Just in case you were not planning on reading further, I decided to write about my own thoughts before I share anyone else's. I did, surprisingly, all but predict MU's miraculous victory over Connecticut last season (see Playing with House Money in our archives). Readers beware: I also thought Marquette would go 16-11 at the onset of 2005-6, so take these with a grain of salt.
I admit, I am a Marquette apologist. When my voicemail box is filled up with messages after our games with people asking, "Why did we lose?" or "They won but why did they look so (expletive deleted)," I usually defend my guys. However, the North Dakota State loss earlier this year really made me cringe. I deflected all commentary on the loss until the Wisconsin game citing, "Let's see if we can erase this loss against the Badgers." We know what happened there.
To me, Marquette really needs to make shots to win games. Gee, thanks John Madden. Seriously though, if Marquette cannot find a consistent shooter, someone who can become half of a Joe Chapman, or an eighth of a Steve Novak, the Big East season could be a bumpy ride. As I look up and down the bench, I am not worried about out depth inside, as most were before the season started. The emergence of college basketball's most productive ninth man in Trend Blackledge, combined with the steady play of Dwight Burke and consistent improvement from Ousmane Barro should provide Marquette with enough muscle to compete with the Bigs in the Beast. When it comes to winning 9, 10, 11 or even 12 games in Big East play, however, Marquette will only go as far as their guards can take them. So let's take care of that ball a little better, hit some more of our free throws, and can an important "3" or two and get this thing rollin'. Our losses come at Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, and DePaul with home slip-ups against Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Gimme 23-8 (10-6) any year of my life.
We will start with the predictions of our moderator, John Dodds. Some would consider the crafty veteran to look at the world through blue and gold tinted glasses, but as Lee Corso said, "Not so fast my friends." Doddsy, too, has had his brilliant and dull moments in predicting games. Halfway through the Big East season last year, he told me that he thought we would lose in the first round just like the young 2002 team did. Minutes before the Wisconsin game this season, he told me that he had a queasy feeling in his stomach, the kind of feeling you can only get from playing a team whose coach, for lack of a better comparison, is a Badger. Perhaps his greatest moment as a prognosticator came during Novak's sophomore year, when he boldly said Novak was a shoe-in to be drafted. I can only take credit away from Doddsy for telling me, during halftime of the Cincinnati game last year, that the 2005-6 team reminded him of 2003 again. Seconds later, Eric Hicks blocked his 37th shot of the game and Cincy spoiled the party. JD's losses come at Connecticut, Pittsburgh, SOUTH FLORIDA, Georgetown, DePaul, and Notre Dame with an emotional home loss to Pittsburgh. John Dodds predicts 22-9 (9-7).
Let's move from the veteran to the rook, the freshmen phenom—Marquettehoops Student Writer Jeff Wolf. At this point last year, Jeff was wondering which of little lady at Maine West High School would be asking him to the annual Turnabout Dance. Now a student at Marquette, Jeff has become the youngest student writer in our website's history and also contributes to Marquette Student Radio. He is the future of our student writing team and his predictions have been carefully crafted. Jeff is stepping out of the pack and calling a home loss to Villanova, while predicting home victories over Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Other losses include road tilts at UConn, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, DePaul, and the Ville. Jeff matches me at 23-8 with a 10-6 record in conference, but as stated, has that surprise loss against the ‘Cats at home.
Though he is a senior, Pat Barry is also rookie on our staff. Pat is no amateur to Marquette basketball though, as he and I made the trek to St. Louis two years ago to watch what might have been the worst college basketball game every played, had Marquette not beaten the Billikens in double overtime. Pat is a true road warrior, dropping 500 bones on airfare to see our Golden Eagles in San Diego last year and rest his head amongst five other fans in a McCormick-sized-hellacious-nightmare-of-a-hotel room. Nevertheless, Mr. Barry is known by some at Marquette as the most "logical" man on campus and he thinks Marquette can go 12-4! Pat's full analysis is available on our premium boards, but he sees losses to the Huskies, Cardinals, Hoyas, and Panthers, with a perfect home record. 25-6 (12-4).
Our Renaissance man, Andrew Phillips, certainly has some credibility. Besides logging over 800 posts on the board, Mr. Phillips could tell you who the seventh best player is on Maryland-Baltimore County's team is, a talent only reserved for our game preview master. Andrew also is the president of the Marquette band and has had front section seats for the past four years. Andrew thinks we will fall short in the rivalry games this year, losing what he calls, "clunkers" at Notre Dame and DePaul. Despite predicting a perfect 8-0 record at home, Andrew also thinks Marquette will drop games at Louisville and Pittsburgh, with an early CLUCKER at Providence. All in all, he is taking a solid stance at 24-7 with an 11-5 record in conference.
Three year veteran and senior Eric Titze knows his Marquette and college basketball. During his most boring of classes last semester, Eric could be seen drawing all 16 Big East logos in his notebook and putting them on his refrigerator like a toddler's trophy. Eric has also studied the RPI system and used Microsoft programming to create his own RPI calculator instead of forking over the 39.95 or stealing my password. Above all, Eric has created a NCAA referee database that is currently tracking officials' records in every Marquette game that they referee. (He wants to be the one that discovers that all sports are "fixed.") Nevertheless, he has a ton of respect for that budding Pitt rivalry, predicting a couple losses to the Panthers, as well as Connecticut, Louisville, and Georgetown. 7-1 at home with an 11-5 record is not too shabby, 24-7 overall.
Last but not least, the man who they say has more contacts than Bausch and Laumb, Jim "IWB" Ganzer thinks Marquette will win 10 games in the Big East. Be careful with these picks though folks. When I called IWB fully ready to "jump" after the NDSU game, he told me, and I quote, "It was just poor shooting, we will get the Badgers." He also gave me his camera in Kansas City and told me to take a picture of Coach Bobby Knight in the pressroom. What do you think happened to me when his camera made a loud clicking noise as Knight was talking? Exactly. IDub doesn't like the Villanova or Pittsburgh games at home, and predicts a 4-4 finish on the road with losses at UConn, Louisville, Pitt, and Georgetown.
12-4 (Pat Barry)
11-5 (Eric Titze and Andrew Phillips)
10-6 (Andrew Sharos, Jeff Wolf and IWB)
9-7 John Dodds
So this is my challenge to our staff members. Correctly predicted home games are worth one point while road games are worth 1.5 points. When the smoke clears, who will still be standing? How do your predictions stack up? Let the debates begin!