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The 2016-17 Marquette Basketball Non-Conference Schedule: SIU-Edwardsville

One final tune-up before conference play begins.....

NCAA Basketball: SIU - Edwardsville at Butler
This is Burak Eslik, who was a junior in college last year.
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

We needed one final home game to wrap up the Marquette men’s basketball non-conference schedule, and we got it on Saturday morning. MU will host Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville to wrap things up before Big East play starts on December 28th.

Wednesday, December 21: vs SIU-Edwardsville

2015-16 Record: 6-22, 3-13 in the OVC
Returning Points Leader: Burek Eslik, 14.0 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Carlos Anderson, 4.7 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: Carlos Anderson, 2.4 apg
Final 2015-16 KenPom Ranking: #321

I know we’ve made complaints in the past about schedule sub-300 KenPom teams. This is the one circumstance where I don’t care about that. SIUE is coached by Jon Harris, who played for Marquette from 1998-2002 and got his coaching start as a graduate assistant on the 2003 Final Four team. Yes, SIUE was not good last year, which was Harris’ first season. I don’t really care, because when you’ve got a Marquette alum out there coaching a team that you can sign up as a buy game, you do it.

SIUE did take a step backwards under Harris. Lennox Forrester had led the Cougars out of Division II and up to Division I as an independent before joining the Ohio Valley Conference. They had been showing signs of improvement, going 8-8 in the OVC in Forrester’s final season. Forrester and his staff were let go following that season because the "won-loss record and program support are not where we believe it should be," according to the athletic director. Right. I presume Harris is going to get about five miles worth of leeway to get things moving in a positive direction.

The Cougars lose their top rebounder (eligibility) and assist man (transfer) from last season, but Eslik was the top scorer on the team and Anderson’s stats were pretty good for the #2 guy in both of those categories. SIUE leaned heavily on Eslik and Anderson last year, with those two playing 81% and 78% of the possible minutes respectively, so from that perspective, there won’t be that much of a change in what they do on the floor.

We’ll have to wait to see what kind of team Harris puts together for his second season at SIUE, but they were really slow in year #1, ranking #271 in the country in tempo. That was largely due to offensive patience (#324 in average possession length), because they ranked #10 in the country in shortest defensive possession length. That’s probably indicative of the Cougars getting beat down the court in transition because they turned the ball over about as much as Marquette did on offense and didn’t force turnovers all that much, either.

This will be the first ever meeting between Marquette and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Here's the full non-conference schedule.

Date Opponent
November 7 Rockhurst (Exhb.)
November 11 vs Vanderbilt (Veterans Classic)
November 14 Howard (2K Classic)
November 17 vs Michigan (2K Classic)
November 18 vs SMU/Pitt (2K Classic)
November 22 IUPUI (2K Classic)
November 26 Houston Baptist
November 30 Western Carolina
December 4 at Georgia
December 6/7 Fresno State
December 10 Wisconsin
December 19 St. Francis (PA)
December 21 SIU-Edwardsville