We keep inching closer to the start of Megan Duffy’s first season as Marquette women’s basketball coach. The newest guidepost on our path passed by last Wednesday when the Golden Eagles announced their 2019-20 non-conference schedule.
The schedule is nearly perfectly broken up into a home half and an away half. The Golden Eagles will start the season with four straight home games, and five contests at the McGuire Center in their first six. After that, it’s four straight games away from 770 North 12th Street, before wrapping up the slate with one last home date right before Christmas.
We will see Morgan State, St. Francis (the one in Brooklyn), Illinois State, and Northwestern all come to Milwaukee in the first nine days of the season. That’s a jampacked opening to the schedule, particularly as Duffy works out what to do with her six freshmen who will have to play key roles right away.
The season’s first road trip comes in the form of a jaunt up I-43 to the Resch Center to see Green Bay. A week later, MU welcomes Mississippi State to the McGuire Center for the first of three games in this schedule against a 2019 NCAA tournament team. The Bulldogs advanced to the Elite Eight as a #1 seed back in March.
After that, it’s four straight away from home, but they’re not all road games. Marquette has a Thanksgiving weekend event out in California, with Saint Mary’s playing host. MU will play the Gaels on Black Friday before coming back less than 24 hours later to tangle with Tulsa out in Moraga. After more than a week off, it’s back in action, but instead of going across the country, the Golden Eagles will merely go across town to play Milwaukee at the Klotsche Center.
After another eight days off, Marquette will visit South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits are coming off of a Sweet 16 appearance as a #6 seed last season, although Marquette absolutely wrecked them in the McGuire Center to open the 2018-19 season. The non-con slate wraps up with one final home game, with Belmont coming to town four days before Christmas. The Bruins went 26-7 a year ago and earned a #13 seed in the NCAA tournament.
This is quietly a very good schedule for Duffy’s team, or at least it is based on how teams finished the 2018-19 season. Using the Her Hoop Stats ratings, there’s only two sub-200 team on the entire schedule: The opener against Morgan State (#318) and Tulsa (#216). The same goes for using the NCAA’s RPI calculation, although there it turns into the first two games of the schedule: Morgan State (#311) and Saint Francis Brooklyn (#248). Six teams out of the 11 finished last year in the HHS top 100, while five were in the RPI top 100.
Parts of this schedule were locked in place before Duffy was hired. The Northwestern, Mississippi State, and South Dakota State games are return bouts from last year, and I imagine that MU was already committed to the Saint Mary’s event before the last month or two. To a certain extent, this was going to be a pretty strong schedule no matter if it was Carolyn Kieger or Megan Duffy running the show. Not only are these quality squads all over the place, but Marquette was always going to be losing five senior starters that played heavy minutes. No matter who was the coach, the potential for an uphill battle while integrating the freshmen and carving out new roles for pretty much everyone was looming.
If Duffy and her staff figures out the rotation quickly — and given the start to the season, they’re going to have to — the potential to rack up quality wins is there. If that happens, it’s not unreasonable to think that Marquette could be headed towards a fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance. There’s still a lot of question marks to be dealt with, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for now.
Here’s the full slate for you!
All times Central
2019-20 Marquette WBB Non-Conference Schedule
|Tuesday, Nov. 5||Morgan State||Milwaukee||TBD|
|Thursday, Nov. 7||St. Francis College||Milwaukee||7:00 PM|
|Sunday, Nov. 10||Illinois State||Milwaukee||2:00 PM|
|Thursday, Nov. 14||Northwestern||Milwaukee||7:00 PM|
|Tuesday, Nov. 19||at Green Bay||Green Bay, WI||TBD|
|Monday, Nov. 25||Mississippi State||Milwaukee||7:00 PM|
|Friday, Nov. 29||at Saint Mary's||Moraga, CA||4:00 PM|
|Saturday, Nov. 30||Tulsa||Moraga, CA||2:00 PM|
|Sun. Dec. 8||at Milwaukee||Klotsche Center||TBD|
|Tuesday, Dec. 17||at South Dakota State||Brookings, SD||TBD|
|Saturday, Dec. 21||Belmont||Milwaukee||2:00 PM|