MILWAUKEE -- It’s an exciting time for Marquette basketball. The men's team faces No. 1 Villanova Tuesday night, January 24th while the women will host their conference tournament for the first time -- a slice of March Madness, coming to Milwaukee.
“Well you’re already really hyped up for the conference tournament, but you add this and it’s a whole other level," said Carolyn Kieger, MU women's basketball head coach.
Kieger’s team is in the middle of conference play, but in a few weeks -- March 4th through the 7th -- the Golden Eagles will host the 2017 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Tournament.
“This is just an amazing atmosphere to play in. Our fans are great. A lot of energy in the Al McGuire Center, so it’ll be big for us this year," said sophomore guard Natisha Hiedeman.
This is just the second year since the BIG EAST decided to go to campus sites instead of a neutral court, hoping to grow the energy and sizzle around the conference tournament.
“I think any student-athlete would tell you, it’s a whole lot more fun to play in front of fans instead of empty seats. Even if the fans are for the other team," said Bill Scholl, Marquette director of athletics.
The Al McGuire Center was a major reason Marquette earned its bid to host, and the arena will get a shiny new toy to unveil at the tournament.
"We’re bringing in a video board on a temporary basis for the tournament. We’re actually going to have it here, hopefully, for the last couple regular season games. But our goal would be to have one installed and in place by the time we kick off next fall," said Scholl.
Meanwhile the women hope to hoist the trophy on March 7th as BIG EAST Champions.
“It’s really exciting that we could have the chance to win it on our home floor," said McKayla Yentz, the team's lone senior.
“I don’t even think I can put it into words, to be honest. That’s a dream come true and something that we’re working towards every day," said Coach Kieger, an MU alumna.
Tickets are on sale now for the BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Fans can visit http://go.mu.edu/wbbbettickets or call 414-288-GOMU to purchase tickets. All-session booklets start at $25 for general admission and $50 for reserved seating. A limited number of courtside seating is also available for $100. Booklets include admission to all nine games.