With four 2017 NCAA tournament participants on the schedule all away from the McGuire Center, including two traditional national powers, the Marquette women’s basketball team announced one hell of a 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Tuesday.
Feel free to pick your high point of the first two months of the season. Is it the neutral court game against Tennessee in the Cancun Challenge? Or would you prefer the road trip to South Bend to take on Notre Dame to wrap up action before the Big East calendar starts in late December? The Lady Volunteers reached their 35th consecutive NCAA tournament in 2017, bowing out in the second round to Louisville. The Fighting Irish have been to the tournament every season since 1996 and to at least the Sweet 16 in each of the last 8 seasons, including a one-point loss to Stanford in the 2017 Elite Eight.
That’s just the high points. The schedule opens with a return bout from last year as the Golden Eagles will head out to the southwest to tangle with New Mexico. The Lobos are the third 2017 NCAA tournament team on the non-conference slate, so that’s how head coach Carolyn Kieger and her team will kick things off. The home opener comes on November 19th when the Loyola-Maryland Greyhounds come to Milwaukee. From there, Marquette heads off to Mexico for the aforementioned Cancun Challenge, where they’ll also play Montana. The Grizzlies might have had a lousy season last year, but that’s what happens when you lose one of the best scorers in program history during early season practice. Montana will be better this season, and that can’t be a bad thing for Marquette. The Golden Eagles then return to Milwaukee to wrap up November by hosting Loyola-Chicago.
The first game of December sends Marquette up north for the third NCAA tournament on the slate, as they’ll play a road game against Green Bay. The Phoenix won their 19th consecutive Horizon League title last season, so that will assuredly be a bit of a test of MU. Next up is a pair of Big Ten foes, as Wisconsin comes to the McGuire Center and the Golden Eagles head to the east to play the 2017 WNIT champion Michigan, who are returning nine players from that title team. The last home game of the schedule comes on December 10th when Marquette hosts Army, and then they close out the non-con schedule with trips to visit Milwaukee and then, of course, Notre Dame.
That schedule is NUTS, and I love it. The average RPI from the end of last season in those 11 games is 152.8, and that’s being dragged down by Montana posting a #323 without their best player. I’m just going to come out and say it: This is the kind of non-conference schedule you assemble if you have your eyes on getting a top 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and hosting the first two rounds. If you think I’m kidding about that, please remember that Marquette was a #5 seed last season. Block out space on your calendars now, kids.
Here’s the full rundown with dates attached to the games, and a couple of times, as most of them are still TBD in that department.
2017-18 Marquette Women’s Basketball Non-Conference Schedule
|Monday, Nov. 13||at New Mexico||TBD|
|Sunday, Nov. 19||Loyola-Maryland||TBD|
|Thursday, Nov. 23||vs Tennessee (Cancun)||5:30 PM|
|Friday, Nov. 24||vs Montana (Cancun)||8:00 PM|
|Tuesday, Nov. 28||Loyola-Chicago||TBD|
|Saturday, Dec. 2||at Green Bay||TBD|
|Monday, Dec. 4||Wisconsin||TBD|
|Thursday, Dec. 7||at Michigan||TBD|
|Sunday, Dec. 10||Army||TBD|
|Sunday, Dec. 17||at Milwaukee||TBD|
|Wednesday, Dec. 20||at Notre Dame||2:00 PM|