A look at Marquette’s best nonconference games in 2014-15
Ohio State, Nov. 18
After its season opener against Tennessee-Martin, Marquette receives its first test of the season in its second game of the year. The Golden Eagles will visit Columbus after the Buckeyes won a defensive struggle, 52-35, in Milwaukee last season. Despite losing its top three leading scorers -- Aaron Craft, LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. – from last season, Ohio State, coached by Thad Matta (above), is ranked No. 20 in both preseason polls. Six-foot-nine transfer Anthony Lee, who averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds at Temple last season, should play a major role immediately. Shannon Scott has flashed his potential, while Sam Thompson, Amir Williams and Trey McDonald are experienced seniors. The Buckeyes may not be as star-studded as they usually are, but this will be a tremendous road challenge for Marquette.
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY SportsThomas J. Russo
Georgia Tech, Nov. 27
The Orlando Classic has a loaded field, but Marquette opens the tournament Thanksgiving night against a Georgia Tech program expected to finish near the bottom of the ACC yet again. Brian Gregory is 16-36 in conference games during his three seasons as head coach, while the Yellow Jackets haven't had a winning season in ACC play since Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum helped lead Tech to the NCAA championship game in 2003-04. Only four scholarship players on this year's Tech team played a minute for Yellow Jackets last season, as Gregory added five transfers and three freshman. 6-foot-5 junior Marcus Georges-Hunt (above) is Tech's best player, as he averaged 11.7 points per game last season.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY SportsMatt Cashore
Michigan State, Nov. 28
A victory over Georgia Tech in the Orlando Classic would likely set up a meeting with preseason No. 18 Michigan State on Nov. 28, while a loss would probably mean facing a Rider team expected to finish at the bottom of the MAAC. Obviously, the Golden Eagles would get much more out of facing the Spartans. Although Michigan State lost Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Adreian Payne from last year's Elite Eight team, the program coached by Tom Izzo (above right) is always strong. Senior wing Branden Dawson (above left) is one of the top returning players in the Big Ten and is coming off a strong postseason. Denzel Valentine can create matchup problems for teams, while Travis Trice is capable of lighting it up from beyond the arc. Cleveland State transfer Bryn Forbes will help replace Appling and Harris.
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY SportsAdam Hunger
Kansas/Rhode Island/Tennessee, Nov. 30
Marquette will either face Kansas, Rhode Island, Tennessee or Santa Clara in its final game of the Orlando Classic. Ranked No. 5 in both preseason polls, Kansas is loaded despite having two of the top three picks in the NBA Draft in Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. Freshmen Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre are likely one-and-dones, while sophomore Wayne Seldon is a projected lottery pick next year. Perry Ellis (above left) also returns as one of the nation's best big men. Rhode Island is expected to compete for the Atlantic 10 conference title and has hopes of making a return to the NCAA tournament under Dan Hurley. Tennessee lost four starters from a Sweet 16 team and is picked to finish 13th in the SEC with new coach Donnie Tyndall. The leading returning scorer is Josh Richardson (above right).
John Rieger/Rob FoldyJohn Rieger/Rob Foldy
Wisconsin, Dec. 6
The in-state rivalry returns to the BMO Harris Bradley Center for an early-morning tipoff. Wisconsin could be the third Big Ten team Marquette faces in non-conference play. The Badgers, coming off a trip to the Final Four, are loaded. Guard Ben Brust is Wisconsin's only loss from last year's 30-win team, as Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky (above left and right, respectively) return as two of the top players in the nation. These two schools usually play close games, but Marquette will have its hands full with the preseason No. 3 team. This is the last game Luke Fischer has to sit out. The Golden Eagles could use him against the Badgers, as Marquette will attempt to slow Kaminsky, Dekker and Nigel Hayes with just one player over 6-foot-6.
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY SportsMary Langenfeld
Arizona State, Dec. 16
Herb Sendek's Sun Devils returned to the NCAA tournament in 2014 but fell on a buzzer beater to Texas on the BMO Harris Bradley Center floor. Arizona State will return to Milwaukee a much different looking team this season. Last year's big three of Jahii Carson, Jermaine Marshall and Jordan Bachynski are gone, leaving Sendek to go the junior college route in hopes of quickly reloading. Part of the reason Sendek went for a quick fix is the potential pressure on him if the Sun Devils have a middling season. Arizona State did get a boost when the NCAA granted Shaquielle McKissic (above left with Jonathan Gilling) an extra year of eligibility. Like Marquette, Arizona State has plenty of questions coming into 2014-15. This meeting with the Sun Devils will be Luke Fischer's debut with Marquette.