Would you believe that four weeks from today, we'll be preparing for the Big East tournament? There will be teams that have already secured their NCAA tournament berths by then. With that in mind, it's a pretty momentous week for the Big East. Villanova holds their path to the conference regular season title in their hands right now, and the results of this week will determine how easy their path will be for the rest of the season. Plus: the top two teams on the women's side square off, plus a very terrible American Conference game.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015: #6 Villanova at Providence (7pm Central, Fox Sports 1) - First on deck for the 8-2 Wildcats is a trip to Rhode Island to face the 7-4 Friars. It'll be the first home game of February for Providence, as they just went 1-2 on a three game road swing. More importantly, they'll have head coach Ed Cooley back on the sideline after he left their game at Xavier midway through and had to stay in a Cincinnati hospital that night. This could be bad news for Villanova. As @FriarBlog pointed out, PC ran Georgetown out of the Dunkin' Donuts Center last season one night after Cooley's house was damaged by a fire. That win kicked off a five game winning streak. If the Friars are as motivated again by this incident involving their coach...
Wednesday, February 11, 2015: DePaul at St. John's (8pm Central, CBS Sports Network) - The Blue Demons are 6-6 in the Big East, but 12-13 overall. Their NCAA hopes are likely non-existent because of that six game losing streak that they had right before conference play started. But.... what if... They're only favored by KenPom in one of their remaining games, but as Marquette fans know all too well, that doesn't mean all that much to DePaul. Meanwhile, St. John's season is unraveling in front of them. Since starting 11-1, they're just 4-7 and have lost three of their last five. They need any kind of a victory very badly. I'll be keeping my eye on this game to see if head coach Steve Lavin is smart enough to keep Chris Obekpa out of the game after he was injured after six seconds on Saturday after sitting out the first half for elbowing Butler's Tyler Wideman in the head.
Saturday, February 14, 2015: #6 Villanova at #18 Butler (5pm Central, CBS Sports Network) - And then, regardless of how that game against PC goes, Nova still has to travel to Indianapolis on Saturday. As things stand right now, the Bulldogs are just a half game back of the Wildcats at 8-3 in Big East games. Things could get very interesting if Butler can swing the victory here. Of course, if Villanova can gut out two wins this week, they'll be free and clear to the regular season title, or at least very close to it. Butler is currently riding a five game winning streak, both overall and in just home games, and they don't play a mid-week game this week.
The Big East Women's Basketball Game of the Week
Friday, February 13, 2015: Seton Hall at DePaul (7pm Central, Big East Digital Network) - 11-2 DePaul hosting 10-2 Seton Hall. Four of the Big East's six best scorers, and three of them play for the Pirates. The top three players on the assists leader board, and two of them play for DePaul. What else do we need to say here? Both teams are on the verge of being ranked, and a win here would likely propel them into the AP Top 25.
The Worst American Athletic Conference Game of the Week
Sunday, February 15, 2015: Houston at UCF (1pm Central, ESPN3) - It was either this or UCF against last place USF. As you can argue that Central vs South is a rivalry game, this contest between 2-9 UCF and 1-9 Houston is your big winner. Making this one slightly more fun: UCF won the Texas side of this season series when Houston choked away a 69-63 lead with less than two minutes left in regulation.