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Big East What To Watch: Week 1

COLLEGE HOOPS IS HERE! Here’s what Marquette’s league is doing in the first week of the season.

NCAA Basketball: New Jersey Tech at Seton Hall
Zach Cooks is NJIT’s lone rep on the preseason all-ASun team.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

HOLY CRAP THERE’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL THAT COUNTS TOMORROW!

That means that it’s time for the very first Big East What To Watch of the year. In case you’re new around here (and if you are, welcome, please comment to your heart’s content), what we’re going to do here is 1) provide you with the schedule for all of men’s basketball in the Big East for the week and 2) point out the highlights of what’s on the schedule each week.

#2 is the big variable each week, as sometimes it’s easy to see the highlights and sometimes it’s very hard. Week #1 is one of those harder weeks as nothing on the schedule immediately jumps off the page at you. However, there’s a couple of KenPom.com top 200 foes on the slate and a couple of teams aiming at winning their conferences this year, too.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Tuesday, November 5th: Providence Friars vs Sacred Heart Pioneers (6pm Central, Fox Sports Regional providers) - This one is one of the conference contender games in the league this year. KenPom.com has the Pioneers as a co-favorite in the NEC this season, even though they start off the year at #232 in the rankings, and they picked up three first place votes in the official preseason poll. It’s still a 97% chance of victory for Ed Cooley and his team, but if you can get a win against a team that might/should/could win a league, that’s going to be a quality non-conference buy game win.

Tuesday, November 5: Marquette Golden Eagles vs Loyola Maryland Greyhounds (7pm Central, Fox College Sports) - In case I haven’t been effusive enough in my praise of this year’s Marquette non-conference schedule, this game makes my point for me very nicely. Loyola is the 2nd best KenPom ranked opponent on the Big East schedule this week, coming in at #186 to start the year. The Greyhounds don’t figure to be a contender for the Patriot League crown, but that’s more a commentary on the quality of the PL than anything else. Then again, maybe Santi Aldama changes things for Loyola.

Wednesday, November 6: St. John’s Red Storm vs Mercer Bears (5:30pm Central, FS1) - Mercer comes in two spots behind the Greyhounds in the KenPom preseason rankings at #188, so this is one heck of an opener for St. John’s when you take what’s going on with that program into account. This might be a particularly interesting test for Mike Anderson and his hastily assembled roster in Queens, so make sure to check in on the Johnnies on Wednesday evening.

Friday, November 8th: DePaul Blue Demons vs Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (7pm Central, FS2) - I don’t want to call it Upset Watch on any level here, as DePaul has a 92% chance of victory according to KenPom. However, everyone’s favorite Fancy Math site also has the Knights as one of the four teams — including Sacred Heart — as the co-favorites in the NEC. On top of that, this will be DePaul’s third game of the season, as they hastily jammed a non-Division 1 opponent in on Wednesday, the day after their opener against Alcorn State, in order to burn through head coach Dave Leitao’s three game NCAA suspension before facing Iowa on Sunday. Three games in a 72 hour span, no head coach, a team that could win the NEC, it’s DePaul..... again, not Upset Watch, but worth keeping an eye on here.

Saturday, November 9: Providence Friars vs NJIT Highlanders (3:30pm Central, Fox Sports Regional providers) - And now we get to the best team on the Big East schedule this week, as NJIT comes in at #140 on the preseason KenPom rankings. It’s at the Dunk in Rhode Island, so it still figures to be a relative easy win for the Friars. However, they’ve got point guard issues to figure out for certain after last season, and the fact that they’re on this list twice with two relatively challenging non-con games tells us that we might learn a lot about what’s going on in Friartown pretty quickly. NJIT is just a bit behind Liberty in KenPom’s preseason algorithmic predictions for the ASun, although they came in fourth in the league’s official poll.

Here’s the full schedule for the week, with all times Central aka Best Time Zone.

Big East Basketball Schedule: Week 1

Date Game Time (CT) Television
Date Game Time (CT) Television
Tues., November 5 #12 Seton Hall vs Wagner 5:30 PM FS1
#19 Xavier vs Jacksonville 6:00 PM FS2
Providence vs Sacred Heart 6:00 PM Fox Sports Regional
Marquette vs Loyola-MD 7:00 PM Fox College Sports
Creighton vs Kennesaw State 7:00 PM Fox Sports Regional
#10 Villanova vs Army 7:30 PM FS1
DePaul vs Alcorn State 8:00 PM FS2
Wed., November 6 Butler vs IUPUI 5:30 PM FS2
St. John's vs Mercer 5:30 PM FS1
Georgetown vs Mount St. Mary's 6:00 PM CBS Sports Network
DePaul vs Chicago 7:30 PM FS2
Fri., November 8 #19 Xavier vs Siena 6:00 PM Fox Sports Regional
DePaul vs Fairleigh Dickinson 7:00 PM FS2
Sat., November 9 Georgetown vs Central Arkansas 11:00 AM Fox Sports Regional
#12 Seton Hall vs Stony Brook 1:30 PM Fox Sports Regional
St. John's vs Central Connecticut St. 3:00 PM FS2
Providence vs NJIT 3:30 PM Fox Sports Regional
Butler vs New Orleans 6:00 PM Fox Sports Regional