With the recent announcement of this year’s Big East schedule, Marquette’s season outlook is officially complete. Do me a favor and open your mouth. Doesn’t have to be much, but just enough for your tongue to stick out.
Do you taste it? That familiar sensory overload glazed over your palate?
That’s the taste of real basketball. No more umbrella terms to talk about the season as a whole. We have actual, real life games to talk about. So let’s get into it.
I’ll break the Big East portion of the season into segments of 4 or 5 games, give observations and then say what our expectations should be for each segment and then what a reasonable goal should be. Then I’ll tie it into the rest of the non-conference season.
1/1 at St John’s
1/6 vs Xavier
1/9 at Creighton
1/12 vs Seton Hall
1/15 at Georgetown
So, right away Marquette will get tested at St. John’s. It will be a huge litmus test for Chris Mullin’s squad with the amount of pressure that team will have to make some noise in the conference. We still don’t know if Mustapha Heron is officially ineligible, by the way.
Xavier will be an interesting matchup. T-Rank has them just below Marquette in the preseason projections, and Travis Steele’s first year at the helm can go many different ways with how he has patched his roster with a lot of transfers.
I’m not worried about Creighton or Seton Hall. They’re both primed for down years and Wojo has had success against their respective coaches.
I’m scared of a letdown game against Georgetown, especially if Patrick Ewing’s relative success last year wasn’t an accident.
Reasonable Goal: 4-1
1/20 vs Providence
1/23 vs DePaul
1/26 at Xavier
1/30 at Butler
I don’t know what to think of Providence overall going into the year, but I know Ed Cooley has something up his sleeve with Makai Ashton-Langford. He gameplans for Marquette frustratingly well.
Don’t lose to DePaul.
Xavier and Butler on the road 4 days apart could be trouble, but LaVall Jordan doesn’t have the luxury of a tournament-ready roster on his lap this year and I think Kamar Baldwin is a bit overrated.
One more thing: Doesn’t Travis Steele kind of look like that dad at a PTO meeting who says, “Hey, let’s keep it down a bit” when there’s another couple whispering to each other during his speech?
Reasonable goal: 3-1
2/5 vs St. John’s
2/9 vs Villanova (National Marquette Day)
2/12 vs DePaul, but located in Wintrust Arena
2/20 vs Butler
2/23 at Providence
All but one here is a rematch, so two points:
- Don’t lose to DePaul. I’m getting the shivers again thinking about that bloody piss of a game. Ruined Black Panther for me.
- I think we can expect a win against Villanova at home. I would be saying this if the game weren’t a Saturday game on National Marquette Day, but those two things certainly help a ton.
The last few years that I’ve looked at the schedule, I’ve thought about how Marquette can tread water. If they could beat the teams that they’re supposed to and get a lucky bounce or two on another couple games, they had a tournament shot.
This year is different. They are going into the year with enough talent to get a decent seed in the tournament. They don’t do that without winning games against top competition. Villanova will still be great and is very likely winning the Big East, but they’re down a bit after losing 4 starters. If Marquette were to lose a home game or two this year, the Wildcats will likely be one of the teams they lose to, but it’s time to set the bar a little higher.
Expectation: 3-2 (The losses being at Providence and then at home against Butler just because at some point they’ll lose to an inferior team)
Reasonable Goal: 4-1
2/27 at Villanova
3/3 vs Creighton
3/6 at Seton Hall
3/9 vs Georgetown
After that rousing speech about toppling the kings of the Big East, here’s a quick fact to tamp that down. Jay Wright has been swept by a team only twice since 2014. Probably not happening again this year.
Reasonable Goal: 3-1
If you’re counting at home, I’m expecting Marquette to go at least 11-7 in the conference this year with a high mark of 14-4. That latter number would have tied with Villanova for second in the conference last year.
So let’s roll with 11-7 in conference play. That would have been third last year, but I can see that tying for second this year. With 7 buy games that pushes the expected record to 18-7. The big non-con tests will be at Indiana, K-State, Buffalo, and Wisconsin at home, and on a neutral court against Kansas and either Tennessee or Louisville. I think 3-3 is a fair mark to try and reach, so now we’re at 21-10. Let’s say they lose in the semis of the Big East Tournament, so now they’re 22-11 going into Selection Sunday.
Quickly glancing at the teams in power conferences with similar records, that would put Marquette at around a 6 seed, which is perfectly fine. But turning a conference regular season and tournament loss into a win can make them a 4 seed just like that.
These expectations might feel a bit drastic, but the talent is right there. Adding one 6’3” and two 6’7” players and subtracting a 5’11” player should fix their defense enough to complement an already elite offense, even if Wojo doesn’t do anything else. It’s time to start seeing the fruits of the last 4 years. We have two months until we start to find out for themselves. Until then, enjoy the Brewers.