Well, here we are, at the start of another Big East men’s basketball season. Optimism abounds, as YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles head in to wage battle against their nine league foes in a double round-robin.
Maaaaaaybe we should hold off on the optimism, though, or at least properly adjust it for a little later on in the season.
You see, after tonight’s league opener at home against Georgetown, here’s Marquette’s next seven games, along with the current Associated Press top 25 ranking where appropriate:
- at Seton Hall
- at #1 Villanova
- vs Seton Hall
- vs DePaul
- at #13 Butler
- at #10 Creighton
- vs #1 Villanova
That, in a word, sucks. Oh, by the way: Seton Hall is sitting three spots outside the top 25.
Taken individually, are you going to be that disappointed if Marquette loses to Villanova? Or Butler? Or Creighton? Especially with three of those four games coming on the road? Seton Hall put the boots to Marquette twice last season, and they’ve returned their defensive core from that team. KenPom thinks the Golden Eagles can split those two games, but I’m deathly afraid of the Pirates and wouldn’t be surprised to see those both turn into losses.
This gives us a situation where the only two games that I feel comfortable saying “hey, Marquette should win that game” are the home games against Georgetown and DePaul. 2-6 to open Big East play? That sounds awfully bad, but it seems not only realistic, but also very likely.
It’s mostly just a function of the schedule, though. Villanova and Seton Hall twice before getting Providence or St. John’s even once? Luck of the draw. Bad luck, sure, but that’s how it goes.
If you look up in late January and Marquette is below .500 in league play, they’re (probably) not struggling. They got caught with a schedule that was front loaded with teams primed to make deep tournament runs this season. The Golden Eagles will still get chances to earn top 50 and top 100 wins when February rolls around. The only problem is that MU’s margin for error when it comes to racking up those wins will have disappeared completely. When you’re sitting at 2-6 at best and need to finish 7-3 or better to even think about the NCAA tournament, that’s a rough way to go about things.
Maybe Marquette will surprise us over the next four weeks. Maybe they shock the world and drop Villanova at home. Crazier things have happened.
It all starts tonight when the Golden Eagles host Georgetown. Maybe it’s silly to call game #1 of an 18 game league slate a must win game, but MU can’t really afford to let a winnable game pass them by, not with this opening eight game run in front of them.