If you’re like me, and I presume a lot of you are, you are currently cheering for the best ranked Marquette men’s basketball team of your lifetime.
On Monday, the Associated Press released the preseason top 25 poll for men’s college basketball. Marquette turned up at #5 in the rankings, surpassing last year’s final ranking of #6 for the best ranking of any kind since the poll issued on March 6, 1978, when the team was ranked #3 in the country. It is Marquette’s best entry in the preseason poll since that same season when they were #3 in the first poll of the year as well.
Marquette snagged 1,283 points worth of votes, landing between #4 Michigan State with 1,346 points and #6 Connecticut with 1,243 points. Of note: MSU earned one first place vote, making MU the best ranked team in the country that did not receive a first place vote in the preseason poll. Continuing that note: UConn got two first place votes after winning last year’s national championship, but still ended up 40 points behind the Golden Eagles to start the season.
All of Marquette’s votes came between #2 and #10. Jeff Welsch and Mark Berman are the biggest stars of the voting process, as they’re the ones with MU at #2 in the country. Both men have Purdue at #1 in front of the Golden Eagles, which does set up our next talking point.
I think it’s worth it, for the time being, to separate our discussion about ranked teams on Marquette’s schedule to “Teams In Maui” and “Teams Not In Maui.” Why? Because five of the top 11 teams in the country are part of the Maui Invitational this year. Kansas is #1 with 46 first place votes, Purdue is #3 with three first place votes, Tennessee is #9, and Gonzaga is #11. Down in the Receiving Votes area is UCLA, Marquette’s first round opponent, coming in tied for the 28th most points in the polling at 47. Syracuse is the only Division 1 Maui team (shouts to Chaminade) not earning votes at all in the poll.
Elsewhere in the land of Ranked Teams On The Schedule, Creighton starts the year at #8, Villanova is #22, and Illinois, MU’s third opponent of the season, is #25 in the country with 104 points. Down in Receiving Votes Land, Wisconsin is unofficially #26 in the country with 53 points, St. John’s is the team in that tie with UCLA with 47 points, and Xavier rolls through with eight points for an unofficial ranking of #36.
Marquette starts the season on November 6th when they host Northern Illinois. Tipoff on that one is 7:30pm Central time at Fiserv Forum, and you’re going to need the Fox Sports app to stream the game if you want to watch the entire thing. FS1 will be doing Whiparound Coverage of all of the opening night games in the Big East.