Next week we'll change the format again, but that's next week. This is the last week for Big East teams to make an impact before they start round robin league play. It's probably a bad sign for the league overall that they currently have a .571 winning percentage in games that we've highlighted in the Big Five each week, right?
Last Week: 2-3
Friday, December 27: DePaul at Northwestern (8pm Central, Big Ten Network) - I'm probably playing with fire by including a DePaul road game for the second week in a row, particularly since the Blue Demons lost at Illinois State. Making this even worse is that Northwestern is arguably better than Illinois State. On the flip side, it is Northwestern, and it's barely even a road game. On the flip flip side, this is DePaul.
Saturday, December 28: #8 Villanova at #2 Syracuse (1pm Central, CBS) - The Orange continue their path of pretending they're still in the Big East by playing their second game against a Big East opponent this season. Neither team plays again until this one tips off, so it's guaranteed that someone will walk away with their first loss of the season.
Saturday, December 28: Seton Hall at St. John's (2pm Central) - I know what you're saying. "Hey, I thought the Big East schedule didn't actually start until New Year's Eve when all 10 teams play each other!" Absolutely correct. This is actually the first game on the women's basketball conference schedule. Let's be honest: with the start of the conference slate right around the corner, very few of the men's teams are scheduling a difficult game this weekend. The Pirates were picked to finish last the league, but went 8-2 in non-conference play, and they get their first test in Big East action against the 6-4 Red Storm, who were picked to finish third.
Saturday, December 28: Wake Forest at Xavier (4pm Central, Fox Sports 1) - This one is the yearly Skip Prosser Classic, played in memory of the departed coach who coached both squads at one point. It's a solid test for the Musketeers, although the Demon Deacons are 1-2 in games away from Joel Coliseum this season. Both teams played in the Battle 4 Atlantis, but didn't face each other in tournament play.
Saturday, December 28: Providence at #23 Massachusetts (5pm Central, ESPNU) - Ok, Providence, let's see what you've got. The Friars have dropped both of the games against the two best teams that they've played, Kentucky and Maryland. The Minutemen will be the best team they've played this season, and unlike the first two, this one will be a true road game. UMass is coming off their first loss of the season, and will undoubtedly have something to prove.