Jeff Wolf: 18-12 overall, 9-9 Big East (T-9th)
Lazar Hayward will be a first-team All-Big East performer, thanks largely to help from his friends Jimmy Butler and Big East All-Freshman selection Jeronne Maymon, whose scoring efforts make it impossible for opponents to double-team him. Dwight Buycks will also be a double-digit scorer. This team will be able to put up big offensive numbers, but the defense will take some time to catch up. Inexperience will rear its head in the form of a 4-9 record away from the Bradley Center, including rough losses at rivals Wisconsin and DePaul. But the Golden Eagles will take home tilts against Georgetown and Notre Dame and a neutral-court win over Xavier. Buzz Williams, in a fit of sideline animation, will hurdle a kneeling Maurice Acker near the press table during a home loss to Pittsburgh. MU will peak at the end, winning 6 of 9, and find itself on the bubble come tournament time. But without any real marquee wins, they'll have to put on a show in the Garden to make the field of 65.
Nick Chmurski: 18-12 overall, 9-9 Big East (10th)
Everyone will be looking for Lazar Hayward to will this team to victory. However, as I see it, the fate of the 2009-10 season rests on contributions from the guards. Maurice Acker will have to play major minutes and newcomers Dwight Buycks and Darius Johnson-Odom will have to make an impact as well. Can David Cubillan return to form and become a threat? If so, the Golden Eagles might surprise some people. Backcourt questions aside, MU is loaded at the wing. Look for Jimmy Butler to become more of a scorer and for freshmen Jeronne Maymon, who is built for Big East play, to see big minutes as well. Chris Otule will also be much-improved. After a brutal two-game stretch to open conference play, Marquette scraps out a big win at home over a much-improved Georgetown squad. Buzz's bunch also wraps up the regular season winning a nail-biter over Notre Dame. If Marquette makes the NCAA Tournament, Buzz Williams should be Coach of the Year. A more realistic expectation is an NIT birth, but I see this team only getting better down the stretch. There will definitely be moments of frustration this season, but overall this team will be fast-paced and a lot of fun to watch grow.
Alex Jesswein: 18-12 overall, 8-10 Big East (T-9th)
This Marquette team may struggle more than in recent years, but that doesn't mean they won't make any noise this season. Lazar Hayward returns and should lead the team in scoring and rebounding, and I think we'll see a more athletic version of Hayward who will spend more time on the perimeter. Another player to watch is Milwaukee native Dwight Buycks, who will play point guard quite a bit while also serving as a solid scoring option. Buycks will lead the team in both assists and steals. Fellow newcomer Jeronne Maymon should provide some bulk in the paint despite his 6'6" frame. Jimmy Butler will see an expanded role this year and be the third-best scoring option behind Hayward and Maymon. Darius Johnson-Odom should get plenty of run in the backcourt this year and he may very well be our best guard. In the frontcourt, Chris Otule and Youssoupha Mbao will get a lot of playing time out of necessity and it will be interesting to see how they hold up through the rigors of the Big East season. I see two wins in the Old Spice Classic, as well as victories over Georgetown and Notre Dame. Losses come at the hands of Wisconsin, Xavier, Cincinnati, and the usual Big East frontrunners.
Mike Adleman: 17-13 overall, 7-11 Big East (11th)
The Golden Eagles should be successful through non-conference play, losing only to Xavier and Wisconsin. But after that they'll hit the wall known around college basketball as the Big East Conference and struggle immensely due to their lack of size and experience. Entering Big East play, Marquette will lose their first four games to some of the conference's top teams in West Virginia, Georgetown and Villanova (twice). They will rebound by sweeping both Providence and DePaul. And the Golden Eagles will end the regular season on a high note with a win at the Bradley Center over Notre Dame. Besides the obvious contributions from Lazar Hayward, Marquette will look to Maurice Acker and Jimmy Butler to show leadership and composure through a rebuilding year for Buzz Williams.
Mark Strotman: 17-13 overall, 9-9 Big East (9th)
A new era of Marquette basketball is upon us, and it's anyone's guess as to how Buzz's first true team will fare. Some early cakewalks will give this young team some confidence heading into the Old Spice Classic, where they go 1-2 against much better competition. The rest of the pre-season is more of a roller coaster, as Marquette beats UWM but loses two crucial games to North Carolina State and Wisconsin. The opening of the Big East is a big eye-opener to the rookies, as they get pummeled in their first four games, all against ranked opponents. But sweeps of DePaul and Providence and good wins over Pittsburgh, St. John's, and Seton Hall push Marquette past their expected finish of 12th in the Big East. Lazar finishes as a first team All-Big East performer and garners All-American votes as well. Jimmy Butler becomes a true threat on the outside, and Darius Johnson-Odom outperforms Dwight Buycks by season's end. However, Jeronne Maymon outplays both and is also honored as a first team all-freshman selection in the Big East. The tournament is too much to expect from such a young team. I see one win in the Big East Tournament, and a trip to the second round of the NIT.