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Game of the Day: Marquette faces Providence with tournament hopes fading

Depending on who you talk to, Marquette might have an outside chance at a 2014 NCAA Tournament bid.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette Golden Eagles (15-7) at Providence Lady Friars (7-17)

7 p.m. Eastern

Dunkin Donuts Center

WBB State preview statistics

SB Nation blog: Anonymous Eagle

Yesterday, we took a brief look at Charlie Creme's latest bracketology commentary through the lens of the big Duke-UNC matchup on ESPN.

But another worthwhile commentator to follow for bracketology insight is Steven, who maintains the S-Factor blog and usually has a slightly different take on things than Creme. In his update on tournament bracketology yesterday, the thing that caught my eye was the position of Marquette.

Marquette is nowhere to be found in Creme's latest bracketology, with Big East teams opponents St. John's, DePaul, Villanova and Creighton all getting mentions ahead of the Golden Eagles. But Marquette has been firmly on the bubble in the S-Factor's analysis: just looking through the last month's worth of posts, Marquette is one of the teams in the mix that just can't seem to establish a firm position.

They're currently listed as "out" of the S-Factor's bracket after a bad fifth loss in conference play at home to Butler, which was punctuated by a disastrous finish for Marquette with a chance to win as described by Brewtown Andy of SB Nation's Marquette blog Anonymous Eagle. Andy put that disappointing 74-70 loss on Saturday in perspective with a brief breakdown of the Eagles' conference losses in his preview of today's game against Providence.

The first four I can understand. Two very close losses at home to two of the top four teams in the conference. These things happen. The Creighton loss was an ugly performance, but the Bluejays have shown an ability to get hot, with two different players blowing up for 38 points this season. DePaul was picked to win the conference, so a close loss in their building isn't a big deal.

That Butler loss on Saturday, though... boy, that one's rough. Yes, the Bulldogs are just a half game behind Marquette in the league standings, but if Marquette has postseason hopes in mind, they can't be dropping games like that.

Butler has a RPI of 114, which easily explains why Marquette was bumped from the S-Factor's field but as Andy alludes to their tournament hopes might not be dead: The S-Factor's ranking still has them at #64, meaning they might still have an outside chance of jumping back into the field if they can pick up some good wins down the road.

One reason for the Butler loss might have been a poor performance from Katherine Plouffe, Marquette's 6-foot-3 senior forward, who shot just 3-for-12 from the field before fouling out on Saturday. Andy sees her as a key to today's game and complemented his preview with the argument for Plouffe as Big East Player of the Year.

Purely on statistics, Plouffe is an obvious candidate. The Edmonton native is second in the Big East in both scoring (17.6 ppg) and rebounding (9.7 rpg). She's also in the top 10 in the conference in both field goal percentage and free throw percentage. She's been Player of the Week twice, and has been on the Weekly Honor Roll twice. This is a solid profile for the end of the year award. Unfortunately, Marquette is 6-5 in league play, and it's hard to say the best player in the conference is on the fifth place team.

This should be - has to be - a win for Marquette without much external motivation required, especially if Plouffe brings her A game.

For more on Marquette Eagles women's basketball, check out SBN's Anonymous Eagle.