The Marquette Golden Eagles’ 2009-2010 Big East opponents were announced yesterday and from the looks of it, they fared well in the schedule.
While the timing of these games will make a huge difference as well as factors that occur throughout the course of the year, it’s never too early to make predictions about how the Warriors will do in the Big East next year.
Just as it was last year, the Golden Eagles will play DePaul twice this year in a home-and-home series. The Blue Demons enter the year without last year’s two leading scorers in Will Walker and Dar Tucker but will return will-be seniojunior Mac Koshwal.
The Golden Eagles won both of these matchups last year, including a 79-70 victory at the Bradley Center. Look for them to come out on top at home again this year.
Much like Marquette (and a lot of teams in the Big East next season), the Pitt Panthers will have a completely different look to them. Losing sophomore DeJuan Blair and seniors Sam Young and LeVance Fields will have a major impact on them, but McDonald’s All-American Dante Taylor (ranked 16th overall) heads a top-20 recruiting class that should ease the pain.
This one will be close in a battle of young teams, but I like Marquette at home.
This game became much more difficult when freshman Greg Monroe declared he would not enter the NBA Draft and would come back and play another year for the Hoyas.
They lose their leading scorer in DaJuan Summers as well as guard Jessie Sapp, but a second consecutive solid recruiting class has the Hoyas looking in good shape next year.
Led by Monroe, Chris Wright, and Austin Freeman, the Hoyas should earn a tournament bid this March.
Just like Georgetown, the Fighting Irish’s squad got a huge boost when Luke Harangody announced he would come back for another year. He has a chance to become ND’s all-time points leader, and with transfers Ben Hansbrough and Scott Martin, the Fighting Irish have a good shot at getting to the NCAA Tournament as well.
Losing Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers will hurt the Irish, but not enough for the Golden Eagles to take them down.
Rick Pitino loses Terrence Williams and Earl Clark next year but also brings in a top-25 recruiting class as well. Led by seniors Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa, Louisville has a chance to be a top 25 team to start the year.
Marquette has had a tough time with Lousiville in the past and this season should yield the same results. It will be closer than most expect, but Louisville should pull it out in the end.
Other than Marquette, no team will have as big a makeover next season than the Friars. With five impact seniors leaving, the Friars will have a tough time against a Marquette team with better incoming players.
With a comeback victory at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center last year, this year should should provide less fireworks as the Warriors roll.
On paper, this game looks like an easy win for the Golden Eagles, but sophomore guard Mike Rosario should make things quite interesting. Just 17.1 points per game leave the team and Rosario will have another year of experience under his belt.
Still, the Scarlet Knights were 3-10 (0-9) on the road last year, with wins over lowly Princeton, Rider, and Deleware. Rutgers will be better next year, but not good enough.
Coming off a Final Four appearance, Jay Wright’s squad loses a few players but brings in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes that includes power forward Mouphtaou Yarou and All-Americans Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns.
The Golden Eagles got unlucky drawing a home-and-home against the Big East’s pre-season favorite as this looks to be a huge test for the young Golden Eagles team.
The Bulls will bring in four new faces next year to replace the loss of Jesus Verdejo among others, but one player who will return is guard Dominique Jones. South Florida upset Marquette last year and he was a big reason why, scoring 15 points and adding five rebounds and four assists.
If this game was in Florida this year they might have had the upper hand, but the Bradley Center will be rocking and Marquette will look for revenge in this one.
Should the Bearcats’ decision to roll the dice on troubled but talented Lance Stephenson work out, they might just be a bubble team this year. With returning veteran Deonta Vaughn and youngster Yancy Gates, the three will form a very solid trio for a team that historically has been tough to beat at home.
As was stated earlier, the Friars put up an excellent battle last year before falling to the Golden Eagles 91-82 at home last year. This year, the Friars will look to rebuild just like the Golden Eagles but will be swept in their home-and-home games.
The Red Storm will have four new players in uniform next year when the Golden Eagles travel to Madison Square Garden. Anthony Mason Jr. is a big loss for the Red Storm, as he averaged 14 points per game last year as St. John’s most complete player.
Always tough to beat in NYC, I expect Marquette to step up in what will probably be a very important game in the Big East standings.
Losing Johnny Flynn, Paul Harris, Eric Devendorf, and Kristof Ongeneat will hurt the Orange considerably next year and I believe this is a game the Golden Eagles can steal.
It will be tough with senior Andy Rautins leading the way, but the Orange can lose focus in games and Marquette’s quick unit should be able to slice through Cuse’s zone in an upset and big win for the Warriors.
One of my favorite teams to watch the second half of the year was the West Virginia Mountaineers and they could be looking at a very special season this year.
Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, Darryl Bryant, and John Flowers will all have another year of experience with them and Da’Sean Butler will be leading the way in a big Mountaineers win.
Marquette’s toughest game of the year right now stands at Villanova on the road. Regardless of where the two teams play (The Pavilion or not), a repeat of last year might be in the cards for the young Golden Eagles team.
The Wildcats play their best ball at home and this game will be no different.
Last year’s game in Chicago resulted in a 76-61 win for the Golden Eagles and this year’s should be no different as the Golden Eagles pick up another road win. The All State Arena should be more than half gold as it was last year and the Marquette chants will silence the Blue Demons fans as well.
The Pirates will have one of the most experienced teams in the Big East next year, making it very hard for the Golden Eagles to pull out a victory. While the frontcourt play should improve for Marquette next year, Seton Hall will be too tough on the post in what looks to be a loss.
The Huskies also lose their Big Three in Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien, and A.J. Price, but have a whole lot more coming back than the Golden Eagles do. Stanley Robinson will finally get his time to shine and sophomore Kemba Walker is only getting better as the days pass.
Final Record In Conference: 9-9
Despite going 16 for 16 on the Second Round games, I went just six for eight on the Sweet 16 games and will look to rebound in the Elite Eight matchups today. The Elite Eight features four Big East teams, all the #1 seeds, as well as a pair of two and three seeds.
1. Connecticut vs. 3. Missouri
This game features two teams that are very different in style as the Missouri Tigers look to out-run the Huskies from UConn. I think Connecticut will be able to run with the fast-paced Tigers and also establish a presence inside on Leo Lyons and Demarre Carroll. As good as Missouri looked in their victory over Memphis, facing Hasheem Thabeet is going to be tougher than anything they have faced all year. J.T. Tiller must have a big game again against A.J. Price, as well as on the defensive end guarding the senior point guard who is averaging 21 points per game in the tournament. In the end, UConn will be too much for a Missouri team that got hot at the right time. UConn 78, Missouri 74
1. Pittsburgh vs. 3. Villanova
A battle of Big East foes awaits the East Regional Final and will put two teams together that are all too familiar with each other. Earlier in the year, Villanova defeated Pittsburgh at home and will look to do the same today. Villanova has used their depth extremely well while Pittsburgh has struggled. If they can not play better defense and slow things down on offense, Villanova will take this game. Villanova 82, Pitt 80