Are y’all aware of Rocco Miller on the Twitter machine? He’s been doing bracketology for men’s college basketball for at least three seasons according to Bracket Matrix, and he’s expanded into being Schedule Announcement Guy as well. I respect it, gotta stay busy between the middle of March and November somehow.
ANYWAY, Miller appears to have gotten his hands on the details of the Palms Division of the Fort Myers Tip-Off. You might remember the Fort Myers Tip-Off from such exciting announcements as Marquette Participating This Coming November. The Golden Eagles will be in the four team Beach Division, so nothing about Miller’s report here affects MU’s events down in Florida. The Palms Division will consist of Sam Houston, South Dakota, Long Island, and Northern Illinois, and those four squads will play the same semifinals/finals/consolation game schedule that Marquette and their three friends will play during Thanksgiving week.
Why are we bringing this up at all? Because part of Miller’s report here says that Marquette will be hosting Long Island on Thursday, November 17th as all four Beach Division teams host one of the Palms Division teams for a non-conference game.
Now, you might be saying “wait, you keep saying Long Island, don’t you mean LIU Brooklyn?” No, I do not. Starting with the 2019-20 school year, Long Island University merged the athletic programs of the LIU Brooklyn and LIU Post into a singular Division 1 operation. They’re now just Long Island, or LIU if you prefer, and they are nicknamed the Sharks instead of the Blackbirds or the Pioneers respectively.
LIU went 16-14 this past season for their fourth .500 or better campaign in five seasons under the guidance of head coach Derek Kellogg. You can easily argue that 2021-22 was their best season with him as their head coach, as they went 12-6 in NEC action. That’s LIU’s best conference record since they went 13-5 in Jack Perri’s final season on the sidelines. It’s not a slam dunk that LIU fans think that, as Kellogg won the NEC tournament in 2018 after going 10-8 in league play, and that got them a First Four game in Dayton against Radford.
At a glance, Long Island has been a 200s-ish team in the KenPom.com rankings in each of the last eight seasons with a one time wobble into the 300s in 2014 and three straight top 200 years from 2011 through 2013. It’s probably not a coincidence that LIU made three straight NCAA tournaments in those seasons. With that in mind, T-Rank currently projects the Sharks at #293 heading into the 2022-23 season, and yeah, that’s not exactly what you’d like to see on Marquette’s non-conference schedule. Long Island projects as the worst of the four Palms Division teams with Sam Houston actually clocking in as a top 100 squad. We’ll file this under “not super great, but could definitely be worse, and Marquette probably didn’t have much of a say in the matter.”
T-Rank had LIU finishing last season at #245, and the reason why they project to drop backwards so notably is pretty obvious: The Sharks are losing their top three scorers. Ty Flowers (19.2 points/game) and Isaac Kante (12.0) were both grad students last season, while Eral Penn (17.1) was a redshirt senior. No one else on the team averaged over nine points a game, and only three guys averaged more than five points. It’s likely going to be rough sledding for them, at least in the early goings of the season. Maurice Commander, a 6-foot tall guard from Chicago, projects to be their best player after transferring in from UIC after one year with the Flames following a transfer from Chattanooga. He averaged 10.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 43% behind the arc for his hometown unit last season as they went 14-16 and 9-10 in the Horizon League, so he can clearly do some stuff. How much stuff for the Sharks? We’ll have to wait and see what happens in November.
Long Island coming to town gives us five known non-conference games on the board and two reported games. The known ones are:
- Fort Myers 1 and 2 vs some combo of Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, and Utah (11/21-11/23)
- Baylor (11/29)
- Wisconsin (TBD, but probably early December?)
- at Notre Dame (12/11, originally at MU this season, but the two year series was flipped)
The lone other reported game so far is the season opener against Radford. If you like seeing this in a visual representation:
I didn’t mark the home game against Wisconsin there, because it’s not actually committed to a date yet. For a long time, the game could reliably be played on the first Saturday of December, but it’s bounced around a little bit in the past few years. There’s definitely a spot in MU’s schedule for it, though.
As far as other games to expect on the calendar, there’s the possibility/likely Gavitt Tipoff Game, which would come in that first week of the season. There’s space on the calendar for as many as four more non-conference games at that point, all of which would probably be buy games one way or another. It all depends on the availability of possible opponents as well as open dates on the Fiserv Forum schedule.