Well, what a wild and wooly week-plus it’s been for Marquette, and they’ve only played one game. They went from having a chance to travel to Iowa for the WNIT game to not pulling off the win they needed to get there, to Thanksgiving, to expecting to play at the McGuire Center, to suddenly being yanked over to Fiserv Forum to beat UIC, and now they’ll head across town to play UW-Milwaukee instead of hosting them at the Al.
At least Sunday’s game against Michigan is expected to put the Golden Eagles back on track with what was expected at the start of the season, and that’s good news considering what’s up next.
Wednesday night’s game will be Marquette’s final tune-up before launching themselves into a string of six games where five of their opponents have their goals set on the NCAA tournament at a minimum. Michigan and Northwestern are both receiving votes in the AP poll right now, Mississippi State and Notre Dame are both currently ranked in the top six in the country, and Green Bay recently won on the road against #16 Missouri and has an eye on their 21st straight Horizon League title as the preseason favorite for the 11th straight year. Even Binghamton, Marquette’s supposed “break” game in the midst of that run is 4-3 so far this season.
After that six game run, MU launches straight into Big East play. From a certain point of view, it’s as if conference play really begins on Sunday when Michigan comes to town. Outside of the loss to Miami, Marquette has been mowing through teams with ease, so it’s hard to make any critical comments about how things are going for the Golden Eagles. Hopefully these blowouts mean they’re all doing exactly what head coach Carolyn Kieger needs them to do and it’s a result of optimization as opposed to anything else. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if MU is ready for the rubber to hit the road.
Game #6: at UW-Milwaukee Panthers (2-4)
Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Klotsche Center, Milwaukee, WI
Important Ticket Information: If you had already purchased tickets for this game at the McGuire Center (season tickets, for example), UWM will honor them.
Video Streaming: WatchESPN.com
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWBB
Marquette is 29-19 all time against UWM. The Golden Eagles have won the last six meetings, 17 of the last 18, and 22 of the last 24 dating back to 1992.
No one over on Milwaukee’s east side is going to try and tell you that they’re thrilled about how the 2018-19 season is going so far for the Panthers. However, you have to at least admit that they put themselves behind the eight ball a little bit in terms of the schedule, and they’ve also caught some bad breaks. They opened the season with two games against Big Ten foes, which seems like a mismatch. While Milwaukee lost both games, they were leading Indiana by one with 96 seconds left in a game where the lead changed 17 times and turned a 20 point Wisconsin third quarter lead into just an 11 point margin at the final horn.
They followed that up with a home win over Columbia, and then a three game trip to California. The Fresno State game wasn’t great, but in Saint Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic, UWM cut a nine point Gaels lead with 3:19 left down to a tie game with 14 seconds left. SMC got a game winning layup in the waning seconds and Milwaukee’s last second attempt to tie missed. In the second game of that event, a layup at the horn by Ryaen Johnson gave Milwaukee a two-point victory after trailing by as many as nine in the first half. In other words, they’ve been in some of these games and haven’t been able to close the door on a couple of occasions. Does that mean anything for this game, as I can’t really speak to the quality of their schedule so far? Maybe, maybe not.
Considering the turnover from last year’s roster, I’d say that head coach Kyle Rechlicz is doing a pretty solid job with this team. She finds herself without four starters from last year’s team and without 65% of the scoring from a team that went 21-12 and made it to the WNIT second round. Megan Walstad is carrying a big load for the Panthers right now, leading the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game as well as rebounds at 5.2 per contest. She’s also knocking down 46% of her threes, but she takes fewer than two per game. At 6’2”, the freshman from Minnesota could pose a problem for the Golden Eagles on the interior. Jamie Reit is right behind Walstad on the scoring chart at 11.0 per contest, and at 42% from long range and over five attempts a game, MU is going to need to keep track of her at all times.
In general, UWM does like to launch from outside. They rank #57 in the country in three-point rate according to Her Hoop Stats, and they’re just outside the top 100 in terms of shooting percentage out there. Generally speaking, that’s good news for Marquette, as their usual flaw has been defending the interior. However, MU can’t let a team comfortable with letting it fly get off easy shots out there, either.