Marquette wrapped up Thursday’s basketball non-conference announcements by going for the mystery team instead of the already known American University game. MU will start things back up after Finals Week by hosting Northern Illinois.
Monday, December 18, 2017 - vs Northern Illinois Huskies
2016-17 Record: 15-17 (7-11 MAC)
Returning Points Leader: Eugene German, 9.0 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Jaylen Key, 4.3 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: Justin Thomas, 1.2 apg
Final 2016-17 KenPom Ranking: #205
First things first: This will be the first game of the 2017-18 season where Harry Froling will be eligible to play for Marquette. Froling left SMU after a semester, and after sitting out the spring semester at MU due to NCAA transfer rules, he will still have to sit out the fall semester. This game is the first that the Golden Eagles will play after final exams for the fall period, thus Froling will be available. It’s the exact same procedure that took place when Luke Fischer became eligible during head coach Steve Wojciechowski’s first season in Milwaukee.
Now, onwards to the Huskies. At a glance, with their #205 KenPom ranking last year and their overall stances of generally hovering somewhere in the 200s for the past few seasons, this should probably be a good buy game for Marquette. However, there are a few question marks to address. First, NIU’s leading scorer and rebounder last season, Marin Maric, finished his degree and moved on to DePaul for his final season of eligibility. Losing a double-double threat like Maric (14.4 points, 8.4 rebounds) will not be helpful, of course.
Head coach Mark Montgomery also booted Laytwan Porter, his leading assists man, off the team during the MAC tournament last year. Porter had been suspended twice before Christmas last season, so something else must have happened to result in his dismissal. They also lose seniors Aaric Armstead and Dontel Highsmith, but those were expected departures.
One fun note: There’s probably going to be a significant NIU presence in the Bradley Center for this game. Jaylen Key and Levi Bradley are both Milwaukee natives, with Key attending Homestead High School and Bradley graduating from Pius XI. I think it’s safe to say that they’ll have a number of friends and family in attendance to see them play.
Marquette is 5-2 all time against Northern Illinois. The most recent meeting was in 1993, with Marquette getting the 73-58 win in DeKalb. MU has won the last two meetings with the most recent NIU victory in the series coming in 1985.