Well, it’s a short week of hoops in the Big East because of Christmas. I know, it stinks, but I think it’s nice that the league goes out of its way to make sure that the players get to spend the holiday with their families.
There’s four non-conference games on the slate this week, with three of them being buy games and the fourth being much less interesting than we might have hoped back in October. Rounding out the schedule for the week is the first two Big East games of the calendar. I am legitimately shocked that one of the two is not getting the full Fox Sports treatment but is instead shunted to regional broadcast only. Oh well.
Let’s get to the three highlights of the week, shall we?
Saturday, December 29 - Xavier Musketeers at DePaul Blue Demons (1pm Central, FS1) - Here’s something that you probably didn’t expect to think about this game back in September: Both teams need to pick up a win here to get themselves feeling right as Big East play begins. Travis Steele’s first year in charge has not gone particularly well for the X-Men, or perhaps more accurately, they don’t really have anything to hang their hat on at the moment. They lost all but one of their notable non-conference games, and no one is waving a flag to be excited about beating Illinois this year. DePaul isn’t much better off, having beaten Penn State, but is coming off a bad loss at home to Boston College. This game is basically a coin toss at the moment, so we’ll see who gets things started right.
Saturday, December 29 - Butler Bulldogs at Florida Gators (3pm Central, ESPNU) - Believe it or not, this is actually the second time that these two teams have hooked it up this season. They met in the consolation bracket of the Battle 4 Atlantis back in November, and they signed up for this start of a home-and-home series even with the possibility of playing twice. BU got the 61-54 win the first time around as they rallied from a halftime deficit. Can they make it two-for-two?
Saturday, December 29 - St. John’s Red Storm at Seton Hall Pirates (7:30pm Central, Fox Sports Regional) - This one is kind of the inverse of the Xavier/DePaul game. Over there, both teams are trying to wipe out the bad memories of the non-conference slate with a win to start Big East play. Here, both teams are trying to prove that the best parts of their non-league games are what they really are. St. John’s comes in with a perfect 12-0 record, but they’re still a pretty big gap away from being ranked in the AP poll and they’ve actually lost 11 spots in the KenPom.com rankings since the season started. Seton Hall, on the other hand, weathered some early storms as they figured out what’s what without last year’s senior class and have ripped off five straight wins, including against Kentucky on a neutral floor and at Maryland. One of these teams will make a pretty big statement about who they are this season by the end of this game.
Here’s the full schedule for the week, such as it is.
Big East What To Watch: Week 8
|Thurs., Dec. 27
|Creighton vs UMKC
|Fri., Dec. 28
|#18 Marquette vs Southern
|Sat., Dec. 29
|Georgetown vs Howard
|Xavier at DePaul
|Butler at Florida
|St. John's at Seton Hall
|Fox Sports Regional