In 2016, it was Fresno State. The Bulldogs finished #98 at kenpom & 76 in the RPI, just one spot away from qualifying as a Quadrant 2 home game. In 2017 it was Vermont. The Catamounts finished #76 at kenpom & 60 in the RPI, good enough to qualify as a Quadrant 2 win. This past year it was Buffalo. The Bulls finished #22 at kenpom & #15 in the NET, making them just one of two teams that played away buy games & qualified as a Quadrant 1A home win, which made Buffalo one of the best wins you could possibly buy...assuming you won (ask West Virginia & Syracuse about that).
Here's what we know about Marquette's 2019-20 schedule so far:
- Away vs Wisconsin-Madison
- Away vs Kansas State
- Neutral (x3) vs Davidson, Fairfield, Harvard, Maryland, Temple, Texas A&M (please, please, please), & USC
1. Utah State: Put flashing lights on this one. Utah State earned the Mountain West autobid but would've been an at-large last year without it. They return most of that roster, including MWC Player of the Year Sam Merrill & NBA prospect Neemias Queta. With most of Nevada's roster graduating, the Aggies will be heavy MWC favorites next year. While this might seem like a big target for a buy game, it's no bigger than Buffalo was & comes from the same league as Fresno State.
2. East Tennessee State: When #3bidSoCon was trending, it was Wofford, UNC-Greensboro, & Furman that Twitter was talking about. Next year, it will likely be the Buccaneers. While the three teams above lose their best players, ETSU could return their entire rotation from a squad that went 13-5 in a quality league. Barring transfers or a coaching change, this will be one of the best buy game options in the country next year.
3. New Mexico State: Chris Jans had a top-40 NET team in the WAC this year & will likely have 5 senior starters next year. They lose two rotation players but will still be experienced & deep. The Aggies won 19 straight before falling to future Final Four team Auburn by 1 point in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They should be even better next year.
4. Vermont: Next year's Vermont could be...Vermont. John Becker's team has won 20+ games 8 years running (11 if you count Mike Lonergan's last 3 years) & has finished top-100 at kenpom each of the last 3 years. They return 6 of their top 7 in terms of minutes from a NCAA team. More likely to be Quadrant 2 than 1, this will still be an excellent buy opponent.
5. Northeastern: They have to replace Vasa Pusica's scoring, but have 4 of their top-5 scorers back. The Huskies made the NCAA Tournament & should be favorites in the Colonial. They were just outside Quadrant 2 (NET #78) as a buy game last year but have a very good chance to improve on that next year.
Five More to Watch: Missouri State, UC Irvine, UT Arlington, Grand Canyon, Northern Kentucky