No exhibition game and a game at the McGuire Center are amongst the notable notes on this year’s slate for the Golden Eagles.
Hey! Marquette men’s basketball announced the full non-conference schedule on Thursday! Did you catch the announcement on the Twitter machine?
Mark your calendars, the 2022-23 Non-Conference schedule is here!
— Marquette Basketball (@MarquetteMBB) July 21, 2022
Let’s drop in a handy dandy chart for easy viewing and reading, shall we?
There are, by my count, three opponents on this schedule that we haven’t talked about/surface level previewed yet, and we’ll get to those in a minute. There are some notable news nuggets to go over first.
- There is no exhibition game scheduled this year. Head coach Shaka Smart has opted to give his team two closed door scrimmages against Division 1 competition instead. I for one like this move, as I don’t think there’s much value in renting out Fiserv Forum to hammer a relatively local Division 2 or Division 3 team by 58 points like they did with Bowie State last year. Maybe in certain situations, like last year where everyone was unfamiliar with each other and Smart, but not regularly.
- Not every home non-conference game will be at Fiserv Forum. The November 10th game against Central Michigan will be played at the Al McGuire Center on campus. For those of you that remember the Alabama A&M game back in the day and are surprised that Marquette is doing this again, this is where we point out that this game will be Students Only. This will do two things: 1) Give the athletic department something major to promote as a campus event, and 2) avoid the entire issue of selling the tickets as a separate event from the season ticket holder package.
- The Fort Myers Tip-Off has officially announced matchups for that event. Marquette will play Mississippi State on November 21, and that will lead to a second round game against either Utah or Georgia Tech on November 23rd. All games will be broadcast on FS1 with the MSU game scheduled for 7:30pm Central and the second game at either 5pm or 7:30pm.
Moving on to the three teams that haven’t received a once-over on these pages yet! We’ll go in schedule order, which means we start with the team that will be the opponent at the McGuire Center…..
Central Michigan Chippewas
2021-22 Record: 7-23, 6-12 MAC
Postseason: A one point loss to Toledo in the MAC tournament
Final KenPom.com Ranking: #318
2022-23 T-Rank Projection: #316
Head Coach: Tony Barbee, entering his second season at CMU after stops at UTEP and Auburn
Marquette is 1-0 all time against Central Michigan after an 81-67 victory in December 2008.
Last year was Tony Barbee’s first year guiding the Chippewas, and as you can see from the record, it did not go well. This can’t be that surprising, as neither of the past two seasons had gone well for them under Keno Davis, either. CMU has had just four winning seasons — all by Davis, by the way — since their last NCAA tournament appearance…. and that was back in 2003.
With that said, last year’s #318 KenPom ranking to end the season was a wild aberration for the program. The previous all-time worst ranking was #300, back in 2006, and that led to Jay Smith’s dismissal even with that NCAA appearance three years earlier. The Chippewas have generally been a consistent top 250 team in the KenPom era, including four top 200 finishes under Davis and two in the top 150. While they may project to be kind of lousy next year, that’s not the general expectation for this program.
They do return their leading scorer in Kevin Miller, a 6’0” guard from Chicago who averaged 13.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game and led the team in assists at 4.6 per game as a freshman, too. Brian Taylor, a 6’6” guard/forward, is the leading returning rebounder at 5.8 a night, but he’s also the only one in the top four on the rebounding chart coming back from last year’s squad.
It’s hard to take anything from a coach’s first season with a program as gospel in regards to what kind of system they’re going to run, especially since Barbee hasn’t been a head coach since 2014. However, we can see that Central Michigan liked to shoot threes last year (#118 in rate) and they were pretty good at it at 34% as a team to rank #145 in the country. They also let you shoot a bunch of threes, and they let you hit the open man for an assist pretty easily as well. This certainly sounds like a game where Tyler Kolek could be tearing it up in the helpers department if that defensive weakness shows up again in early November.
Chicago State Cougars
2021-22 Record: 7-25, 3-15 WAC
Postseason: A 22 point loss to Utah Valley in the WAC tournament
Final KenPom.com Ranking: #340
2022-23 T-Rank Projection: #309
Head Coach: Gerald Gillion, entering his second season at CSU and as a head coach
Marquette is 8-0 against Chicago State in a series that dates back to December 1989. The most recent meeting was November 29, 2017, which was a 95-69 win where Markus Howard broke the program record for made three-pointers in a game and the team broke the team record as well.
There is no other way to say this: Chicago State is bad basketball program and playing them is bad for Marquette’s NCAA tournament profile. To put a point on it: When CSU opened up last season 2-0, that gave them back-to-back wins over Division 1 competition for the first time since February 26 and February 28….. in 2015. When they beat Cal Baptist last season to move to 1-3 in WAC play, it was the Cougars’ first conference victory since ending the 2017-18 regular season with a win over Missouri-Kansas City.
Part of Chicago State’s problems are largely speaking completely independent from athletics. Go dig into their financial problems as a school via whatever search engine you prefer, and you’ll get the picture pretty quickly. It’s hard to have a functional basketball program when you aren’t 100% sure there’s going to be an actual university to sponsor said basketball program.
Jahsean Corbett is their leading returning scorer after the 6’6” Floridian finished third on the team at 12.4 per game last season. He’s also their leading returning rebounder, and 6.9 per game is usually good enough to lead a lot of teams. They do not return anyone who tallied more than 25 assists last season, so playmaking is potentially going to be a major challenge for the Cougars. They do add Elijah Weaver, a former top 50 prospect who spent two years at USC and two more at Dayton before making his way to Chicago for his bonus season of eligibility. With career averages of 6.0 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists, I think it’s safe to say that Weaver has never lived up to his recruiting hype, but perhaps that’s why he’s taking a fifth year of college to go out on a high note.
North Carolina Central Eagles
2021-22 Record: 16-15, 8-5 MEAC
Postseason: Advanced to the second round of the MEAC tournament before being knocked out
Final KenPom.com Ranking: #285
2022-23 T-Rank Projection: #287
Head Coach: LeVelle Moton, entering his 14th season at NC Central and as a head coach
Marquette is 1-0 all time against NC Central after a 75-66 win in December 2012.
I don’t know if LeVelle Moton is driven by a sense of duty or honor to be coaching at an HBCU like NC Central, but the fact of the matter is that he may be the best coach in America that never gets a look at a high major job. Is that because he wants to be at NC Central because of the history involved, or even just because he graduated from NC Central? I don’t know, but it’s really a crime that people aren’t knocking on his door or at the very least throwing his name into the ring for big jobs.
To that point, last year’s 8-5 mark in MEAC play was definitely a down year for Moton as it marked the first time that he had not recorded at least double digit league wins in consecutive seasons for the first time season the Eagles joined the MEAC after four years of independent status in 2011-12. It was, however, a nice bounce back year from a very weird 2020-21 campaign where they went just 3-5 in MEAC action and gave Moton his first losing season in conference play since 2016.
The Eagles will provide a strong test for Marquette in three departments if Moton’s history is any suggestion. They are going to crash the glass on offense, they are going to get to the line a ton, and they are going to force a metric ton of turnovers. More often than not, NC Central is a top 100 KenPom team in at least one of those categories, and it’s usually two or all three. The rebounding part is of particular concern, as Marquette was one of the worst teams on the glass in the entire country last season, no matter what end of the court we’re talking about.
Top scorer Justin Wright returns for the Eagles after chipping in 13.7 points a night last season. The 6’1” guard lit it up from long range a year ago, draining over 40% of his attempts… but he only made 59 attempts in the first place. Eric Boone is the #2 returning scorer after finishing in fourth place last year at 9.7 per game, but he earns the nod as the leading returning rebounder at 4.7 per game. Weirdly, the 6’2” Boone was one of the better passers in the country last year, ranking #180 in assist rate per KenPom.com and averaging a team high 3.7 assists.