Over the past few days, Marquette has released the non-conference schedule for the upcoming men's basketball season. If you've been reading our posts or keeping up on Twitter, you've probably seen that we're not huge fans of what head coach Steve Wojciechowski and the basketball staff has cooked up.
So, the obvious thing to do is to compare it to the last few years of non-conference schedules and see if it actually is as bad as we think.
Here's the data for the last five seasons of Marquette basketball schedules. "Lowest" refers to the best ranked team according to the previous year's final KenPom.com rankings and "highest" refers to the worst ranked team. Any games not preset on the schedule (namely tournament games that aren't known until after MU wins or loses, like this year's Legends Classic) are not counted.
Low: Duke (1)
High: Mississippi Valley State (326 of 347 teams)
Average of MU's 12 opponents: 185.9
Median Opponent Ranking: 207
Low: Wisconsin (7)
High: Norfolk State (302 of 345 teams)
Average of MU's 11 opponents: 151.8
Median Opponent Ranking: 156
Low: Ohio State (2)
High: UMBC (339 out of 345 teams)
Average of MU's 10 opponents: 163.4
Median Opponent Ranking: 176.5
Low: Ohio State (6)
High: Grambling State (347 out of 347 teams)
Average of MU's 10 opponents: 176.5
Median Opponent Ranking: 207
Low: Wisconsin (6)
High: Tennessee-Martin (313 out of 351 teams)
Average of MU's 8 opponents: 170.8
Median Opponent Ranking: 206
That gives us a nice baseline reading to try and figure out if this coming season's schedule is actually as bad as we think. Here's how the 2015-16 schedule filters out:
Low: Wisconsin (3)
High: Grambling State (351 out of 351 teams)
Average of MU's 11 opponents: 254
Median Opponent Ranking: 321
YUP, IT'S BAD.
Over the last five years, the average was never higher than 186. Now, all of a sudden, it's crashed down to 254. The median shifted around a little bit from year to year, but it was never lower than 207. Here, it's 321. There's just as many teams ranked better than Presbyterian on KenPom's final 2014-15 rankings as there are teams ranked worse. That's a complete nightmare.
Now, in fairness, those numbers don't figure in the Legends Classic games, because we don't know who Marquette will be playing. Unfortunately, last year's numbers don't factor in the Orlando Classic, which added Georgia Tech, Michigan State, and Tennessee. It also didn't include Alabama A&M since it was added later on, but the net balance on those four games was going to be a drastic improvement anyway.
So here we are, facing the worst schedule in the last six seasons. Even if we dig into the AE vaults (and by the way, someone needs to clean up down there. I call "Not it.") and look at when we started doing these kinds of posts, it's still the worst schedule in our time covering Marquette hoops around these parts. If Wojo and crew have making the NCAA tournament a priority for this season, coming out of Iowa, the Legends Classic, and Wisconsin with AT LEAST a 2-2 record is going to be monumentally important.