Marquette (26-9, 14-4 Big East)
Postseason: NCAA Elite 8 (55-39 loss to No. 4 Syracuse)
This is the fifth installment of a 10-part series evaluating the schedules of the 10 Big East teams for the 2013-14 season. Above record, tournament finishes are from last season.
Marquette surprised many around the country by earning a share of the Big East title with a 14-4 conference record, but didn’t have much to show for itself in non-conference play.
That should change this year. The Golden Eagles sport one of the most difficult non-conference slates in the country, much less the Big East and should be a favorite to contend for another Big East title with the arrival of a much-heralded freshman class.
Schedule (all times Central)
Nov. 8 – vs. Southern 7:00 FSN
Nov. 12 – vs. Grambling State 6:00 Fox Sports 1
Nov. 16 – vs. Ohio State 2:00 FOX
Nov. 21 – vs. New Hampshire 7:00 CBS Sports
Nov. 25 – at Arizona State 8:00 Fox Sports 1 (Wooden Legacy non-bracketed game)
Nov. 28 – vs. Cal State Fullerton 3:30 ESPN2 (Wooden Legacy, Fullerton, Calif.)
Nov. 29 – vs. Miami/George Washington 2:30/5:00 ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN3 (Wooden Legacy, Fullerton, Calif.)
Dec. 1 – TBD (Wooden Legacy, Anaheim, Calif.)
Dec. 7 – at Wisconsin 1:15
Dec. 14 – vs. IUPUI 2:00 Fox Sports 1
Dec. 17 – vs. Ball State 8:00 Fox Sports 1
Dec. 21 – vs. New Mexico 8:00 ESPNU (Las Vegas)
Dec. 28 – vs. Samford 1:00 FSN
Dec. 31 – at Creighton 9:00 Fox Sports 1
Jan. 4 – vs. DePaul 1:00 CBS Sports
Jan. 9 – at Xavier 8:00 Fox Sports 1
Jan. 11 – vs. Seton Hall 1:00 FSN
Jan. 18 – at Butler 1:00 CBS Sports
Jan. 20 – at Georgetown 8:00 Fox Sports 1
Jan. 25 – vs. Villanova 1:00 Fox Sports 1
Jan. 30 – vs. Providence 6:00 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 1 – at St. John’s 11:30 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 4 – vs. Butler 8:00 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 11 – at Seton Hall 6:00 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 15 – vs. Xavier 5:00 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 19 – vs. Creighton 7:00 Fox Sports 1
Feb. 22 – at DePaul 5:00 CBS Sports
Feb. 27 – vs. Georgetown 8:00 Fox Sports 1
March 2 – at Villanova 1:00 CBS
March 4 – at Providence 8:00 Fox Sports 1
March 8 – vs. St. John’s TBD Fox Sports 1
Marquette shouldn’t have to worry about its first two opponents, although Southern scared the hell out of No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament last year before bowing out. And Grambling didn’t win a game last year. So there’s that.
Assuming there is no condensation on the Bradley Center floor, Marquette should get a great litmus test against Ohio State in its third game. The Buckeyes lost Deshaun Thomas after a misguided early entry to the NBA draft, but bring in highly touted prospects Kameron Williams and Marc Loving to an already solid rotation featuring Aaron Craft, LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith, Jr.
Following a home game with New Hampshire, Marquette will make its first road trip to the desert to take on an Arizona State team that many expect to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid this year, led by the blur that is Jahii Carson. This question for ASU is do they have anyone else?
The Golden Eagles then head to the Wooden Legacy and play host Cal State Fullerton in the first round followed by a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 matchup against Miami should the ‘Canes get past George Washington. A championship match against Creighton likely awaits Marquette if it can win its first two games.
The other teams on the opposite side of the bracket are Arizona State, Charleston and San Diego State.
Marquette will then travel to Madison for the annual rivalry game against Wisconsin. The Badgers should improve this year with the return of Josh Gasser from a torn ACL. Plus, playing at the Kohl Center is no easy task.
Home games against IUPUI and Ball State shouldn’t present much of a problem for MU, but a neutral site game in Las Vegas against New Mexico might. The Lobos had a bit of a tumultuous offseason with coach Steve Alford bolting to UCLA. New Mexico won 29 games last year and return leading scorer Kendall Williams (13.3 points per game) along with Alex Kirk (12.1 ppg).
A home game against Samford rounds out the non-conference schedule before Marquette travels to Omaha to play Creighton. Not exactly easing into it. From there, the Golden Eagles host DePaul, travel to Xavier, host Seton Hall and play at Butler before a tough road trip to Washington D.C. against Georgetown.
Winnable home games against Villanova, Providence and Butler are sandwiched around a tricky trip to Madison Square Garden to take on St. John’s. The Golden Eagles haven’t had much trouble winning at Seton Hall in recent years and then host Xavier before welcoming the Blue Jays to Milwaukee in a game that could go a long way in determining the Big East champion.
Marquette then travels to DePaul before arguably its toughest two-game stretch of the conference season (home vs. Georgetown, at Villanova) before winnable games at Providence and home against St. John’s.
Wins: Southern, Grambling State, New Hampshire, at Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, Miami (Fullerton, Calif.), IUPUI, Ball State, New Mexico (Las Vegas), Samford, DePaul (twice), Xavier (twice), Seton Hall (twice), Butler (twice), Georgetown, Creighton, Villanova, Providence (twice), St. John’s
Losses: Ohio State, Creighton (twice, once in Anaheim), at Wisconsin, at Georgetown, at St. John’s, at Villanova
Prediction: 24-7, 14-4 Big East (tied for 1st)