On Wednesday, the Big East and the Big 12 jointly announced the schedule for the 2021 edition of the Big East/Big 12 Battle, the yearly set of games between the two leagues’ men’s basketball teams. YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles have drawn a road game against Kansas State on Wednesday, December 8th, 2021.
This is, to be quite honest, a lazy, boring, and starting to border on dumb decision.
Let’s run through the whole schedule of 10 games.
Dec. 1 Texas Tech at Providence
Dec. 2 Kansas at St. John’s
Dec. 4 Iowa State at Creighton
Dec. 5 Xavier at Oklahoma State
Dec. 7 Butler at Oklahoma
Dec. 8 Marquette at Kansas State
Dec. 8 Connecticut at West Virginia
Dec. 9 Texas at Seton Hall
Dec. 12 Villanova at Baylor
Dec. 18 TCU at Georgetown
If all the two leagues did was take last year’s final standings and smash them together to create games, this is what you end up with:
Villanova vs Baylor
Creighton vs Kansas
Connecticut vs West Virginia
Seton Hall vs Texas
St. John’s vs Oklahoma State
Providence vs Texas Tech
Xavier vs Oklahoma
Georgetown vs TCU
Marquette vs Kansas State
Butler vs Iowa State
I have bolded the six — Six! — games that are actually happening. I’m not even saying this is a bad way to do this, it’s actually the most sensible way to do it! But it really looks like the two leagues literally did this, made sure that there were no repeat games from last year — that’s CU/KU and XU/OU needing a switch there — and then called it a day.
Here’s the problem with doing that: This is the third year of a four year scheduling arrangement between the Big East and the Big 12, and Marquette already played Kansas State in The Battle.
You might remember Marquette’s recent-ish home game against Kansas State, as Markus Howard poured in 45 points on 17 shots to lead the Golden Eagles to an 83-71 victory over the #12 ranked Wildcats. That game was the front end of a home-and-home series that MU and KSU scheduled amongst themselves. The following year, Marquette made the trip to Manhattan for a game, and since that was already on the books, the Big East and Big 12 just absorbed it into The Battle and called it a day instead of working in another game for both sides. Very smart work that no one was arguing with at the time.
But now here we are two years later, and the two sides are just lazily smashing those two teams together again. It’s only a four year agreement between the two leagues, so it’s incredibly disappointing to see them hand MU a matchup that we have seen twice in the past three seasons and once as a part of this event already.
Let me come at this from a different angle.
Look. Marquette wasn’t good last year. Marquette is probably not going to be great this coming season. Okay, fine. So you don’t assign either Baylor or Kansas to MU in the event. West Virginia is out as well, as there’s a chance that the Mountaineers and the Golden Eagles will play each other in the Charleston Classic. Scratch Oklahoma State because they were MU’s partner last year. That leaves five non-Kansas State teams in the Big 12 to pit Marquette against.
Marquette is 5-3 all time against Iowa State, and the two teams have not met since March 25, 2004.
Marquette has never played Oklahoma.
Marquette is 2-4 all time against TCU, and the two teams have not met since March 9, 2005.
Marquette is 1-0 all time against Texas, and the two teams have not met since December 27, 1977.
Marquette is 1-0 all time against Texas Tech, and the two teams have not met since November 20, 2006.
I shouldn’t have to twist your arm to convince you that any one of these would be a more intriguing matchup than one that we just saw two years ago. Heck, Marquette and TCU used to be in Conference USA together. The story just writes itself there.
And if you want to talk about stories just writing themselves..... especially since Marquette was pretty much guaranteed to play a road game this year after hosting Oklahoma State last season...... Can I interest you in Shaka Smart making an immediate return to the sidelines at the Erwin Center in Austin, except on the opposite bench? Come on! Who doesn’t want to see that!? Marquette hiring away Texas’ coach is free advertising for the game that was just handed to you on a silver platter! Pull the trigger!
With the Charleston Classic and this road contest with K-State officially dated on the schedule, we may as well debut the Marquette non-conference calendar.
I believe the season is set to officially on November 9th, so anything before that is marked off with red as a day that can’t be used. Same goes for Thanksgiving and the day after as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. No reason to expect games on those days. The Charleston Classic is the three green days in November at the moment, and yes, there’s a day off in the middle because ESPN has college football games to broadcast on Saturday.
We know that Marquette has a road game against Wisconsin and a home game against UCLA to fit in here somewhere, as well as what I would guess would be a home game in the Gavitt Tipoff games. That leaves MU with space for what Deputy Athletic Director Mike Broeker already identified as four buy games on the schedule.