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Marquette won the first and only other meeting between both teams back on Nov. 21, 2013. The Golden Eagles held off the Wildcats for a 58-53 win.
KenPom lists Marquette as an 89% favorite to win, predicting a final score of 76-63.
What to Watch For
New Hampshire’s “real” season-opener
The Wildcats looked dominant against St. Joseph’s (Maine), but the Monks are only a Division III school. This will be New Hampshire’s first matchup against a Division I opponent, so this game will be a better indicator of how good the Wildcats really are.
While Marquette is still in the process of finding an identity and a groove under first-year coach Shaka Smart, plus plenty of new faces, the Golden Eagles will pose a much stiffer challenge, especially as New Hampshire comes to the Fiserv Forum.
Last season, New Hampshire went 10-9 overall and 9-6 in conference play. The Wildcats were bounced out of the America East quarterfinals by UMass-Lowell. While there’s the old adage where it’s difficult to beat a team three times in one season, that postseason meeting was actually the fourth showdown between both teams in the same month.
This year, New Hampshire is projected to finish third in the America East, per preseason coaches’ conference polls.
Although New Hampshire didn’t exactly challenge itself in its first game of the season, don’t expect the Wildcats to be complete pushovers. They have been steadily improving over the course of the last few years and this season’s team is expected to one of their best in recent years. They’ve come a long way since bottoming out as a five-win team in the 2018-19 season. Last year was their first time finishing above-.500 since 2017.
New Hampshire is looking to climb upwards and take the next step with its key returners and some new additions. The Wildcats retain their top five scorers from last season, and Josh Hopkins, who was one of their top perimeter threats before being limited to just five games due to injury.
Senior forward Jayden Martinez was a first-team all-conference selection last season and is one of the Wildcats’ most productive scorers and rebounders. He led the way against St. Joseph’s with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double and was an efficient 9-of-14 overall. 6-foot-5 two-way forward Nick Guadarrama is also back, after earning second-team all-conference honors last season. He led the Wildcats in scoring and finished a touch above Martinez, averaging a team-high 14.0 points as a junior last season.
Also keep an eye on Nick Johnson, who was last season’s America East Rookie of the Year. Classmate Blondeau Tchoukuiegno also impressed in his debut season at the collegiate level, earning a spot on the America East All-Rookie Team.
Qon Murphy, the team’s third-highest leading scorer last season at 8.6 points per game, has reprised his role as an athletic wing serving as a sparkplug off the bench. This team is much further ahead of Marquette when it comes to establishing chemistry and finding a rhythm with one another, but would that be enough to make up for the gap in talent?
SIU-Edwardsville was able to keep it close at times against Marquette, but in order to get the key breaks in the game and pull away, that started on the defensive end for the Golden Eagles. While 77 points might seem like a lot to give up to a team that ranked 319th in the country for offensive efficiency (according to KenPom) and averaged just 65.7 points per game during the 2020-21 season, there were some positive takeaways defensively, especially when the shots weren’t falling for Marquette.
The Golden Eagles were able to shut down SIU-Edwardsville from the perimeter in their season opener, holding them to just a 2-of-14 (14.3%) clip from long range. In addition to that, they also forced 24 turnovers, with the Cougars coughing up the ball on a staggering 29.0% of possessions.
Hopkins and transfer Sloan Seymour (Siena and George Washington) appear to be the Wildcats’ true perimeter threats, so as long as the Golden Eagles can key in on those guys, they’ll be able to funnel everything inside and focus on packing it in against New Hampshire. Outside of those two, the Wildcats don’t really shoot it well from deep.
The Golden Eagles will play at a much-higher pace than a Division III team could, so if they channel a similar defensive performance, it will be a long night for New Hampshire.
Offensively, it’ll be interesting to see how the younger players build off of the season-opening win. There aren’t too many seniors or veterans on this Marquette team, but Darryl Morsell appears to be living up to the high expectations early, leading the way statistically but also adding an upperclassman leadership component for a team that has a combined three players that are a redshirt junior or older.
Justin Lewis seems to be taking a promising step forward in his second season, putting together a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double the last time out. Freshman Stevie Mitchell also impressed in his first college game.