Marquette had lost its last four games, all to ranked opponents, since losing starting point guard Dominic James with a broken foot.

Still, the 21st-ranked Golden Eagles (24-8), the fifth seed in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York, advanced into this afternoon's quarterfinals against Villanova with a 74-45 win yesterday over No. 13 St. John's (16-17), which had eliminated No. 12 Georgetown on Tuesday.

The 10th-ranked Wildcats (25-6) are the No. 4 seed.

The teams split during the season. Marquette won in Milwaukee on New Year's Day by seven. The Wildcats won by 18 at the Pavilion on Feb. 10.

Even without James, the Golden Eagles still have two other senior guards. One of them, Wesley Matthews, had 20 points against the Red Storm, which set a tourney record by scoring 10 points in the first half.

Both teams prefer to play through their backcourt, which usually makes this an entertaining matchup.

The Wildcats could pretty much lock up a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and also a spot in Philadelphia for the opening weekend, with another win.

- Mike Kern

In other games yesterday:

* Eric Devendorf and Jonny Flynn each scored 19 points as Syracuse (24-8) downed Seton hall (17-15, 89-74.

* Alex Ruoff scored 25 points and West Virginia (22-10) built 36-18 halftime lead then held off a surge led by Luke Harangody to beat Notre Dame, 74-62; Harangody had 27 points.

* Sharaud Curry scored 25 points and Providence (19-12) beat DePaul 83-74. DePaul's Will Walker and Dar Tucker each had 31 points, the first time two teammates scored more than 30 in a Big East Tournament game. *