Frank Franklin II, Associated Press
Louisville's Peyton Siva (3) defends Marquette's Jae Crowder (32) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinals of the Big East Conference tournament in New York, Thursday, March 8, 2012. Louisville won the game 84-71.

MILWAUKEE — This was supposed to be the year Marquette wouldn't have to spend the whole season talking about how they're going to get by without a big man.

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The Golden Eagles had 6-11 Chris Otule and 6-8 Davante Gardner — all 290 pounds of him — as options on the front line. Then they lost Otule to a season-ending ACL injury in December, and Gardner is just now getting back from the left knee injury he sustained in late January.

Gardner's ability to make significant contributions remains unclear going into Thursday's NCAA tournament opener. Coach Buzz Williams knows that conventional wisdom says the lack of size puts Marquette at a disadvantage, but he says statistics tell a different story.