amongst themselves and if there has been drama they've solved it before it got to me. They enjoy being around each other and they want to compete in every drill, every day." On a mission to go where no Marquette team has gone since Dwyane Wade led the Golden Eagles to the Final Four in 2003, the Golden Eagles are going to be one tough out. "80 minutes until the Final Four, just go as hard as you can for 80 minutes," Blue said. "I just don't want to go home. I know our team doesn't want to go home. I want Junior (Cadougan) and Trent to go out making the Final Four. It's something in my heart, my desire." Missing a piece: Miami will be without one of its big men against Marquette, as the school announced Tuesday that center Reggie Johnson won't make the trip with the team due to a knee injury that may require surgery. The 6-foot-10, 295 pound senior averages 6.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game for the Hurricanes. Johnson was injured in Miami's Round of 32 victory over Illinois. He missed nine games this season with a thumb injury and the Hurricanes suffered two of their six losses without him. Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

DeMar DeRozan: It will be ‘pretty tough’ for me to leave Raptors

Super Bowl referee says Cotchery play could have been a catch

The NBA is one step closer to putting ads on jerseys

Archie Manning defends Cam Newton over press conference

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

Texans owner wants team to draft a top quarterback

Subban undergoes larynx surgery, out at least eight weeks

Report: Raiders staying in Oakland for 2016 season

Chris Harris: Von Miller should get paid more than JJ Watt

4 likeliest Dwight Howard trade scenarios

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Penn State the latest to offer generic football jerseys for sale

Gary Bettman praises the NHL’s new website and app (which are currently awful)

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

NBA to weigh adding advertisements to jerseys

ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Little League International sued by parents of Jackie Robinson West

Kobe Bryant shoots down notion he wants All-Star MVP record

Justin Tuck will sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Ronda Rousey returns to training

Von Miller likely to get franchise tag from Broncos

Barry J. Sanders transferring to Oklahoma State

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker