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Ranking Marquette's nonconference matchups

Jeremy Schrank ranks the nonconference matchups that the Marquette Golden Eagles will have this coming season, including high-profile encounters with an in-state rival and two big time Big Ten foes.

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1. Wisconsin Badgers (December 6; Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Frank Kaminsky and the Wisconsin Badgers emerged as one of the best teams in the nation in a season that ended in a heart breaking loss to Kentucky in the Final Four. UW started the year 16-0 but did endure a tough stretch in mid-January losing five out of six games. The Badgers regrouped and Frank Kaminsky became unstoppable almost leading Wisconsin to its first championship appearance since 1941. The Badgers return Kaminsky and junior Sam Dekker, but this game is intriguing for one reason: the rivalry. This matchup is one of the best rivalries in college basketball and Marquette will try to avenge a 70-64 loss in Madison a year ago.

2. Michigan State Spartans (November 28; Orlando, Florida)

This matchup is not set in stone, but will commence if Marquette and Michigan State win their first round games of the Orlando Classic. If that happens, it sure would be an intriguing matchup. Sparty finished 29-9 last season and ended their season with a loss to the eventual National Champion, Connecticut. The Spartans lost some key members including Adreian Payne, Keith Appling and Gary Harris, but with Tom Izzo, Sparty is always a contender.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (November 18; Columbus, Ohio)

This could be the third Big Ten team the Golden Eagles face this year and MU will just be looking to put the ball in the hoop after an abysmal offensive performance against these Buckeyes in their matchup in Milwaukee last season. The Buckeyes have a solid recruiting class coming in, so Thad Matta will once again have talent to work with Aaron Craft departing.

4. Arizona State Sun Devils (December 16; Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

The Sun Devils were a bubble team last year and endured a tough, last-second defeat in the 7-10 matchup against Texas in the NCAA Tournament. ASU finished tied for third in the Pac-12 with a 10-8 record and will have their hands full trying to replace the scoring gap left by Jahii Carson.

5. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (November 27; Orlando, Florida)

This game is the opener for both teams in the Orlando Classic tournament over Thanksgiving. Tech had another tough year last season once again finishing near the bottom of the ACC. Tennessee transfer Trae Golden led the Yellow Jackets in scoring from the point guard position and although they only had one victory versus a ranked team all season, it came in the Carrier Dome against highly ranked Syracuse.

6. Nebraska Omaha Mavericks (November 22; Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

The Mavericks were 19th in the nation in scoring last season averaging just over 80 points per contest. However, they really struggled on the glass leading to a 5-9 finish in the Summit League. They were able to snag a win against North Dakota in the CIT to secure a postseason victory.

7. North Dakota (December 22; Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

The team Omaha beat in the CIT the Golden Eagles will meet a few days before Christmas. UND was 12-8 in the Big Sky and finished with a 17-17 record. A Milwaukee native Troy Huff led North Dakota with 19.2 points per game as a senior last season, but he along with the next five leading scorers are all gone.

8. Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks (November 14; Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

The Skyhawks may have had the worst season of any of these teams, but they play in a pretty challenging Ohio Valley Conference. They finished 8-23 and 3-13 in conference, but they return their two leading scorers and are battle tested as they often play major conference teams early in their season.

9. NJIT Highlanders (November 24; Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

The Highlanders are Division 1 Independents and will be the final test for Marquette for it heads down to Florida to take on Georgia Tech in Orlando, so I would expect a focused Golden Eagle squad looking for a comfortable victory before they get ready for some tough competition in the Sunshine state.

10. Morgan State Bears (December 28; Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Morgan State really struggled in the non-conference last season, and with this game coming after Christmas, Marquette should have all of the kinks worked out and be ready for conference play. And well, that doesn't bode well for the Bears.

11. Alabama A&M Bulldogs (December 19; Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

As uninteresting as this game looks on paper, it may be the most interesting of all of them. The Golden Eagles will play this game at the Al McGuire Center in the heart of the Marquette campus. This will be the first regular season matchup ever at the Al, so I'd expect a sold out arena, especially since it holds about 15,000 less people than the BMO Harris Bradley Center.