NEW YORK - A year ago, when West Virginia made its march through March, the Mountaineers had the amazing good fortune to play every lower-seeded team possible throughout the Big East tournament and the first three games of the NCAA tournament.
Already in 2011 that bit of kismet is over.
Marquette, the No. 11 seed in the Big East tournament, jumped out to a 17-0 lead and beat No. 14 Providence 87-66 Tuesday night to earn its way into tonight's second round against the Mountaineers.
West Virginia (20-10), the tournament's No. 6 seed, will face the Golden Eagles (19-13) in today's final second-round game at Madison Square Garden. Tipoff is set for 20 minutes after the first game of tonight's session (Cincinnati-South Florida), or about 9:30 p.m. It will be televised by ESPN.
If the Mountaineers get past Marquette, they won't be facing an upset winner on Thursday, either. The winner of tonight's game draws third-seeded and No. 14 Louisville (23-8), one of four teams that earned byes into the quarterfinals.
Not only did Marquette earn its way into the second round of the Big East tournament, the Golden Eagles also might have also finally secured an NCAA berth. While 10 league teams, including No. 20 WVU, are considered locks for bids, Marquette is generally considered still on the bubble.
Marquette also beat Providence 10 days ago in Milwaukee by 24 points.
Tonight, West Virginia faces the task of reversing the results of the lone regular-season matchup with Marquette. Back on New Year's Day in Milwaukee, the Golden Eagles won 79-74, part of an 0-2 start to the Big East season for the Mountaineers.
In that game, West Virginia made a star of Jae Crowder. The junior college transfer forward, who would go on to average just over 12 points per game, exploded for 29 against WVU, making 12 of 14 shots, handing out five assists and stealing the ball four times.
He's not likely to repeat that performance.
"He probably won't bank a couple in,'' WVU coach Bob Huggins said.
WVU forward Cam Thoroughman has nothing but bad memories of that Jan. 1 loss, in which the Mountaineers actually played well save for the first four minutes and the final 90 seconds. They fell behind by 11 right from the start and then went scoreless after leading by a point with 1:44 to play.