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Marquette Men's Basketball To Open 2015-16 Season vs Belmont & IUPUI

No, not at the same time.

Craig Bradshaw is the leading returning scorer for Belmont.
Craig Bradshaw is the leading returning scorer for Belmont.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, the Legends Classic announced the match ups for the regional rounds of the 2015 edition of their tournament.  For those of you that haven't been carefully monitoring the comings and goings of the Legends Classic, the regional rounds is the name they give for the two home games that each of the "semifinalst" teams will play before heading to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center.

Marquette will open their 2015-16 season with their two regional round games at the Bradley Center.  The season opener will be on Friday, November 13, when they host Belmont.  That will be quickly followed with a home date against IUPUI on the following Monday.  That will make for a busy first seven days of the season, as MU will be hosting Iowa in the inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games on Thursday, November 19, but we'll talk about that when it's time to talk about that.

Friday, November 13: vs Belmont

2014-15 Record: 22-11
Returning Points Leader: Craig Bradshaw, 18.3 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Evan Bradds, 7.2 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: Craig Bradshaw, 3.1 apg
2014-15 Final KenPom Ranking: #135

Monday, November 16: vs IUPUI

2014-15 Record: 10-21
Returning Points Leader: Marcellus Barksdale, 9.5 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Marcellus Barksdale, 4.7 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: Marcellus Barksdale, 2.4 apg
2014-15 Final KenPom Ranking: #286

Belmont returns the top three scorers and six of their top 7 scorers from a team that made the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in the last five seasons.  Head coach Rick Byrd has a career record of 711-367, including a 619-312 mark while coaching the Bruins for the past 29 (yes, twenty-nine) years as he guided them from the NAIA up to Division 1 status.  If the name of the school is sticking in your head, it's likely because the Bruins are the team that knocked Cameron Payne and Murray State from the Ohio Valley tournament, thus costing the Racers an NCAA tournament spot.  This will be the first time that Marquette has ever played Belmont, which is not to be confused with Belmont Abbey, the former home of legendary Marquette head coach Al McGuire.

IUPUI is a different story.  The Golden Eagles are undefeated in two tries against the Jaguars: First a 76-68 home win in November of 2007, and then an 86-50 shellacking in December 2013.  Marcellus Barksdale only led the team in scoring in 2014-15.  Leading rebounder DavRon Williams was a senior, while assists leader P.J. Boutte has disappeared into thin air following the season.  He was a junior, but he is not currently listed on IUPUI's roster.  While the Jaguars had a rough go of it last season (21st least efficient offense in the country via KenPom), they do have on thing to hang their hat on that Marquette doesn't: IUPUI defeated Nebraska-Omaha, 89-84.  Even more impressively, they managed to do it on the road.

This set of games is a good result for Marquette.  When you're drawing up a non-conference schedule, it's always a savvy RPI move to schedule games against teams expected to compete for lower end conference crowns, and Belmont definitely fits that bill.  IUPUI, on the other hand, does not fit the profile of a team ready to compete in the Summit League.  However, they're not Kennesaw State, who finished #343 in the KenPom rankings last season, and avoiding the Owls is enough of a reward on its own.

126 days until the Henry Ellenson era begins....