Marquette completed the game-by-game release of its non-conference schedule on Tuesday morning, and the results are not pretty. That’s being a bit kind. Marquette will play four high-major teams, one quality mid-major, and eight plump cupcakes.
Take a look for yourself.
Why is this considered a fail?
- This is one of the biggest pieces of control Marquette has. It can’t control who will be good in the Big East this year. It can only have limited say in who it will play in Thanksgiving tournaments. Yet, every single opponent scheduled directly by Marquette had a sub-300 RPI and Ken Pom rating last year. (Belmont, IUPUI, and LSU/ASU/NC State are determined by the Legends Tournament. Iowa is part of the Gavitt Games. Wisconsin is a home and away that has been on the schedule for a while now.)
- Obviously there will be some cupcakes, that’s a given. But the quality of the cupcake matters. You don’t have to just play Bluebloods every game. It’s about calculating the proper mix of “guaranteed win” with “RPI dead weight.” Playing Grambling has no upside whatsoever. You might as well play a DII team, as that won’t be used in RPI calculations.
- Here’s a perfect example of how switching up really bad teams for regularly bad teams can positively impact a team.
- Taking a broader view, piling on the RPI drains doesn’t simply hurt MU, it hurts the Big East as a whole, particularly with the round robin format that sees teams playing each other twice.
- Aside from competitive aspects, this schedule is a tough sell to potential Season Ticket Holders. You mean to tell me I get to see all of one NCAA team until January? No thanks.
- It kills walk-up sales. People don’t always come out to watch Marquette, as big name teams and rivals drum up broader interest, but this home slate guarantees that it is the only possible explanation.
- Remember all the doom and gloom about FOX Sports 1? It hasn’t gone away, and this can’t be very appealing to the head honchos there. We even wrote about the need for stronger scheduling last year. This is the exact opposite of a remedy for low ratings.
- As bad as it is for those lucky enough to go to games, it’s worse for those not in the Milwaukee area. FS1 won’t be picking up many if any of these non-Gavitt games. The Legends Tourney is on ESPN. So is the UW game. Only crumbs remain, and those crumbs will be placed on FS2, which has half the reach of FS1.
- Finally, this sends a bad message to the team. Athletes like to be challenged. They get up for big games just like the crowd. Playing teams this poor in quality might make a victory more secure, but it is telling them they can’t even be trusted to be good enough to beat a so-so team like, say, Nebraska-Omaha early on.
I placed an interview request to Marquette Athletics to speak with a staff member, so we won’t know what the logic behind the scheduling is until then. Conjecture is all we have to work with. My theory is that the staff wants to build confidence. They might feel an NCAA bid is within reach, but maybe not in the first months of the season when the team will work on building a foundation. Maybe King Henry needs some time to ascend the throne. Instead of taking what would still be considered bad losses against teams rated 200-275, they are guaranteeing victory (or trying to) against really poor teams. Belmont might be close to even money, Iowa will be favored, and so will UW. LSU and NC State would be as well. This may just be a strategy to guarantee some positive momentum that will pay dividend come Big East time.
Without confirmation from the staff, we just don’t know.
What we do know is Marquette will be hearing from more than a few disgruntled fans and writers.