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Non-Conference Schedule Preview: Marquette

The Golden Eagles will face six power conference opponents before Big East play

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DePaul v Marquette Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The next college basketball season is now much closer to us than the last one thankfully. As it draws closer, teams have begun to release their non-conference schedules for the season. The Marquette Golden Eagles joined those teams last Thursday, announcing eleven games to played from November 7th through December 11th.

Shaka Smart will open his second season at Marquette against Radford on November 7 at Fiserv Forum. The Highlanders finished under .500 last season in their first year with Darris Nichols at the helm, but they finished with a winning record in the previous four seasons under Mike Jones (no, not that Mike Jones.) Although this marks the first ever meeting between Marquette and Radford, Shaka Smart has some history here. In 2018, his Texas team lost at home to the Highlanders, falling 62-59 and dropping out of the polls after just one week there.

Marquette’s second game of the year will take place against Central Michigan later that week. Due to a scheduling conflict with the Fiserv Forum, that game will take place on campus at the Al McGuire Center. The 3,700-seat venue will host a men’s basketball game for only the fifth time since it opened in 2003. Typically used as the men’s practice location, The Al hosted three NIT games for the Golden Eagles in 2013 and a regular season game against Alabama A&M in 2014. The November 10th matchup against Central Michigan will be a student-only game, with season tickets not including admission.

The Golden Eagles leave Wisconsin for the first time to visit Purdue for their Gavitt Games matchup. It’s the third time the two teams have met in the series, with the first two meetings taking place at Marquette. Purdue took the 2017 matchup, but the Golden Eagles got their revenge in 2019. The de facto rubber match of the series will take place at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers posted a 16-1 record there last season.

Marquette will have a short turnaround after that one, hosting LIU just two days later in another first-time matchup for the program. That game is part of the Rocket Mortgage Tip-Off, and the Golden Eagles will travel to Fort Meyers to take part in the event early the following week. They’ll open against Mississippi State the Monday before Thanksgiving and play either Georgia Tech or Utah that Wednesday. Marquette is 1-1 against Mississippi State, 4-2 against Georgia Tech, and 1-1 against Utah all-time.

After returning home for Thanksgiving, Marquette will host Chicago State on November 26th. It is the ninth meeting between the programs, with Marquette winning all of the previous eight games.

Marquette will open the Big East-Big 12 Battle against Baylor on Tuesday, November 29th. The Bears will present formidable opposition, as they’ve finished each of the last three seasons in the top five of the AP polls - including a National Championship in 2020-21. The Golden Eagles played them twice, splitting a home-and-home in 1998 and 1999. Smart is familiar with Baylor from his time in the Big 12, although he had just a 2-10 record against them at Texas. A win would be a huge boon for Marquette’s resume come March.

The Golden Eagles follow up a game against Baylor by playing in-state rival and last year’s Big Ten champ Wisconsin. The home team has won the previous four meetings in the series, including a dramatic last-second victory from Marquette over then-No. 4 Wisconsin in 2020. The Badgers are the third opponent on Marquette’s schedule to have made the Big Dance last year. If the Golden Eagles can finish this week with a win over Baylor or Wisconsin, that will be a success.

Marquette wraps up its home non-conference slate against North Carolina Central on Tuesday, December 6th. It is just the second ever meeting between the programs. Marquette won the first one in 2012.

The final game of Marquette’s non-conference schedule takes place in South Bend. The Golden Eagles will visit Notre Dame for the first time since 2012 when the Fighting Irish were in the Big East. Notre Dame made the NCAA Tournament last season, winning in dramatic fashion in the First Four.

With four NCAA Tournament opponents and six from power conferences, Marquette has a strong non-conference schedule. Shaka Smart will have his hands full but playing opponents like Baylor and Wisconsin at home where they were 13-3 last year helps Marquette’s chances.