Marquette men’s basketball is set to go for the 2023-24 season.
Well, at least the non-conference schedule is.
On Thursday, the team officially announced the full non-conference schedule for the upcoming season. It’s not much of an announcement, to be honest, as there are just four games that weren’t officially known and announced already, and two of those were leaked out by reporting last week. Still, the schedule is officially set, at least until the Big East announces the league slate and television assignments in September.
The full schedule as it stands right now:
Monday, November 6: vs Northern Illinois
Friday, November 10: vs Rider
Tuesday, November 14: at Illinois
Monday, November 20: Maui Invitational Game #1
Tuesday, November 21: Maui Invitational Game #2
Wednesday, November 22: Maui Invitational Game #3
Saturday, December 9: vs Notre Dame
Thursday, December 14: vs St. Thomas
The team also announced that there will not be an exhibition game again this year, instead opting to play two closed door scrimmages against Division 1 opponents. That’s what the Golden Eagles did last season, and that worked out pretty well. Mix in a little bit of extra practice from the upcoming trip to Italy in August, and it’s not like the Golden Eagles are going to need that relatively low risk exhibition environment to figure out how they operate the best.
As mentioned, two of the games listed above are brand new information to us, so let’s dig in to what they present to Marquette.
Northern Illinois Huskies
2022-23 Record: 13-19, 9-9 MAC
Postseason: Lost to Kent State in their first MAC tournament game
Final KenPom.com Ranking: #250
2023-24 T-Rank Projection: #218
Head Coach: Rashon Burno, entering his third season at NIU and as a Division 1 head coach.
All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 7-2, with four straight wins
There are worse ways to start your season than scheduling a team that projects to finish in the middle of the pack of a perfectly respectable basketball conference. That’s what Marquette gets with Northern Illinois with the Huskies coming off a nice second season for head coach Rashon Burno. His first season was a slog as they went just 6-14 in MAC play, but they went 9-9 in 2023 and they’ll be looking to improve on that next season.
NIU is projected to return their top three scorers from last season, led by 17.9 points per game from Keshawn Williams. David Colt (15.5) and Zarique Nutter (12.5) both cleared double digits in points on average in 2022-23, so that’s three pretty set roles. They will have to replace leading rebounder Anthony Crump (5.1 per game), but Nutter and Williams were just barely under five per night, so they have something to build on. Kaleb Thornton is going to be their biggest loss, as the 6-foot point guard was #17 in the country last season in assist rate, and he’s elected to take his business across the league to Akron for 2023-24.
Southern University Jaguars
2022-23 Record: 15-17, 11-7 SWAC
Postseason: Lost to Alabama A&M in their first SWAC tournament game
Final KenPom.com Ranking: #280
2023-24 T-Rank Projection: #317
Head Coach: Sean Woods, entering his sixth season at Southern and 15th as a Division 1 head coach
All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 2-0
Southern falls into that general SWAC problem where their overall record might not be so great but they’re a pretty competitive team in the league. They’ve been over .500 in SWAC play in each of the last four seasons under the direction of Woods even though they’ve been under .500 overall in two of them as a result of taking a bunch of buy game beatdowns before league play starts. Still, they’ve been somewhere between 280 and 215 in the KenPom.com rankings at the end of three of the last four campaigns, so there are definitely worse games to schedule as your first game back on the horse after wrapping up your trip to Maui.
There are three trends that pop out at me when I glance at Southern’s history page on KenPom. First, after two slow years to start his time in Baton Rouge, Woods has his Jaguars playing as one of the faster teams in the country. Second, Southern generally speaking struggles on the offensive side of the ball as they don’t shoot it very well and they turn it over a bit too much. Third, part of the reason why they’re playing at a fast pace is because they’re pairing their own offensive miscues with generating a ton of them on the other end, too. Southern has been top 15 in the country in defensive turnover rate in the past two seasons and their worst year in that department under Woods is #116. It’s a safe bet that they’re going to be coming after Marquette’s potent offense.
T-Rank projects that Southern is going to be relying on a pair of transfers to get things done next season. Brandon Davis, a 6’1” senior, looks like he’s going to be SU’s best player, after averaging 5.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game for Texas State last season. Interestingly, Marquette miiiiiight already have film on him, as he was at Loyola-New Orleans with Zach Wrightsil in 2021-22. Derrick Tezeno, a 6’5” junior, comes over after two years at Stephen F. Austin, and he averaged 4.5 points and 2.9 rebounds for the Lumberjacks last season.