Marquette Sweet 16 sendoff; men's basketball team hyped for Dallas

MILWAUKEE - The Marquette Golden Eagles men's basketball team is on its way to Dallas on Wednesday, March 27 to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

The university hosted a team sendoff around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. There were dozens of fans on hand to cheer the team as players and coaches boarded the bus. The last time the Golden Eagles were in the Sweet 16 was in 2013.

During Wednesday's sendoff, there was excitement and energy in the air. The band was playing, fans were lined up with pom pons and there were plenty of signs wishing the team good luck.

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Many MU fans are feeling confident the team can beat North Carolina State on Friday, March 29. One cheerleader told FOX6 News Marquette travels well – and in Indianapolis, there was a good showing of Marquette fans in the stands. They hope in Dallas, it'll be even better.

"The energy. Even people just standing around you can tell they are excited people want to be here they want to see the game want to see how far we can go in March Madness," said Matthew Valentino, Marquette cheerleader.

Team notes

Marquette owns a 75-29 record under coach Shaka Smart despite posting a negative rebound margin in each of his three seasons. The Golden Eagles have been outrebounded in each of their last eight games but have gone 5-3. They’re getting outrebounded by 3 boards per game this season.

The only other Sweet 16 team with a negative rebound margin is North Carolina State (minus-0.8), which faces Marquette on Friday.

<div>(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)</div>
(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As for North Carolina State, Mohamed Diarra has 6.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game this season, but he’s averaged 11.7 points and 13.5 rebounds over his last six. Michael O’Connell scored in double digits three times and totaled 14 3-point baskets in 31 regular-season games. He’s reached double figures in six of seven postseason games and has gone 12 of 22 from 3-point range during that stretch.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.