There are only 13 games on the schedule this week, and seven of them are on Saturday or Sunday. Finals Weeks have finally ravaged the schedule.
Luckily, we've got teams more than willing to challenge themselves in the non-conference scheduling department, so it was still pretty easy to pick out the five best games of the week. Hopefully we get a nice bounce back in the number of games for next week, the final full week of the non-conference schedule.
Last Week: 2-3
Tuesday, December 15: Marquette vs Arizona State (8pm Central, Fox Sports 1) - It's MU's first game since losing to Wisconsin, it's the first game without Deonte Burton and John Dawson, and it's the first game with Luke Fischer. There's a lot going on here to assess how the Golden Eagles will attack the remainder of the season. The Sun Devils have gone 0-3 in their tries against KenPom top 100 teams so far this season, and while they're not getting another try at that bell here, it still could be a very nice road win for Herb Sendek's crew.
Friday, December 19: #20 St. John's vs Saint Mary's (6pm Central, Fox Sports 1) - When I saw this one on the list of games for this week, I wasn't expecting it to make the Big Five. BUT: the Gaels are #77 in the KenPom rankings with two top 100 wins, including Creighton. Meanwhile, the Johnnies are blasting up the AP Top 25, with only a loss to Gonzaga on their record. Can they defend Carnesecca Arena here?
Saturday, December 20: #7 Villanova vs Syracuse (12pm Central, Fox) - A renewal of an Old Big East rivalry is always an easy way to land in the Big Five. The Wildcats get a chance to extend their season opening winning streak to 11 wins while hosting the Orange. Syracuse is reeling a little bit this season after consecutive losses to Michigan and St. John's and barely scraping past Louisiana Tech.
Saturday, December 20: #23 Butler vs Indiana (1:30pm Central, Fox Sports 1) - How about them Bulldogs! Ok, so they lost to Tennessee on Sunday. They're still ranked and here they'll get a chance to down their cross-state rivals in the Crossroads Classic. The Hoosiers haven't done anything particularly interesting so far this season with their biggest wins coming against a shorthanded SMU team and a Pitt team that might be not good. Freshman James Blackmon has been stellar for Indiana, so that'll give Butler something interesting to defend.
Sunday, December 21: Seton Hall at Georgia (5pm Central, ESPNU) - This is actually Seton Hall's second road game of the week. South Florida is ranked #155 in KenPom and Georgia is ranked #42. Yes, I'm ignoring my own "rule" about putting in Old Big East match ups in favor of a much better and much more important game. Them's the breaks. The Bulldogs are 1-3 against KenPom top 100 teams so far this season after picking up a win at home over Colorado in their last outing. Seton Hall bounced back from their first loss of the season - a completely explainable loss at Wichita State - by dispatching Saint Peter's on Sunday.