The 2019-20 college basketball season is quickly approaching, and thus, we turn our attention to previewing the upcoming Marquette Golden Eagles men’s basketball season.
To that end, we’ve got a stacked up list of questions about the 2019-20 campaign, and each of the contributors to AE are going to take a crack at answering them. There will be a new question every weekday morning between now and the start of the season, so be sure to stop back every day to find the new one.
Onwards, then, to the question of the day:
What will be the biggest surprise of the 2019-20 Marquette men’s basketball season?
If you can name it, it’s not really a surprise, is it? So, this isn’t really about being surprised, it’s about throwing out your hottest and yet plausible theory/idea/whatever for what’s going to happen to the Golden Eagles this coming season.
Marquette wins the Big East Tournament. Senior guards are the most important thing in March and Marquette has two. I think the debacle that was last year’s game against Seton Hall sticks in their heads as they walk in to Madison Square Garden one last time. Markus Howard ends false pre-season Big East POY Myles Powell’s conference career in the semi-final and Theo John punts him back to New Jersey where he belongs. Then Marquette goes on to beat a young Villanova team in the finals. Book it.
I hate making negative predictions, specifically about individual players, but I think fans have assumed good production out of Koby McEwen to the point that him merely being “pretty good” would be considered a disappointment. I don’t even think he’s an average high-major player this year. He has a ton of upside that he could still live up to, and I’m truly rooting for it to happen, but his numbers at Utah State were just not good. Synergy rated him in the 12th percentile (as in 88% were better than him) of all defenders in his final year there, getting carved up in pick-and-roll situations especially. He also took a ton of shots in an offense that really didn’t need him to, with Sam Merrill and Quinn Taylor providing more than capable help. In transition opportunities he turned the ball over 25% of the time, which is an area that Marquette desperately needs help with.
Marquette goes 11-1 in non-conference play. Book it.
I believe the unheralded Dexter Akanno will be a valuable rotation piece for Marquette by early Big East play. My thinking here involves the forward position being Marquette’s most shallow. Two of Sacar Anim, Brendan Bailey and Jamal Cain won’t play at all times, and while Wojo has suggested that he’ll play two centers a fair amount, I think Akanno’s strength and athleticism make him an ideal backup for Anim. I can see him developing into a lock-down defender for Marquette, ultimately replacing Anim as the go-to perimeter defender next season.
Symir Torrence will be the starting point guard by the end of the year. I think he’ll be a better option than Koby and Greg as the primary ball handler because he will develop into Marquette’s best passer while taking care of the basketball. He’s a sneaky good player. Right now it may be difficult to see where he fits in. But by the end of the season, he’ll be the difference maker for the Golden Eagles. As long as he doesn’t redshirt, I think he’ll make a run at Big East Freshmen of the Year.
If we’re being completely and totally honest, Sam stole mine. As seen over on Paint Touches, I’ve got MU running the table between now and the start of 2020 except for a Thanksgiving Sunday loss to Maryland down at Disney World.
With that said, given the overall reactions to things over in that PT article as well as the national perspective on the Big East heading into the year, it seems that my item for biggest surprise is actually my Big East standings pick, too. I’ve got Marquette winning the Big East regular season title this year. PREPARE THE EWING THEORY DISCUSSIONS.
Okay, that was a repeat of a thing I’ve already said in these roundtables, so it feels unfair to give that to you again. Here’s another one: Markus Howard doesn’t average more than 20 points per game this season. Still leads the team, but a diversity of options allow the sharpshooting senior to pick his spots on a nightly basis.