As the only team still undefeated in league play, it appears that Villanova is starting to solidify their hold on the top spot in the conference. Right now, KenPom projects them to finish 16-2. The second place projection? Xavier, at 13-5. Third place? Creighton, at 11-7. No, really.
I'm guessing things are not going to shake out with six teams finishing at .500 or worse. But that's where we are right now from a projection point of view. It's a big week for a lot of teams, including your very own Marquette Golden Eagles. Let's see what's best this week, shall we?
Tuesday, January 12, 2016: #12 Providence at Creighton (7:30pm Central, FS1) - As I mentioned above, the Bluejays have suddenly made a run at the top half of the league table. They're 3-1 right now after pulling the upset win over Seton Hall on Saturday, and now they get a chance to prove they belong in the rarified air as they host the Friars. PC hasn't played since Tuesday night's loss to Marquette, and they're not favored to go into Omaha and pull out a win, either. If nothing else, we're going to get one hell of a matchup of point guards in this one, with Providence's Kris Dunn lining up across from CU's Maurice Watson, the reigning Big East Player of the Week.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016: Marquette at #6 Villanova (7:30pm Central, FS1) - Ever heard of the saying "styles make fights?" The concept is that the particular strengths and weaknesses of the combatants mesh in a particular way in every contest, and it takes a particular kind of cosmic alignment to get an exciting match out of two teams that don't match up well otherwise. This is a long way of explaining that Villanova is the second slowest team in league play this season in terms of possessions per game, while Marquette is the fastest. Nova's the most efficient offense so far in conference play, while Marquette is the least efficient. With their 4-0 start this season, the Wildcats have now won 16 straight regular season games against a Big East opponent, while Marquette is looking to maintain their momentum after picking up two wins last week, including that stellar road W against Providence.
Saturday, January 16, 2016: #6 Villanova at Georgetown (noon Central, CBS) - As I mentioned in the last blurb, Villanova has won 16 straight regular season games against a Big East opponent as of Monday morning, and 19 straight games overall. The last BE team to defeat the Wildcats? Why, none other than the Georgetown Hoyas, natch. That game was a wicked bombing with Georgetown taking a 20 point victory at the end of it. The Hoyas are 3-1 in league play this season, with only a road loss to a frisky Creighton squad marring their perfect record. It's been an up and down (mostly down) season for Georgetown so far this year, and getting the win over the presumptive league favorites would do the Hoyas a bunch of good down the road.
The Big East Women's Basketball Game Of The Week
Sunday, January 17, 2016: DePaul at Xavier (1pm Central, Big East Digital Network) - When I wrote the WBB conference whip-around post before league play started, I wasn't impressed with Xavier. The Musketeers had built up a shiny record, but they hadn't really beaten anyone of note in the non-conference section of the schedule. They're 4-1 and tied for first place in the Big East now. Credit where credit is due, of course, but we have to point out that they haven't played any of the three favorites in the Big East when conference action started. That changes here as XU hosts fellow 4-1 first place team DePaul. The Blue Demons are likely to be cranky when they head out on the road this weekend after suffering their first Big East loss to Villanova on Sunday, so Xavier's going to get all they can handle in this one.
The Worst American Athletic Conference Game Of The Week
Tuesday, January 12, 2016: Tulane at South Florida (6pm Central, ESPNews) - Someone is walking out of the Sun Dome with their first AAC win of the season. Tulane and USF are two of the three teams without a win in league play so far and I was hoping that at least two of them would be able to hold out on winning long enough to face off with one another so we could use that game here. The third winless team is East Carolina, and if we're lucky, maybe the loser of this game will be able to keep their streak intact long enough to play ECU in yet another "someone must win" game.