Everyone's played nine games now. We have six teams over .500 in league play through the first half of the schedule. Some people - Villanova, Xavier, Providence - are pretty well set on their NCAA tournament futures. Other guys - Georgetown, Creighton, Seton Hall - seem to be trending towards the tournament, but still have lots of work to do. Further down the chain we see Marquette and Butler, two teams that aren't totally out of it, but almost can't afford to lose at all for the rest of the season.
We'll see how things go as teams get their second nine games started...
Tuesday, February 2, 2016: Georgetown at Butler (6pm Central, FS1) - Point blank: if they want to make the NCAA tournament, both teams have to win this game. At 3-6 in the Big East, Butler hasn't won a game against a top 50 KenPom team since mid-December, and since the Hoyas aren't actually a top 50 team right now, the Bulldogs can't afford to lose. On the flip side of this, Georgetown's still digging out from that Radford/Monmouth/UNC-Asheville hole and they need to keep stacking wins, even though they're already 6-3 in the Big East.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016: Creighton at Villanova (7pm Central, CBS Sports Network) - After going out to a 5-2 start in Big East play, Creighton has lost their last two: a phenomonal comeback by Georgetown/collapse by the Jays and a home loss to Seton Hall. 5-4 in league play isnot too bad for a team that was picked to finish in the bottom end of the Big East this season, but if they have postseason dreams, they have to get it turned around quickly. Villanova survived a strong first half from St. John's on Sunday to bounce back from their first league loss in over a year. Adding on to that is that the Wildcats pulled off that win without Daniel Ochefu, who missed the SJU game with a concussion. Ochefu's probably going to miss this game, too, so that's a big opportunity for the Bluejays.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016: Marquette at Seton Hall (7:30pm Central, FS1) - Even though they're just 3-4 in their last seven, Seton Hall is edging towards the top 25, picking up a 25th place vote in the coaches poll this week. They're 5-4 in league action right now, which means it's Moment Of Truth Time: The Pirates were 5-4 in Big East games last season before going 1-9 down the stretch. If they want to make the postseason for just the second time under head coach Kevin Willard, they have to finish strong. Meanwhile, Marquette has to be feeling pretty good about themselves after burying Butler in an avalanche of three pointers on Saturday. The season is essentially on the line in every single game the rest of the way for the Golden Eagles, and through 20 minutes in their first meeting, Marquette seemed to have Seton Hall's number. Things COMPLETELY fell apart in the second half, and I know for a fact that MU fans would really love to get revenge for that loss out in Jersey on Wednesday.
The Big East Women's Basketball Game Of The Week
Sunday, February 7, 2016: St. John's at Seton Hall (12:30pm Central, FS1) - Both of these teams were in the Midwest this past weekend, and it did not go as well as they would have hoped. St. John's got swept by DePaul and Marquette, while Seton Hall split their games, but in the odd way of defeating first place DePaul but losing to Marquette. That leaves these two squads in a three way tie with Villanova for second place in the Big East right now. They're two games behind DePaul for first place with both games against the Blue Demons already in the rear view mirror, so if they have any thoughts of capturing that league title by the end of February, this game is a must win for both squads.
The Worst American Athletic Conference Game Of The Week
Thursday, February 4, 2016: UCF at Tulane (7pm Central, ESPN News) - Shoutout to Tulane for figuring out how to be in last place in the AAC while not being the worst KenPom rated team in the league. Hell, the Green Wave actually hold a win over South Florida, that aforementioned worst KenPom team, yet Tulane is in last at 1-9 and South Florida is just baaarrrely in front of them at 2-8. Anyway, this game has the 4-4 Knights headed out to New Orleans, where they are not favored to win. That's one hell of an accomplishment, given that Tulane is one of the 50 worst offenses in the country. Don't watch this game.