It’s that time of the year again.
While many wade the tips of their toes in ocean waters, bathe their parched mouths with piña coladas, and melt their cranium by attempting to sit through an entire baseball game, college basketball sneaks through the door without making a noise — usually done by subtly releasing non-conference schedules, of course. Unless you’re the type of guy who spends his afternoons on athletic websites rather than in community pools, it’s nearly impossible to receive word in the heat of the moment, per say, that half of your favorite team’s season has been released to fans like yourself. Immediately, road trips can be scheduled, wins over rivals seem even closer to reality, or… analytical articles can be written by your favorite outlet for team news and opinion! CAN I GET A HELL YEAH FOR MARQUETTE NATION DOT COM!?
…No? Okay, well, here are the ground rules for this post anyways.
- We’ll preview each team and offer a win-loss prediction for each game. HOWEVER…
- None of the predictions can be held against us during the season, because the REAL preseason predictions will come in an enormous article closer to November. Who knows what’s going to happen between now and then? Derrick Wilson develops a killer midrange jumper? Steve Taylor grows four-to-five inches? Alright, probably not, but you get the idea.
11/08/14 vs. Wisconsin Lutheran (Exhibition)
It’s an exhibition game.
It’s also on a Saturday, so considering the weekend-exhibition combo status, it’d be best to treat this game as an opportunity to test your blood-alcohol level limitations at the Bradley Center. The only other reason someone would attend would be to observe the way Coach Wojciechowski (or otherwise known as, His Agelessness) conducts himself on the sideline. Why do I bring that particular subject up? Oh, no reason, really, only because we had to deal with this limb-flailing, boundary-crossing, raspy-voiced ogre stomping too close to the referee five times per half:
I’m still not sure if I’ll miss that or not.
11/14/14 vs. Tennessee-Martin
Quick disclaimer: this team isn’t the orange-and-white Tennessee Vols that you and I are familiar with. No, friends, this is the UTM Skyhawks we’re discussing, the same team that finished with an astoundingly miserable record of 8-23 last year, meaning their basketball team is just as atrocious as the university’s familiarity to the common man. Easy win, fellas.
11/18/14 @ Ohio State
OH, DEAR GOD.
Do we really wish to do this again? As in, potentially receive a similar thrashing to the 52-35 embarrassment we were slapped with last year? Wait, you don’t remember it? Let’s use this as a reminder as to why we should avoid the number eighteen for the rest of eternity…
18% … or, our field goal percentage after forty minutes of college-level basketball against THE Ohio State University Buckeyes. Most fans couldn’t tell if we were trying harder to put the ball in the hoop or secure a monopoly over the brick industry.
Eighteen … three-pointers attempted for YOUR Marquette University Golden Eagles.
One … three-pointer made by said Golden Eagles.
Eight … or, Marquette’s longest streak of points in a row before setting themselves on fire en route to a seventeen-point loss (so close to the magic number!).
18,700 … fans whose eyes underwent unrepairable damage by witnessing this game in person.
On the other hand, this years’ Ohio State Buckeyes enter the season without its top three scorers in LaQuinton Ross, Lenzelle Smith Jr, and, after his seemingly century-long career, Aaron Craft. These losses, however, should not lead us to underestimate the strength of this team. With three efficient 7+ PPG scorers ready to jump into the spotlight, an impact transfer in Temple’s Anthony Lee, and a terrifying height advantage led by 6’11 Amir Williams, the previously-mentioned 6’9 Lee, and four other players over 6’7, the Buckeyes seem anything but beatable, especially for our Golden Eagles. Considering these arguments and the fact that it’ll…
1) …be the second game of the season for Marquette…
2) …under a new head coach…
3) …who happens to be relying heavily on transfers and underclassmen, …
…I feel safe tallying up this one as a loss. The rewards for us winning this game, however, would be monumental. Fast forward to the last buzzer and imagine the camera panning onto one of our upperclassmen walking across the away court. As he wipes his forehead, the score pops up in the bottom, revealing a 4-point victory in favor of the Golden Eagles. Now look back at our players’ faces (yes, they’re filthy, but stay with me here). What emotions do you see in their faces? On the other hand, what emotions do you as a fan feel?
1) Relief. After 367 days of suffering since the last matchup, the Excruciatingly Agonizing Era of Terror ends with an early victory over the same team who first caused our pain. Our quenched revenge pales in comparison to breathing the fresh air of winning basketball.
2) However, as previously stated, revenge is still present. We got them back, dammit, and on their own court too!
3) Hope. Coach Wojciechowski and the players just commenced both the season and the Wojo Era with a win over a perennial power in college basketball, leading Marquette to a 2-0 record and to quickly adopting an optimistic attitude for the new age of Marquette basketball.
Unfortunately, I still hold the belief that we’ll lose this game.
11/22/14 vs. Nebraska-Omaha
Another deceiving university name, as Nebraska-Omaha is nowhere near the prestige of the red-and-white Nebraska-Lincoln Cornhuskers we’re familiar with. The deceiving strength of their basketball team, however, is an aspect of the university that fans should not overlook rather than research and analyze.
Three statistics from last year’s Mavericks squad stand out:
1) They possessed a KenPom ranking of 190, which is a surprisingly decent ranking for a team consistently matched up with teams in the 200s and even 300s.
2) Their adjusted offensive output ranked 205th and their adjusted defensive output ranked 178th, which, again, isn’t anywhere near top-25 caliber, but it’s surprising for an relatively unknown team.
3) They ranked fourth in the nation in adjusted tempo, meaning the Mavericks deploy one of the fastest-playing teams in the country. Their average offensive possession lasted 15.1 seconds, which was ranked 6th in the nation and three seconds under the D-I average of 18.0.
The Mavericks lose their two most productive players according to KenPom, but return their leading scorer in CJ Carter, as well as one player averaging 10 points per game and two hovering between 9 and 10.
As for raw wins and losses, Nebraska-Omaha never recorded any quality wins throughout the course of last season, but nonetheless only lost to Iowa by 8 points and UNLV by 3. Iowa participated in the NCAA Tournament and UNLV finished at a respective 20-13.
Considering these statistics, there’s still no reason to believe we should expect a loss from the Mavericks. However, don’t be surprised if it’s a close game for longer than fans would wish for. To reference last season’s opponents, pinpoint Nebraska-Omaha as closer to Southern than Grambling State. Still, again, this one should be a win.
11/24/14 vs. NJIT
Water cooler conversations around Milwaukee, for some reason typed in New Yawk Ack Sents:
“Ya think ‘Quette’s gon’ hand one to En-Jay-Eye-Tee tonight?”
“Tha wha? Tha WHO?”
“Ya’know, ya’know, tha New-Chair-See Insta-Toot a’ Teck-NAW-lerjy!”
“Fawgitabowt’em. They’a straight GAW-bij! EEE-Z win!”
“Jus’ gem’me some CAW-fee, will ya?”
I swear, non-conference previewing has me going insane, guys. Just stay with me here. It’ll probably get better, I think.
(To provide some necessary background information, the NJIT Highlanders were ranked 312th on KenPom last season, 18 spots ahead of IUPUI, who Marquette demoralized in an 80-56 victory at home. Don’t fret if you have a doctor’s appointment or family party or prostate exam or whatever that forces you to miss this match. I wholeheartedly assure you, we’ll be absolutely fine.)
11/27/14 through 11/30/14 at Orlando Classic Tournament
Eight teams are participating in this year’s Orlando Classic Tournament: Georgia Tech, Kansas, Marquette, Michigan State, Rhode Island, Rider, Santa Clara, and Tennessee. The official bracket has yet to be released, and the blank one on the tournament’s website tends to be confusing, so we doctored it to appeal to the casual fan’s motor skills on understanding such matters.
The bracket reveals that:
1) Each team is guaranteed at least two games, and at the most three.
2) Two non-bracketed matches take place three days before the tournament starts: Rider at Kansas and Santa Clara at Michigan State. Both take place at the home team’s campus, not in Orlando. As common sense indicates, these matches will not be duplicated in the first round of the tournament.
Referencing last year’s bracket, it seems likely that Marquette will face one of the garbage teams (Rider, Rhode Island, Georgia Tech, or Santa Clara) in the first round and either Kansas or Michigan State in the second. It’d be quite useless to predict outcomes based on a hypothetical bracket, so let’s just predict the outcome of every single possible match-up.
Santa Clara: Win.
Rhode Island: Win.
Georgia Tech: Win. (Scared by the name? Look up their record for the past five years. Horrendous. They don’t seem to be getting any better, either.)
Tennessee: Win. Tennessee’s a former NCAA Tournament team that lost, well, nearly their entire team, along with head coach Cuonzo Martin.
Kansas: Loss. Although the Jayhawks lost Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, they return Perry Ellis, Wayne Seldon, and breakout candidate Jamari Traylor, and haul in a top-5 recruiting class headlined by Cliff Alexander (#4 national ranking by 247 Sports) and Kelly Oubre (#3 national ranking by 247 Sports).
Michigan State: Win. Yep, you heard me. After losing Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, and Keith Appling, the Spartans will be relying on role players such as Denzel Valentine (8.0 PPG), Travis Trice (7.3 PPG), and Branden Dawson (11.2 PPG) to step up and lead this team on the offensive and defensive ends. Although the Golden Eagles lost their top two scorers in Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson, they return a far superior crop of talent in Deonte Burton, Duane Wilson, Jajuan Johnson, Todd Mayo, Steve Taylor, and others. With Michigan State’s tallest contributors being Kenny Kaminski (6’8″ / 4.9 PPG), Matt Costello (6’9″ / 4.0 PPG), and Dawson (6’6″), the Spartans also lack enough size to allow Marquette to compete in the paint, since Luke Fischer will still be ineligible at this point.
Expect a win from Marquette in their first match-up. If they face Kansas next, expect a loss, but if they happen to face the Spartans, expect at least a very close game. (And if we do beat Michigan State and arrive in the championship, there’s no way we’re facing anyone other than Kansas, so, again, loss to those damn Jayhawks.)
12/06/14 vs. Wisconsin
Oh. My. God.
Wisconsin at home.
Forget the previews. Forget the match-ups. Let’s talk fan-base implications. This game is so lopsided in terms of benefiting Marquette over Wisconsin it’s unreal. If we lose (hint: likely), we can play the “new coach” and “lack of experience” cards, writing off the loss as expected. If we somehow win, however…
1) We’re on a boat! We’re on a boat! Take a good hard look at the mother-f**king boat! Hit it, T-Pain!
I hope they play that song and “Jump Around” on repeat for the entire game. Well, unless we’re losing by more than twenty.
Oh, and speaking of “I’m on a Boat” …
I don’t care if that picture has Derrick and Jamil in it. It’s the Best Of All Time, or otherwise known as…the B.O.A.T. Thank you, thank you kindly. I’ll be here all day if you want.
2) REVENGE, for invading the Bradley Center with a sea of red in March. That wasn’t acceptable by any means. THIS IS OUR HOUSE.
3) Icing on the cake for destroying Wisconsin for in-state recruits. Take a good hard look, Matt Heldt, Nick Noskowiak, Henry Ellenson, and others. We’re the real sheriffs in town.
4) SCREW YOUR FINAL FOUR!
5) Cherry on the icing on the cake for beating the STATE SCHOOL WITH FIVE TIMES MORE STUDENTS THAN US in total number of applications, earning our beloved Marquette University the honor of “Most Desirable School in State” by eCollegeFinder.
6) Feeling like we’re back to kicking Bucky’s ass in basketball after a one-year hiatus from being overall better at everything.
Maybe we should preview the actual match-ups now?
Besides graduating three-point marksman Ben Brust, the Badgers return every significant contributor from last year’s Final Four squad, including Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Traevon Jackson, Josh Gasser, and others. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig seem primed for breakout seasons, strengthening an already stellar Wisconsin team. On the other hand, we lose Gardner and an elite defender in Jamil, and although we’re loaded in the talent department, it unfortunately doesn’t seem to be enough to topple the both talented and experienced Badgers. Sorry, fellas, this one looks to be a loss as of now.
12/16/14 vs. Arizona State
At the time of his transfer, Luke Fischer’s eligibility date was confirmed by numerous sources to be December 14th. However, due to finals schedules and dispute over the exact date as to when the first semester ends, some are questioning whether it is subject to change. No one is truly sure on the answer, but if it stays at December 14th, Fischer will suit up in blue and gold for the first time since his playing days at Germantown High School, and will do so against one of the more well-known teams on this year’s non-conference schedule.
The Sun Devils lose their top three scorers in Jahii Carson (18.6 PPG), Jermaine Marshall (15.1 PPG), and Jordan Bachynski (11.5 PPG), only returning two proven contributors in sixth-year senior Shaquille McKissic (9.0 PPG) and Jonathon Gilling (7.7 PPG). It doesn’t help either that three other players in Calean Robinson, Brandan Kearney, and Egor Koulechov all decided to transfer rather than step into leadership positions for the following season. Arizona State will have almost zero returning experience this year — simple take a look at last year’s box score against the Sun Devils:
Adding up the losses, four of Arizona State’s five starters will no longer be with the team, the only remaining piece being Jonathon Gilling, who least impacted out of the four on that particular night. Considering the minutes were heavily lopsided in favor of the starters, that’s a hit too large for bench players and transfers to adequately fill, especially when their leading scorer and point guard were taken in one enormous loss to the NBA. Transfers Willie Atwood, Savon Goodman, Gerry Blakes, and Roosevelt Scott should catalyze this team in the talent department, but it seems Marquette has both the necessary talent and experience to topple the Sun Devils this year around, especially considering that Arizona State doesn’t possess a player over 6’8″ besides one unproven, 6’10” center in Eric Jacobsen. We’ll chalk this one up as a win.
12/22/14 vs. North Dakota
North Dakota isn’t the ND we’d like the beat, but on the other hand, it’s the ND we should easily beat ten times out of ten games with this lopsided of a match-up. After a middling 17-17 season in the Big Sky, the formerly-known-as Fighting Sioux graduate five seniors, with all ranking in the top six of the team’s scoring output. The only KenPom rankings that somewhat stand out are Adjusted Tempo (48th in country) and Adjusted Offense (178th). Nonetheless, it should be an easy win.
12/28/14 vs. Morgan State
The Morgan State Bears finished last season with a record of 15-16.
The Morgan State Bears play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
The Morgan State Bears, even with their impressive rebounding numbers, lost 89-50 to Ohio State, 89-62 to Maryland, and 97-76 to Oregon, along with a few other blowout losses to unrecognizable teams.
Can we finish already? Win.
And with that, the non-conference schedule preview ends! If the Orlando Classic match-ups allow Marquette to finish 2-1 in the tournament, the Golden Eagles’ final non-conference record would be 8-3. If Marquette loses in the second round, however, finishing the tournament 1-1, their non-conference record would be 7-3. If we lose to Wisconsin and Ohio State, as we predicted, we’d be again short on quality wins, with only wins over a weak Arizona State squad and whichever Orlando Classic team we beat (pray for Michigan State, the much weaker of the two elite teams in the tournament). The schedule so far certainly has the potential for quality wins, but the collective strength of these teams may be too much to pick up more than two — and two alone is pushing it. Considering Marquette finished last year’s non-conference run with a 8-5 record (which currently sounds better than it actually was, since almost every win was over a mediocre-to-incompetent squad), an 8-3 or 7-3 record would satisfy me heading into Big East play, where hopefully we can bulldoze ourselves to an inflated record due to the lack of talent in the Big East. NCAA Tournament here we come (we hope and pray)!
Again, these predictions are subject to change until the season starts, since injuries and major improvements (DERRICK WILSON DEVELOPS A JUMP SHOT?? NO??) could potentially arise.
On another note, TODAY’S THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MARQUETTE NATION. We’d like to thank each and every one of our retweeters, favoriters, and followers on Twitter, the guys who manage the Marquette Reddit page, our frequent readers and one-time clickers on this website, and anyone else we can’t currently name. Pat yourself on the back. High-five a stranger. Awkwardly hug a relative. This is teamwork at its best!
Coincidentally, we published an article previewing the non-conference schedule as our first post, which is exactly what we did today, in case you skipped the entire post and didn’t even bother to read the title. If you’re curious to see how much of a tremendous improvement we’ve made in 365 days, click here. Imagine reading the sorry article on a blank WordPress blog theme with the former (and embarrassing) “Daily Eagle” brand plastered over the head of the page. Horrendous, right? Thank God for you guys! And for me too! Am I right? No? Okay, fine. Still, again, SHANKS FOR ERRYTHANG!
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