News already broke that Marquette would be hosting Fresno State this season, but today, the athletic department made it official and gave us a date, too. Well, kind of.
That week is going to suck out loud. Road trip to Georgia on Sunday, home for Fresno State on Tuesday or Wednesday, Badgers come to town on Saturday. Is there a non-event week for a high major Division 1 team this season where they will play three top 100 KenPom teams before the first of the year? There’s a chance that Marquette could do it.
December 6th or 7th: vs Fresno State
2015-16 Record: 25-10, 13-5 in the Mountain West
Returning Points Leader: Karachi Edo, 10.1 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Karachi Edo, 6.3 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: Cullen Russo, 1.7 apg
Final 2015-16 KenPom Ranking: #108
First things first: That KenPom ranking needs a teensy bit of clarification. The Bulldogs finished the regular season on a six game winning streak that boosted their KenPom status from #132 to #120 when the Mountain West tournament kicked off. Then they won the tournament as the #2 seed, and that got them up to #105 when they played Utah in the first round of the NCAA tournament as a #14 seed.
Winning nine straight games and 11 of 12 isn’t a fluke, let’s make that perfectly clear. It does, however, make Fresno State look a bit better than they had during most of the regular season, like, say, when they lost on the road to Cal Poly or San Jose State. Yes, they lost (albeit on the road) by 12 to the same San Jose State team that Marquette clonked (admittedly at home) by 18. With all of that said, FSU was #101 in KenPom following the Cal Poly loss and #145 after the SJSU loss. Even with those losses, Fresno State is still an impressive resume booster game to get on the schedule without a return game in future seasons.
Fresno State has lost their top two scorers from last season, but only one of them is a new development for the squad. Marvelle Harris (20.7 ppg) was a senior who scored 24 points in his final collegiate game, but that’s not the new development I was talking about a moment ago. FSU booted junior Torren Jones off the team officially in April after the postseason was long since over, but he hadn’t played since January. His sudden departure from the team matches up perfectly with his arrest for drug possession on campus.... and it matches up almost perfectly with the sudden explosion forward by the Bulldogs. The first game that Jones missed was the loss at SJSU, but right after that is when Fresno State started up their run to the postseason. Seems like a little bit of a Ewing Theory there, hmm?
Marquette is 1-0 all time against Fresno State, with the lone meeting coming back in December of 1979.
Tomorrow’s announcement will almost assuredly be the Wisconsin game, which is scheduled for December 10th. Past that? It’s all a mystery.