"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, September 20, 2010

A look inside the schedule

After taking the weekend to analyze the schedule for the upcoming season two items jump out:

1) MU has advantages on the road this year;
2) MU will finish strongly this season.

First, let's look at the road games.

  • MU has eight days to prepare for the season's first road game at Vanderbilt;
  • MU has five days to prepare for the road game at Louisville;
  • MU has one week to prepare for the trap road game at USF;
  • MU plays UConn off-campus on a weeknight.
To close-out the non-conference slate MU travels to the Music City to take on Vanderbilt, kicking off a stretch where they'll play four of six games on the road. Kudos to Coach Buzz for scheduling a legitimate opponent -- on the road -- as the final tune-up for BIG EAST play. In an ingenious bit of scheduling MU has eight days to prepare for this key road test, although Christmas will cost the team a couple of days on the court.

The Warriors open BIG EAST play at home with a Hangover Special, a 10am tip on New Year's Day against West Virginia. MU then hits the road for games at Rutgers and Pittsburgh before retuning home for the Big Monday showdown against the Whining Irish, followed by a trip to Louisville. MU has some good fortune in this stretch --- five days to prepare for Slick Rick's crew. That's an absolute gift. Meanwhile the Cards have just a couple of days to prepare for MU.

Following the Louisville tilt, MU plays three of the next four at home before hitting the road for three straight at Villanova, at USF, and at Georgetown. First up, MU draws the Wildcats on campus for the season's toughest roadie. Villanova is 72-26 all-time in BIG EAST action at The Pavilion. At least the Warriors then have a full week to prepare for the season's biggest trap game, the roadie at USF, before heading to Washington, D.C.

Now let's look at how MU closes the year.

MU should close the year in style with four of the final six games at home. St. John's appropriately joins MU for Al's Night followed by the Seton Hall Pirates a few days later.

Next Marquette hits the road at UConn but avoids Gampel Pavilion, where the Huskies are an astonishing 125-17 all-time. MU has the good fortune to draw the Huskies midweek in Hartford 40 minutes from the main UConn campus in a place their fans call the morgue. Providence and Cincy wrap up the home schedule before closing the season at Seton Hall.

All told, MU has an advantageous BIG EAST schedule, one that could enable the team to earn a handful of quality road wins and close the season playing its best basketball. Soon enough we'll make our predictions for the upcoming season but for now I'd set the over/under on Big East conference wins at 11.

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