All due apologies to Northern Illinois and American, but following Marquette‘s victory over Wisconsin, MU’s non-conference schedule is essentially wrapped up at this point.
From the perspective of evaluating what Marquette’s NCAA tournament profile looks like heading into Big East play, we have all the data that we’re going to get. The fact of the matter is that NIU and AU are not going to move the needle all that much, and all that’s at risk is whether or not MU wins the games.
Yes, head coach Steve Wojciechowski and his staff are going to take the Huskies and the Eagles seriously between the end of finals and Christmas, but for the purposes of what we’re doing here, MU’s non-conference schedule is over.
So, let’s see what we have, shall we?
First, though: We have to remind you that the NCAA selection committee is no longer evaluating wins and losses purely by Top 50/Top 100/Top 150 categories. They’ve dividing things up into four categories, where you get more credit for beating slightly lesser teams on neutral and road courts. It’s an attempt by the NCAA to take into account that it’s more difficult to beat a team on a neutral floor, and even more difficult to beat them on the road.
For the purposes of our conversation here, we’re only going to look at categories 1, 2, and 3.
- Category 1: Home vs RPI 1-30, Neutral vs RPI 1-50, Road vs RPI 1-75
- Category 2: Home vs RPI 31-75, Neutral vs RPI 51-100, Road vs RPI 76-135
- Category 3: Home vs RPI 76-160, Neutral vs RPI 101-200, Road vs RPI 136-240
Category 4 is literally everything else, and also includes Northern Illinois and American at the moment. If you lose a game to a team that falls into Category 4, you are probably hosed when it comes to the NCAA tournament anyway, so we’re just going to ignore it.
Marquette has played seven games against teams that fall into categories 1-3 through games played on Monday, December 11th. Two in Category 1, three in Category 2, and two in Category 3.
Here is MU’s records against each category:
- Category 1: 0-2
- Category 2: 2-1
- Category 3: 2-0
Like I said: It is what it is.
It’s also pretty much what might have been expected at the start of the season. The C1 losses are to Purdue and Wichita State. Neither of those are surprising losses, nor are they troubling in any fashion. The C2 games are against Vermont, Wisconsin (the two wins), and Georgia (the loss). I would have wagered at the start of the season that MU would have been 2-1 against those opponents, but I would have expected Georgia and Wisconsin to be on opposite sides of the aisle. Ultimately, that’s a wash. The C3 games are the LSU and VCU games, and again, that was the expected/hoped for result there.
Marquette’s NCAA tournament profile at this point in the season is fine. As long as Marquette wins their next two games, the profile will still be fine.
Here’s some good and/or terrifying news, though.
Four of Marquette’s nine home games in Big East play currently qualify as Category 1 games.
SEVEN of Marquette’s nine road games in Big East play currently qualify as Category 1 games. Georgetown and DePaul, get your acts together.
That’s an estimated 11 spins of the wheel for the Golden Eagles to show that they belong in the NCAA tournament over the months of January and February. They are going to need them, by the way, as MU’s RPI stands at #85 through the end of Monday’s action. That’s not going to be good enough to get into the NCAA tournament, but even a 5-6 record in those potential C1 games should work wonders in making the Golden Eagles look like a solid postseason contender.