It’s always in the back of your mind that you want your non-conference opponents to win all of their games other than the one they play against you. That way, you look great for beating a great team, or on the off chance that you lose a non-conference game, then you lost to a great team. It doesn’t always work out that way, in fact it essentially never does, but the hope continues to live.
It’s that hope that has us turning to Marquette’s non-conference schedule at this point of the year to keep tabs on what MU’s opponents are up to. After all, the Golden Eagles appear to be pointed directly at the NCAA tournament right now. If that’s the case, then wins by all of MU’s non-Big East foes are going to be helpful to Marquette in one fashion or another.
That’s what we’re doing here: Letting you know when they’re all playing this week so you can tune in, or at the very least scoreboard watch. Why aren’t we paying attention to the Big East teams here? First, that’s what the What To Watch is for, and second, all the Big East teams playing each other is ultimately a zero-sum game for Marquette’s NET rating. If one conference team wins, the other one loses, so that’s not particularly helpful to MU, now is it?
If you’re curious about what results outside of MU’s non-conference opponents are the most beneficial to the Golden Eagles, may I point you towards BartTorvik.com and T-Rank’s Rooting Guide? That’s only going to be showing you things two or three days ahead, but it’s giving you the opponents of opponents of opponents benefits to Marquette.
We’ll start doing this weekly going forward, so here’s what it looks like for the rest of this week. We’ll go in order of the NET ratings as of Monday morning....
Purdue Boilermakers (23-3, #4)
Thursday, February 16: at Maryland (17-8, #28), 5:30pm Central, Big Ten Network
Sunday, February 19: vs Ohio State (11-14, #54), 12pm Central, CBS
Yes, Purdue suffered their third loss of the season and second in three games on Sunday afternoon. Their NET has gone from #3 to #4 in that stretch and in fact did not move at all as a result of losing on the road to Northwestern. The Boilermakers have a two game lead in the loss column over three teams in the Big Ten right now (including the two teams that they lost to recently) so these two games this week are pretty big ones for their quest for a conference title. Maryland is a Quadrant 1 game for them, while Ohio State, even with their struggles, is still a Q2 game at Mackey Arena.
Baylor Bears (19-6, #11)
Monday, February 13: vs West Virginia (15-10, #25), 8pm Central, ESPN
Saturday, February 18: at Kansas (20-5, #8), 3pm Central, ESPN
Hey, remember when people starting asking what was wrong with Baylor when they started out Big 12 play 0-3? Yeah, they’re fine, the Big 12 is just a meat grinder, the Bears have won eight of their last nine and are right there with Texas and Kansas towards the top of the standings. Both of these games this week are Quadrant 1 contests, although WVU is a little shaky at #25 when the home cutoff is #30. Saturday’s game is of course a monster one at Allen Fieldhouse.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (17-8, #41)
Wednesday, February 15: vs Kentucky (16-9, #46), 7:30pm Central, SEC Network
Saturday, February 18: at Mississippi (10-15, #126), 2:30pm Central, SEC Network
The Bulldogs are on a five game winning streak right now, so that’s awesome for Marquette’s purposes. Their NET has moved from #59 to juuuuuust outside the top 40, and that’s a huge boost for MU’s profile. MSU needs wins to get themselves back in the good graces of the NCAA selection committee, and man, facing a scuffling Kentucky team at home is definitely a good place to get a win. They definitely need to get the Egg Bowl victory this weekend if nothing else, and believe it or not, both of these games are Quadrant 2 contests for Mississippi State right now.
Yep, no Quadrant 2 opponents on the schedule this week, at least at the start of the week because......
Wisconsin Badgers (14-10, #80)
Tuesday, February 14: vs Michigan (14-11, #66), 8pm Central, ESPN2
Saturday, February 18: vs Rutgers (16-9, #21), 11am Central, Big Ten Network
.... the Badgers lost in overtime to Nebraska on Saturday and are now #80 in the NET when the cutoff for home games in Quadrant 2 is #75. There is a very real chance that this is the worst Bucky team that Greg Gard has coached in his time in the big chair, and if that ends up being the case, it’s the worst Wisconsin team this century. They have two home games this week, but at this point with this team, neither of these two games are anything close to gimmes just because they’re in the Kohl Center. Michigan is Quadrant 2 right now, while Rutgers is nine spots inside the Quadrant 1 cutline.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-15, #201)
Tuesday, February 14: at Duke (17-8, #31), 6pm Central, ESPN
Saturday, February 18: at Virginia (19-4, #14), 11am Central, ESPN Family
Yes, thanks to the home/road differential system that the NCAA has, a game against #80 and a game against #201 are both Quadrant 3 games for Marquette. Thankfully, MU beat the Irish so this doesn’t make two Q3 losses. Wisconsin is merely having an off year, Notre Dame is actively bad. Their only wins in 2023 are over the only two teams behind them in the ACC standings, and given that’s 1) Georgia Tech, a team also dragging down MU’s profile and 2) literally the worst Louisville team ever, that’s not a good thing. They have a pair of Quadrant 1 games in front of them this week, but I doubt that merely paying them will help push ND’s NET in a positive direction.
Radford Highlanders (17-10, #162)
Thursday, February 16: vs UNC Asheville (20-7, #159), 6pm Central, ESPNU
Saturday, February 18: at Longwood (18-9, #154), 2pm Central, ESPN+
Oh, no, our precious Highlanders have fallen below the Q3 cutoff of #160! That’s what taking a home loss to Gardner Webb will do to you. As a result, they’re one game back in the Big South standings right now... but would you look at this, their next game is a home game against the team in first place. And after that, they visit the team in third place right behind Radford. Big week for the Highlanders in the standings, and with a pair of Quadrant 3 contests, too.
North Carolina Central Eagles (11-11, #211)
Monday, February 13: vs Coppin State (6-19, #335), 6:30pm Central, NCCUSN
Saturday, February 18: at Delaware State (5-18, #347), 3pm Central
NCCU snapped a losing streak on Saturday to move to 4-4 in the MEAC. They’re playing two of the four teams behind them this week, so it’s a good time to get back on the side of the angels in terms of wins. They’re both Quadrant 4 games for them, so it would be neat if our fellow Eagle friends could stack up these W’s.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-16, #218)
Wednesday, February 15: vs Virginia Tech (15-10, #56), 6pm Central, ACC Network
Saturday, February 18: vs Florida Tech, 1pm Central, ESPN+
Yes, Georgia Tech is going to take time off from stinking up the ACC and MU’s non-conference schedule to play a non-Division 1 team on Saturday. Fun. Their VaTech game earlier in the week is a Quadrant 2 game, so maybe they’ll wander in the general direction of #200 as a result of merely playing the game. Probably not, though.
Chicago State Cougars (9-18, #284)
Friday, February 17: vs Calumet, 7pm Central, FloSports
Sunday, February 19: vs Hartford (5-20, #363), FloSports
Yes, I just banged on Georgia Tech for playing a non-D1 game, and yes, Chicago State is going to be playing their fourth non-D1 game of the season this week and their second straight non-D1 game, and no, I am not going say anything mean about them. They’re an independent, not a Major Six conference member. Do whatever you need to do to get games, my dudes. By the way, CSU is 6-4 in their last 10 and 4-1 in their last five. Good for them! It would be neat if they could beat “we’re leaving D1” Hartford for the second team this season, and they did win the first meeting on the road earlier this year.
Central Michigan Chippewas (9-16, #314)
Tuesday, February 14: at Bowling Green (10-15, #272), 6pm Central, ESPN+
Saturday, February 18: vs Ohio (14-11, #145), 1pm Central, ESPN3
CMU picked up a win on Saturday to snap a three game skid and nudge their NET back towards #300. That’s all I’m asking for here. Bowling Green is a Quadrant 4 game for them, while Ohio is Q3. Two wins is probably asking a lot here, but then again remember when the Chippewas beat Michigan in Ann Arbor in December?
LIU Sharks (, #362)
Thursday, February 16: at Stonehill (13-15, #305), 6pm Central, NEC Front Row
Saturday, February 18: vs St. Francis (PA) (9-16, #340), 12pm Central, NEC Front Row
Congrats to Long Island, they are no longer the worst team in Division 1. That’s Hartford. LIU is now merely the second worst team in Division 1. They have a pair of Quadrant 4 games on deck for them, and while Stonehill is tied for the NEC lead at the moment, St. Francis at home seems like a much more winnable game for the Sharks. Fingers crossed?