Your top four teams in the Big East men's basketball standings right now: Villanova, Xavier, Creighton, and Georgetown. Didn't see that particular grouping coming after five or six games when league play kicked off in late December, did you? Providence and Butler have scuffled in the early goings, so even though they were knocking around the top 10 in the AP poll, they can't claim one of those top four spots in the league right now. Luckily for us, they actually play each other this week....
Tuesday, January 19, 2016: #18 Butler at #16 Providence (5:30pm Central, FS1) - If you expected these two teams to be a combined 5-5 in league play at this point, you are one negative Nancy. Providence has taken L's against Marquette and Seton Hall, while you can't really blame Butler for coming away from games against Xavier, Providence, and Villanova on the losing side of things. Still, what we have here is two teams that really need a win right now, but only one of them is going to pull it off. The Bulldogs already lost the Hinkle Fieldhouse side of the matchup, can they bounce back and even the season series on their trip to the Dunk?
Wednesday, January 20, 2016: #4 Villanova at Seton Hall (8pm Central, FS1) - And then there's the Wildcats, who will have gone over a year without losing to a Big East team by the time this game tips off. They've got three of the five most efficient players in the Big East and two of the five most efficient players in the country, at least according to how KenPom organizes their Player of the Year list. They're an unrelating juggernaut of destruction. Seton Hall, though, is coming off of a big win at Providence, and they only got nicked by nine points in their first meeting this season with Nova. Can they continue to shoot up the league standings and take the "we beat Villanova" crown from Georgetown?
Saturday, January 23, 2016: Georgetown at Connecticut (11am Central, CBS) - No joke, if Connecticut didn't beat Houston on Sunday, the Huskies were going to go from "Best Big East Game" to "Worst AAC Game" in this list. But they pulled off the win against the Cougars, so they're 12-5 and a top 40 KenPom team. That's a high quality opponent for the Hoyas, who desperately need wins against that type of team, and they get the bonus of having to travel to Hartford for the game. Plus, side bonus of an old school Big East game showing up in the middle of the Big East schedule for no apparent reason!
The Big East Women's Basketball Game Of The Week
Friday, January 22, 2016: Xavier at Seton Hall (6pm Central, Big East Digital Network) - Seton Hall was riding high coming into Big East play, with only a loss at Georgia on their record. Now they've lost three of their last four, and only a hard fought win over Georgetown on Sunday has allowed them to avoid being on a losing streak right now. While the three losses are to the three teams at the top of the league standings right now, that can't have been the results that Tony Bozzella wanted to see from his squad. Now they get to host Xavier, which is actually tied for third place right now in the league, just ahead of the Pirates in the league standings at 5-2. The Musketeers are a bit of a surprise after getting a great non-conference record against what was clearly a weak schedule. This can be a big statement game for both teams as we get to the midway point of conference play.
The Worst American Athletic Conference Game Of The Week
Sunday, January 24, 2016: Tulane at Cincinnati (11am Central, ESPNU) - The AAC is sneaky this year. It's been getting harder and harder to isolate the worst game of the year, and that's with the three worst teams sitting on one combined league win right now. So, since the two winless squads are playing solid squads this week, we go to the third and fourth worst teams in the league. It's kind of unfair to call the Bearcats the fourth worst team in the league, but hey: that's what happens when you have the fourth most losses, even if it's still two fewer than the third worst team. Odds are that Cincinnati will obliterate the Green Wave here (KenPom predicts 70-56), which just makes the game even worse to watch.