When you get into signing agreements with public institutions, that means that the agreements are subject to open records requests. That's how we know, thanks to the Macon Telegraph, that Marquette will be in Athens, Georgia, to play Georgia on Sunday, December 4th, 2016.
It's the front end of a home-and-home series with the Bulldogs that will bring them to Milwaukee to play the Golden Eagles at some point during the 2017-18 season.
Yes, that's a Sunday game, and it'll likely be an afternoon game. That means it would be going up against the NFL in terms of scheduling. That's not the best thing in the known universe, of course, but you have to look at it from Georgia's perspective. Given the windows of availability on Marquette's schedule (more on that in a moment), the game was probably only available to be played on this weekend. You can debate whether or not Georgia's football team is going to be good enough to make the SEC Championship Game, but they sure don't want to be scheduling a marquee non-conference game on that day, which happens to be December 3rd. Regardless of whether or not the Bulldogs make the game, it's going to be played at the Georgia Dome, so you can see how the Georgia administration wouldn't want to compete for attendance.
For what it's worth to you, since these are the two biggest fanbases that crossover with Marquette: Both the Bears and the Packers have an early start on that Sunday.
Back to the availability issue. With the Georgia game locked in place, we now know the dates for six of Marquette's non-conference games:
- 11/11 - Vanderbilt (at the Naval Academy)
- 11/14 - Home Opener (2K Classic game)
- 11/17 - 2K Classic semifinal
- 11/18 - 2K Classic championship/consolation
- 12/4 - at Georgia
- 12/10 - Wisconsin
We learned when the home opener and the Wisconsin game would be played from the Marquette season ticket renewal packet, and that packet also told us that Big East play would begin on December 28. When you combine all of that with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Finals Week, there's really only four windows in the schedule where the Georgia game could have been scheduled. One of them - November 20-22 - will almost assuredly be occupied by the other home game that MU gets as part of the 2K Classic.
That left just three spaces for the Georgia game: The week after Thanksgiving, the first full week of December, and the week leading into Christmas. The trip to Athens ended up landing right at the mid-point of those first two spaces, the Sunday before the Badgers bus down to Milwaukee.
This is purely speculation at this point, but I would expect to get two games in the week before Thanksgiving, and at least one game in the week before Christmas. That would tally up 10 non-conference games, well short of the 13 that Marquette played last season. That 13 includes the mid-Big East schedule against Stetson, but obviously 10 scheduled games still falls short of the 12 games that Marquette played before league play started last year. We could see a dip in games played this season, or maybe a slightly jammed up schedule in November and December. One thing that would help bolster the available dates would be the return of the post-Finals Saturday contest, which had been a staple of the schedule under Tom Crean and Buzz Williams, but has not been played with Steve Wojciechowski at the helm.
In any case, I guess we're stuck waiting til early July as per usual, since it appears that Marquette is not leaking their schedule to CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein, unlike the rest of the known universe.