Coming off a 19-13 season and the first NCAA tournament appearance under head coach Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette looks to build on last season's success behind such young players as Markus Howard and Sam Hauser. Several tough opponents stand in the Golden Eagles' way. FOX Sports Wisconsin lists what we feel are the 10 toughest.
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10. Georgia, Dec. 2 at home
The Bulldogs are coming off a season in which they went 19-15 and had to settle for the NIT. However, Georgia has some bigger frontcourt players which could present an issue for a Marquette team that won't have 6-foot-11, 250-pound transfer Harry Froling until later in the month. Senior Yante Maten (6-8, 240) is the best of Georgia's returning four starters, averaging 18.2 points and 6.8 rebounds last season. Junior Derek Ogbeide (6-8, 245) will be a challenge on the boards. Georgia has some taller guards -- three expected contributors are 6-4 -- but the loss of since-graduated J.J. Frazier is a big one.
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9. Creighton, Feb. 17 (road) and March 3 (home)
The Bluejays are coming off another NCAA tournament appearance after a 25-7 season but will have to replace guard Maurice Watson and center Justin Patton. Guard play will be key for this year's Creighton squad, with senior Marcus Foster (18.2 ppg) the big name. Syracuse transfer Kaleb Joseph coon be boon or bust. With frontcourt that isn't very deep, the Bluejays present a decent matchup for Marquette on paper, especially if Froling and junior Matt Heldt can establish themselves by mid-February as expected.
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8. Wisconsin, Dec. 9 (road)
Most years, the Badgers likely would be ranked higher on this list. But Wisconsin lost four starters and will be relying on a bevy of young players, with a number of freshmen expected to have to contribute. However, Wisconsin also has 6-10 junior Ethan Happ (14.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg), who will present a problem for the Froling-less Golden Eagles.
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7. Butler, Jan. 12 (road) and Jan. 31 (home)
The Bulldogs won 25 games in 2016-17 and made it to the Sweet 16, although expectations are a bit tempered for this season. New head coach LaVall Jordan takes over a team with an experienced backcourt, led by sophomore Kamar Baldwin (10.1 ppg, 59 steals). Centers Nate Fowler (6-10, 240) and Joey Brunk (6-11, 240) could cause Marquette some problems.
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6. Providence, Jan. 3 (road) and Feb. 3 (home)
The Friars won 20 games last season and return their top-seven in minutes played, which includes four double-digit scorers: forward Rodney Bullock (15.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg), forward Emmitt Holt (12.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg), guard Kyron Cartwright (11.4 ppg, 6.7 apg) and guard Jalen Lindsey (10.7 ppg). Providence also had a well-regarded recruiting class, considered top 20 in the nation.
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5. Seton Hall, Jan. 9 (home) and Feb. 7 (road)
Seton Hall returns not only senior center Angelo Delgado (15.2 ppg, 13.1 rpg), perhaps the best player in the Big East, but also senior starters forward Desi Rodriguez (15.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and guard Khadeen Carrington (17.1 ppg). Depth might be an issue for the Pirates, but their starting five will be tough to contend with for Marquette.
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4. Xavier, Dec. 27 (home) and Jan. 24 (road)
Swingman Trevon Bluiett (18.5 ppg. 5.7 rpg), who is emerging as one of the better players in college basketball, leads a largely experienced group coming off a 24-win season. If Xavier can get its frontcourt settled, the Musketeers will be a very dangerous team. Xavier hopes 6-10 Sean O'Mara's breakout in the NCAA tournament wasn't a fluke, but 6-10 grad transfer Kerem Kanter (11.3 ppg at UW-Green Bay) should help.
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3. Purdue, Nov. 14 (home)
The good news for Marquette is Big Ten player of the year Caleb Swanigan is no longer around. The bad news is pretty much everyone else is back from a Boilermakers team which went 27-8 last season. Purdue figures to cause the Golden Eagles (and other teams) problems with a strong frontcourt of 7-2 center Isaac Haas (12.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and 6-8 forward Vince Edwards (12.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 47 3s). Purdue's backcourt has plenty of experience as well with seniors Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson as well as sophomore Casen Edwards; the trio combining for 174 3-pointers in 2016-17.
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2. Villanova, Jan. 6 (road) and Jan. 28 (home)
Despite losing some key players from last season's 32-win team, the Wildcats are poised for another stellar year. With starters such as Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins gone, it is now the time for Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson to take over. Bridges, a 6-7 swingman, was a co-winner of the Big East's Defensive Player of the Year Award while averaging 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field. Villanova has a very talented and deep team with a lot expected of forwards Omari Spellman and Eric Paschall.
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1. Wichita State, Nov. 21 (neutral)
Let's put an asterisk with this one. The only way Marquette will play the Shockers is in the second round of the Maui Invitational. Many pundits have Wichita State as a predicted Final Four team. Now in the American Athletic Conference after years in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Shockers are coming off a 31-5 season and return six seniors -- which doesn't include arguably their two best players, forward Markis McDuffie (11.5 ppg, 5.7 rpb) and point guard Landy Shamet.