Marquette Golden Eagles wrapped up things on Wednesday by announcing they had four more games to announce. They started off Thursday with one of the two mystery games left on the schedule: Vermont will be coming to the Bradley Center on Tuesday, December 5.
Tuesday, December 5 - vs Vermont Catamounts
2016-17 Record: 29-6 (16-0 America East)
Returning Points Leader: Anthony Lamb, 12.8 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Anthony Lamb, 5.5 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: Trae Bell-Haynes, 3.9 apg
Final 2016-17 KenPom Ranking: #63
This is a fantastic game for Marquette to put on the schedule. When all you want to see is the avoidance of sub-300 KenPom teams, adding a team that has never finished a season in the KP database ranked below 200 is above and beyond the call of duty.
As you can see, Vermont went on an unbeaten tear in America East play last season, becoming the first AE to go undefeated since they moved to a 16 game schedule under a different conference name back in 1994-95. They won the AE tournament as well and made the NCAA tournament for the second time under head coach John Becker. The Catamounts picked up a #13 seed in the NCAA tournament and were trailing #4 seed Purdue by just five points at 70-65 with less than four minutes to play.
That doesn’t necessarily mean all that much, but this draws that into relief: Vermont returns each of their top four scorers, including sophomore Anthony Lamb, who was the America East Rookie of the Year last season as well as Most Outstanding Player of the 2017 AE tournament. UVM also returns their top two rebounders, the 6’6” Lamb and 6’8” Payton Henson, so they should be mostly set to go in that regard as well.
One thing to watch for: Vermont has historically been one of the slower teams in the country with Becker as the head coach, ranking in the bottom 50 in the country in tempo in four of his six seasons. That may end up working out well for Marquette, as the Golden Eagles will be playing the notoriously slow Wisconsin Badgers in their next game. Interestingly, for a team that tends to play slowly, Vermont doesn’t like to shoot three-pointers. They’re pretty good at it -- 35% or better in each of the past four seasons — but it’s not a big part of their offense.
This will be Marquette’s second all-time meeting with Vermont. The Golden Eagles picked up a 89-58 victory back in December of 1995.