Thursday, December 21 - American University Eagles
2016-17 Record: 8-22 (5-13 Patriot League)
Returning Points Leader: Sa’eed Nelson, 14.9 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Sa’eed Nelson, 4.4 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: Sa’eed Nelson, 2.7 apg
2016-17 Final KenPom Ranking: #307
We already knew this game was coming down the pike, so seeing that #307 in the KenPom ranking isn’t a surprise. It is somewhat of a disappointment. After seeing Marquette announce high quality opponents like Vermont, Eastern Illinois, and Northern Illinois, it’s a bit of a bummer to see a team in a bit of a slide like American sneak into the schedule. The benefit of playing a team like Vermont is ultimately undone by playing a team like American that will likely end up as an anchor on the non-conference strength of schedule.
After a 20 win season in Mike Brennan’s first season in charge of the Eagles, American has won fewer and fewer game in each of the following three seasons. That can’t be a good trend. Also not a good trend: four players leaving AU this spring with eligibility still intact.
The good news is that Brennan returns his top two scorers from last season: Sa’eed Nelson and Mark Gasperini. Nelson is a guard, although a bit on the small side at 6’1”. Gasperini is a 6’10” forward/center who started all but one of AU’s games last season as a freshman. Gasperini stepped out to shoot a few threes each game (only 26% of them went in, though), so his mobility will provide Marquette’s young big men a bit of an interesting challenge on defense.
Marquette is 1-0 all time against American, with the lone meeting coming in December of 1992. It was a 90-74 victory for MU on that day, and hopefully this year’s Golden Eagles can replicate that margin with ease.