Marquette Basketball: Showdown with Ohio State Will Be Litmus Test for Big East

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Marquette Basketball: Showdown with Ohio State Will Be Litmus Test for Big East
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Although we may be approaching just the second weekend of the college basketball regular season, most of the power conferences have seen their top schools tested on the national stage. 

On Saturday, the Big East will send its preseason pick to win the conference title into a heavyweight bout against Ohio State of the Big Ten at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. 

The Golden Eagles will have a slight home-court advantage, but the Buckeyes are a team that's no stranger to the national spotlight, especially after last season's extremely challenging Big Ten schedule. 

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
Marquette is 2-0 behind two blowout wins at home.

For the host team, it will have a chance to showcase just exactly what its new-look conference is all about. 

The Big East had a chance to shine on the first night of the season, but Georgetown failed to win against a depleted Oregon side that had suspended two key players just days before the clash in South Korea.

New kids on the block Xavier had a semi-impressive nonconference win at home against Tennessee on Tuesday night, but no one outside of Knoxville and Cincinnati paid any attention to that game given what was going on at the Champions Classic in Chicago. 

While a Saturday afternoon stage in the middle of college football season is not a prime location for a collision of two ranked teams, it is the platform the Big East needs to show what it's all about during the 2013-14 season. 

Besides Creighton's Doug McDermott, the players that sit on the Marquette roster like Davante Gardner, Chris Otule and Jamil Wilson are the student-athletes with the most potential to make waves on the national stage this season.  

The Golden Eagles have a good group of experienced players that has dabbles of youth mixed into the rotation that head coach Buzz Williams utilizes. 

Some will say that since the Golden Eagles are hosting the Buckeyes in a rematch of a cancelled game that was supposed to be played on the USS Yorktown in South Carolina last season before court condensation eliminated any hope of getting that game in, they will not be put in an uncomfortable environment.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Last season's game between Ohio State and Marquette failed to begin due to court condensation.

Let me tell you this: If any player in college basketball can put an opponent into an uncomfortable environment on its home court, it is Ohio State's Aaron Craft, who contrary to popular belief is still eligible to play in the collegiate ranks. 

Craft and Ohio State have been a pillar of success in the Big Ten for years, but so have Williams' Marquette teams, who have reached the Sweet 16 in the last three seasons. 

This is a perfect matchup for both the Big East and the Big Ten as both programs have been arguably the most consistent in their respective conferences over the last few years. 

Regular-Season Records over the Last Three Years
Ohio State Year Marquette
34-3 2010-11 22-15
31-8 2011-12 27-8
29-7 2012-13 26-9

records from gomarquette.com & ohiostatebuckeyes.com

While this may sound too early to talk about, Marquette needs this win to establish the fresh Big East and get a quality win for their NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament hopes.

With Georgetown not sure of what its identity is at the moment and Creighton relying solely on McDermott, the Golden Eagles undoubtedly have the most complete squad in the Big East. Yet they need to prove that on the nonconference landscape, and Saturday presents the perfect opportunity to do so. 

 

Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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