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Big East Big Five: Week 8

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Welcome to conference play! That means a slight format change for the next two months.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

With only 10 teams in the league playing two games a week against each other, you only end up with 10 games in a week.  Add in the occasional bye period in the schedule for each team, and that number goes down.

Thus, with the start of the conference schedule, we'll reduce the number of Big East men's basketball games to just three each week.  "But it's the Big Five," you say?  We'll make up for that by featuring one Big East women's basketball game every week.  That only gets us to four, though.  For the fifth game, we'll check in on our old friends in the American Athletic Conference.  Not for their best game of the week, though.  No, we'll highlight the worst game in the AAC every week, if for no other reason that to remind ourselves how lucky the Catholic Seven are to have bailed out of that failure pile.

Big East Big Five JPEG

Wednesday, December 31: #15 St. John's at Seton Hall (11am Central, Fox Sports 1) - It's the first game of the schedule!  Have to include that one, right?  This tips off the New Year's Eve marathon/quintupleheader, and it features the two schools that are in closest proximity to one another.  The Red Storm are a slightly surprising 11-1 to start the season, while the Pirates are a completely acceptable 10-2, with only road losses to Wichita State and Georgia tarnishing their record.  Getting a win over St. John's while Isaiah Whitehead is out with a stress fracture would be a huge deal for SHU's momentum.

Wednesday, December 31: Creighton at Providence (6:30pm Central, Fox Sports 1) - A part of the New Year's Eve kickoff is this game, a rematch of last year's Big East Tournament final.  Both teams are not quite up to that level this season, with Providence having lost do it all wonder Bryce Cotton as well as the departure of Creighton's Doug McDermott.  This game will give either team a nice boost as the league schedule gets started.

Saturday, January 3: Butler at #15 St. John's (3pm Central, CBS Sports Network) - I could honestly make a case for Georgetown-Xavier on Wednesday as the third game, but I wanted to toss in a game from Saturday when all 10 teams are active again.  Butler opens up with a nasty bit of scheduling: at Villanova on NYE, and then in Queens for this one.  The Bulldogs have been better than expected this season, but that's still a tough test for them.  If they get off to an 0-1 start, this game becomes pretty important to avoid 0-2, and there's nothing guaranteeing that St. John's won't be looking to avoid the same fate as well.

Big East Women's Basketball Game Of The Week

Friday, January 2: #23 Seton Hall at St. John's (5pm Central, CBS Sports Network) - The Pirates are ranked in the brand new Associated Press poll, giving the Big East two ranked teams for the first time since the Reformation.  It's their first ranking since 1995, and they got there by picking up a win over Georgia, which was ranked #14 in the country last week.  Both SHU and SJU have just one loss so far this season, and they're both part of a four way tie for first place in the Big East at 1-0.

The Worst American Athletic Conference Game Of The Week

Wednesday, December 31: Tulane at East Carolina (11am Central, ESPN3) - I suppose I should have gone with a USF game, since they're the only AAC team that's under .500 right now.  I think it's more important to highlight the fact that we're not stuck in a conference with Tulane and East Carolina again.  I still haven't forgiven the Pirates for their crappy high school gym and Marquette's loss to ECU in the spring of 2003.