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Marquette healthy as the prepare for NCAA Tournament

The Marquette University men have not won a first-round NCAA Tournament game since Dwayne Wade left in 2003.

But at least the Golden Eagles will be healthy on Thursday, when they play Kentucky in the South Regional in Anaheim.

Last year, guard Jerel McNeal sat out Marquette's first-round loss to Michigan State with a broken bone on his right thumb.

It happened at practice just before the final game of the regular season. McNeal said he was making a play on the ball, but he's still not sure how he got hurt.

The break was repaired the next day, but Marquette said nothing about it at the time.

Marquette Coach Tom Crean said lots of people were speculating, but nobody got it right. Meanwhile, McNeal tried in vain to convince the coaches he could play.

This year, McNeal is a specimen of health. He was one of just two Golden Eagles to start all 33 games and he was named to the Big East All-Tournament team last weekend.

Marquette is seeded sixth at 24-9 while Kentucky is seeded at No. 11 at 18-12.