The 2017-18 college basketball season is quickly approaching, and thus, we turn our attention to previewing the upcoming Marquette Golden Eagles men’s basketball season.
As you may have noticed, we’ve got a few new voices here on the site since the school year started. We’re going to take advantage of that and do something new for the season preview. We’ve got a stacked up list of questions about the 2017-18 campaign, and each of the new contributors to AE are going to take a crack at answering them. There will be a new question every weekday afternoon between now and the start of the season, so be sure to stop back every day to find the new one.
Onwards, then, to the question of the day:
What will be Marquette's three biggest wins on Selection Sunday?
To clarify: Let’s say that Villanova is the #1 team in the country on Selection Sunday, but Marquette loses to the Wildcats both home and away. They’re clearly the best team that Marquette played, but they can’t be the best win. So: Three best teams that Marquette beats, with added bonuses for winning on the road.
Pistol Brad: I am rather bullish on Marquette having some big wins this year. They may be offset by some rather unsightly losses but this question does not ask about that so here is my list of biggest wins on Selection Sunday.
1. At Wisconsin. It may not be the biggest RPI win of the year but beating a team like Wisconsin in their own building carries significance even if they are not an elite RPI/KenPom team.
2. At Seton Hall. I think Seton Hall will be a very good team this season and a win in their back yard would do wonders for getting Marquette into the NCAA tournament. I look forward to this being a coming out party for Theo John as he will be asked to go up against the baddest dude in the BIG EAST (and probably the country) in Angel Delgado.
3. VCU on a neutral court. VCU is not shaping up to be a tournament team this year but this game is still very important to the Marquette to win this game because it will significantly increase their strength of schedule by (probably) playing Wichita State in the second round rather than a team like Cal who is expected to struggle this year.
These might not be the top RPI wins Marquette has, but they are the most important wins that will get Marquette into the tournament.
Besay: Marquette has typically had a very weak non-conference schedule in the last few years. It's difficult to predict how they'll fare against top-tier competition like Mount St. Mary's, Purdue, VCU, and potentially Wichita State or Michigan. I'm totally joking about Mount St. Mary's, but they did make the NCAA Tournament last year as a #16 seed and played Villanova in the first round. Anyhow, I'll start in the Big East then tackle the non-conference schedule. I think the Golden Eagles are going to stun Xavier on the opening night of Big East play at home. This is more of a gut prediction than anything but wouldn't it be nice to start Big East play with a win over a likely top 25 team? A key road win I think MU will get is against Seton Hall on February 7. The Pirates are projected to be much improved this year with a lot of returning starters from last year's team that made it into the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles will need a big road win on their resume and I think this is the best team they'll beat away from home.
For non-conference play, it will be a combination of wins against VCU, Vermont, and Wisconsin that will put them in the conversation come March. Wisconsin is currently receiving AP votes and VCU and Vermont were tournament teams last year. I want to believe that Marquette will beat a Purdue or a Wichita State but I don't know how they'll play against these two top 25 teams early in non-conference especially considering their non-conference strength of schedule hasn't been this good for as long as I can remember.
CLagore: I'll go with a neutral site win against VCU in the Maui Invitational because the game will be played at 8:30 a.m. in Hawaii and VCU will be too tired to run and gun like they can. I'll also chalk up a W at Wisconsin because it's Wisconsin, but also because I think Matt Heldt can give Ethan Happ hell down there and be more physical than he likes. There are also no known big shotmakers on the Badgers for now. And I'm sure we'll need a couple of good Big East wins to sway the selection committee, so let's say the Golden Eagles sink Seton Hall on the road. Marquette was close last year, some poor rebounding and fouling certainly didn't help. SHU returns pretty much the same team, and throwing Heldt or Harry Froling or both at Angel Delgado might help.
Broadway Brown: I say a win in Madison against Wisconsin, in Providence against the Friars, and in Newark against Seton Hall could be three wins that would be huge on Selection Sunday. Marquette is capable of beating literally anybody in the country if they are shooting the three ball well. This is a hard question to answer because of that.
NHammertime: vs. Purdue, vs. Xavier, vs. Seton Hall. There are quality win opportunities aplenty on this schedule, especially if Maui shakes out the right way. I'll stick with home games, although they don't hold as much weight as road wins. Let's see if Marquette can send the BMO Harris Bradley Center off in style with some big home wins.
Ben Snider: VCU will be one, particularly since it will likely mean that they would avoid potentially finishing off the Maui tournament by playing Cal and LSU instead of Wichita State and Michigan/Notre Dame. I already know Paint Touches has a tweet drafted about the SOS difference between a win and a loss against VCU.
Wisconsin. They’re losing like everyone except for Happ who is definitely going to start making threes this year in the same way that I will become CEO of Amazon this year. [Editor’s note: Happ went 1-for-2 on threes in a charity exhibition against Northern Iowa on Wednesday night.] I just know they’re going to bumblejunk their way into a 7 seed or something despite not being good at all but still get into the Sweet 16. Anyway Marquette should win that, so hopefully we can still get something out of it.
Finally, I think they match up well against Providence. Even though they lost twice to the Friars last year (including in the game that revolutionized the sport, Basketball On Ice), a win on their court will be a huge road win for their tournament seeding hopes, especially if Providence finishes in the top tier of the league like many have predicted.