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Big East What To Watch: Week 5

The Big East/Big 12 challenge is just the beginning for what’s going on this week.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 17 Div I Men’s Championship - Second Round - Florida v Texas Tech Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here’s a weird note for the week: As a whole, the Big East is playing 10 Major Seven conference opponents this week, and none of them are ranked in the Associated Press poll. Five of those games are against the Big 12, as the new scheduling alliance challenge begins this week. Things are a little haphazard in that event this year, as some of the games were previously scheduled before the challenge was announced. We’ll see if the whole thing is aligned into one day on the non-conference calendar down the road, but for now, we’ll see some games this week and more of them next week.

Okay, let’s dive in, shall we?

Tuesday, December 3: #24 Butler Bulldogs at Ole Miss Rebels (5pm Central, SEC Network) - Yep, Butler’s ranked now. LaVar Jordan has his squad unbeaten in their first seven games and that includes wins over Minnesota, Missouri, and Stanford. Those last two were at the Hall of Fame Classic event in Kansas City, so they’ve won away from home. In this one, they’ll get their first true road game of the year, and it’s an interesting approach from the other side. Kermit Davis has the Rebels at 5-2 so far, with losses to Memphis and Oklahoma State away from Oxford. This will be their first crack at a top 200 KenPom opponent at home this season, so that provides a very interesting and tasty game.

Wednesday, December 4: Georgetown Hoyas at Oklahoma State Cowboys (7pm Central, ESPN+) - Well, if there was ever a week that we should be thankful that this What To Watch didn’t need to publish on Monday because of games on Monday night, this is it. Between the Hoyas’ early season struggles and Oklahoma State’s solid start to the year, I don’t think I would have included this game in the What To Watch before Monday night happened. That’s when we found out that James Akinjo and Josh LeBlanc are no longer part of the team, while Galen Alexander and Myron Gardner are facing the same legal troubles that LeBlanc is. It’s entirely possible that by the time this game tips on Wednesday that Alexander and Gardner are gone, too. In either case, losing Akinjo to what appears to be a transfer reason unrelated to the legal problem with the other guys is a blow to Patrick Ewing’s squad no matter what, and mixing in the rest of the storm clouds just makes that worse. We’ll see what the new look Hoyas actually accomplish in this one.

Wednesday December 4: DePaul Blue Demons vs Texas Tech Red Raiders (7:30pm Central, FS1) - DePaul is 8-0 with road wins against Iowa, Boston College, and Minnesota. According to KenPom.com, Texas Tech will be the best opponent they’ve faced thus far this season, and they get them at Wintrust Arena, which is a nice bonus for them. However, Texas Tech isn’t quite what they were to start the season, as we officially have “hey, wait, is Chris Beard actually magic or not” questions. They have taken back-to-back nights losses to Iowa (hey, DePaul beat them) and Creighton in their last two games over the holiday weekend, and that’s why the Red Raiders aren’t ranked right now. This one has turned into a big time test for both sides, and that’s always good news for this weekly schedule rundown.

Friday, December 6: Providence Friars at Rhode Island Rams (6pm Central, ESPN2) - It’s a coin toss matchup per KenPom (52% chance for URI) in an in-state yearly rivalry game. That’s nice. Providence has struggled this year to this point, while Rhode Island has won the games that they should have and lost the games that they should have.

Saturday, December 7: #24 Butler Bulldogs vs Florida Gators (11am Central, Fox) - And yet another major test for Butler with their shiny new national ranking. If you go by the AP poll, this is the best opponent on the schedule in the conference this week, as the Gators are the unofficial #26 team in the country. It seems like Florida might have righted their ship after early season losses to Florida State and Connecticut by winning the Charleston Classic event, which included a win over Xavier in the title game. This one will be at Hinkle Fieldhouse, so there’s a slight advantage to the Bulldogs there. On top of that, their result at Ole Miss may end up impacting how Kamar Baldwin et. al. attack this game, too.

Saturday, December 7: Xavier Musketeers vs Cincinnati Bearcats (4pm Central, FS1) - The Crosstown Shootout is my favorite Big East non-conference game of the year that doesn’t involve Marquette every season. It’s a heated rivalry, and with Xavier in the Big East now, I get to cheer for the side I actually want to win the game, instead of begrudgingly wanting the Bearcats to come out ahead because it’s good for MU’s strength of schedule. #ZipEmUp

Sunday, December 8: #16 Seton Hall Pirates at Iowa State Cyclones (8pm Central, ESPN2) - There’s two things at work here. First, Seton Hall is the highest ranked Big East team in the AP poll this week and this is their only game of the week as well. On top of that, it’s actually a rematch of the Pirates’ 84-76 victory in their final game of the Battle 4 Atlantis. While both the Pirates and the Cyclones were probably locked into the Battle for a few years now, it was pretty unlikely that they would end up meeting there, so they ended up paired off in the Big East/Big 12 challenge series. While that one was in the Bahamas, this one will be at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, so we’ll see if the Cyclones can quiet Myles Powell on their own floor.

Here’s the full schedule for the week! All times Central, as always.

Big East MBB Schedule: Week 5

Date Game Time (CT) Television
Date Game Time (CT) Television
Tues., December 3 #24 Butler at Ole Miss 5:00 PM SEC Network
St. John's vs Saint Peter's 5:30 PM FS1
Creighton vs Oral Roberts 7:30 PM FS1
Wed., December 4 #23 Villanova vs Penn 5:30 PM FS1
Xavier vs Green Bay 6:00 PM FS2
Georgetown at Oklahoma State 7:00 PM ESPN+
DePaul vs Texas Tech 7:30 PM FS1
Marquette vs Jacksonville 8:00 PM FS2
Fri., December 6 Providence at Rhode Island 6:00 PM ESPN2
Sat., December 7 St. John's vs West Virginia 11:00 AM FS1
#24 Butler vs Florida 11:00 AM Fox
Creighton vs Nebraska 12:30 PM FS1
#23 Villanova at Saint Joseph's 2:00 PM ESPN2
Xavier vs Cincinnati 4:00 PM FS1
Marquette at Kansas State 8:00 PM ESPN2
Georgetown at SMU 8:30 PM ESPNU
Sun., December 8 DePaul vs Buffalo 4:00 PM FS1
#16 Seton Hall at Iowa State 8:00 PM ESPN2