Over the course of the next 30 days, the Def Pen college basketball staff will preview the top 30 teams in the country. Each day will present a new team running all the way up to the start of the regular season. Follow along with us as we share our top 30 college basketball teams in 30 days.
The Marquette Golden Eagles are coming off a disappointing season where they finished .500 in Big East play, missed the NCAA tournament and lost in the NIT to Penn State. Some fans have wondered if MU will ever recapture the glory years of Al McGuire or even the success that Tom Crean and Buzz Williams fostered. Will another Jimmy Butler or Dwayne Wade walk through those doors again?
In Steve Wojciechowski’s sixth season as coach of the Marquette Golden Eagles, it signifies a time for optimism around the program. The Golden Eagles move from the Bradley Center to the state of the art Fiserv Forum. They’ll share the 17,000 seat arena with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks to offer a raucous college hoops environment that Big East opponents will have a tough time dealing with. With that environment, plus the return of marksman Markus Howard, Sam Hauser and an underrated crop of newcomers, look for Coach Wojo to have his best team in Milwaukee.
The offense certainly won’t be the issue with Marquette, as returns two of its top three scorers from last year in juniors Markus Howard (20.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.8 APG) and Sam Hauser (14.1 PPG, 5.7RPG, 2.9 APG). Howard made national headlines last year for his 52 point outburst against Providence. Sacar Anim is back as a veteran wing along with Theo John and Matt Heldt which will help the frontcourt.
Last night one man put up 52 points…
That man was @MarquetteMBB Markus Howard and he tied a Big East shooting record!
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 4, 2018
Marquette’s most notable loss will be senior Andrew Rowsey, who was the team’s leading scorer. Despite the loss of Rowsey, the offensive will be fine and the defense will have the chance to improve with players being in the program for a bit.
Wojo might have his most impactful class of newcomers on campus. Brendan Bailey, a former 4-star recruit will start his career at Marquette as a 21-year-old freshman after participating in a Mormon mission. Bailey stood out this offseason as he practiced with the Marquette based TBT team. He was constantly praised as an impact player that can shoot and rebound at a high level. Joey Hauser, the younger brother of junior Sam Hauser has been lauded as a better version of his brother but a few inches taller. Joey will benefit from being an early enrollee. Fordham transfer Joe Chartouny was one of the more sought after grad transfer prospects this offseason and is a perfect addition to help offset the loss of Andrew Rowsey. Ed Morrow, a transfer from Nebraska is eligible this season and will help add depth to a solid frontcourt. Chartouny was a two-time Atlantic 10 All-Academic Team member and voted as the league’s top newcomer in 2015-16. As a junior, he averaged 12.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game for the Rams. He was third on the squad in scoring in 2017-18 and topped the roster in minutes per game (35.9). He’ll be relied upon to be a floor general to facilitate the high octane offense. Marquette also landed Kobe McEwen from Utah State but will have to sit out due to transfer rules.
Projected Starting Five
The expectations are high for Marquette as they look to break through the Big East under Wojo and challenge Villanova, Xavier, and Providence. As mentioned, offensively Marquette will be a juggernaut and has superior depth. Scouting from this offseason has raved about the three-point shooting, but the issue with Marquette teams under Wojo has been defense. The Golden Eagles were ranked #295 in defensive efficiency with a dismal 1.078 rating. The defense ought to improve with the majority of the young team being in the Wojo’s system for at least a year. They have bona fide star power in Markus Howard but the additions of Chartouny and Bailey will push Marquette to be a top 3 Big East team. In addition to the daunting Big East schedule, Marquette will be playing in the Preseason NIT (Kansas, Tennessee, Louisville as potential opponents) and will play at Indiana, NCAA tourney darling UMBC at home, state rival Wisconsin and a very tough Kansas State team. Despite the strong national perception around Wojo, there is a faction of fans who are growing weary of the former Duke legend due to only going to one NCAA tournament in his tenure.
Record Prediction: 25-6 (15-4)
Marquette will finally turn the corner this season and could make it to the Sweet 16 with their talent. The tough early-season schedule and will help prepare them against a daunting but manageable Big East. Prediction is they will finish 2nd in the Big East regular season but won’t be able to get over the hump of dethroning defending national champ, Villanova. Wojo will be building momentum for the future and expect them in the second weekend of the Big Dance.