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Central Arkansas Schedules Marquette

Hey, when it’s the Bears making the announcement, that’s how we’re phrasing the headline.

NCAA Basketball: Central Arkansas at Louisville
Hayden Koval is UCA’s leading returning scorer.
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, Central Arkansas announced their 2019-20 men’s basketball non-conference schedule. Because you either A) can put 1 and 1 together to get 2 or B) read the headline on this article, then you’ve already determined that Marquette is on their slate. The Bears will be coming to Milwaukee and Fiserv Forum on Saturday, December 28, 2019.

You might be most familiar with UCA as the collegiate home for Jordan Howard, the older brother of Marquette guard Markus Howard. However, the elder Howard’s senior season was in 2017-18, so this isn’t a situation of scheduling a team in order for the two brothers to face each other.

In fact, I’m not quite sure why this game is scheduled at all.

Central Arkansas is coming off a season where they went 14-19 overall and 8-10 in Southland Conference play. They lose their top scorer to graduation, but they do return the next four guys on the scoring sheet, led by Hayden Koval at 12.5 points per game. In theory, the Bears should be better with that many returning top end of the rotation players.

However.....

Well, we talk about not playing sub-300 teams an awful lot around here. There’s no upside to it. It just drags down your strength of schedule and various measuring metrics while not providing the paying public a game that they’re super interested in attending.

Central Arkansas finished 2018-19 ranked #302 on KenPom.com.

With the exception of Jordan Howard’s senior year, Central Arkansas has been a sub-300 KenPom team every year since 2013-14. They’ve been a Division 1 program since 2006-07, and they’ve had just four seasons above #300 in those 13 seasons. Odds are they’re going to be a sub-300 KenPom team again this year.

Look, I get the idea of going extra soft for this game. Here’s what the expected Marquette schedule looks like in terms of game days right now.

I’m guessing that there won’t be a game on the day after Christmas, so this will be Marquette’s first game back after all the players go home for the holiday. I get leaning towards the softer end of the schedule.

However, you get the same effect of playing #302 Central Arkansas if you schedule #252 UC Davis instead. Or #262 New Orleans. Or #272 UNC Wilmington. You get the idea.

Marquette pulled this same stunt last year with Southern coming out of the Christmas break, and I didn’t care for it then, either. What did we get out of that game? A 43 point Marquette victory where MU went on a 33-5 run in the first half to take a 47-15 lead and Markus Howard didn’t play in the final 15 minutes.

Clap hands, squeal for joy, etc.

That’s five games scheduled for Marquette officially now, with the Kansas State game known but not assigned a date as of yet and the Wisconsin game presumably occupying its tradition December Saturday spot. We’re waiting on probably five more Marquette opponents, and hopefully they’re all a lot more interesting than Central Arkansas.