Conference play kicks off in the Big East TONIGHT~! with a pair of games live on FS1. There’s 10 total games going on this week, and while I haven’t done the math to double check, I presume that we’re getting all 10 teams in action twice. If I felt like getting crazy with the Cheese Whiz, I could go through and give you an interesting storyline for all 10.
But then we’d be here all day, and I’m already publishing this in the morning before the AP poll updates. Don’t worry, we’ll update the text of the article and the table with the full schedule as needed later on. I’ve got three games that are of particular note this week, but hey: aren’t they all notable?
Monday, December 30: Seton Hall Pirates at DePaul Blue Demons (7:30pm Central, FS1) - Wellllllll, lookiee what we have here. The last time we really paid attention to Seton Hall, they were miraculously beating Maryland without the services of Myles Powell or Sandro Mamukelashvili. This was particularly notable because they got absolutely hammered by Rutgers of all teams in the game where Powell suffered his concussion and where Sandro already had his broken wrist. We have no idea if they’re going to be able to continue that kind of play without those two. Their first task in league play as they try to stay afloat at least until Powell gets cleared? Heading to Wintrust Arena to face off against what has to be the biggest surprise story of non-conference play — sorry, Butler, you’re actually respectable — the DePaul Blue Demons. DePaul was on the verge of being ranked before suffering a home loss to Buffalo a few weeks ago, but they’re still in the conversation here. They would like nothing more to legitimize their first two months than starting off league play with a win of any kind.
Tuesday, December 31: #11 Butler Bulldogs at St. John’s Red Storm (6:30pm Central, FS1) - As mentioned a moment ago, Butler can’t be the biggest surprise of the first two months of the season because they have a history of being a good basketball team. Not necessarily under LaVall Jordan’s guidance, of course, but in general over the last 10 years or so. Thus, the fact that the Bulldogs are currently the KenPom.com favorite to win the Big East is not a surprise, even if they were picked to finish eighth in the Big East in the preseason coaches’ poll. They start off their league schedule on the road, which is a fun wrinkle to things, as BU’s lone loss so far on the season is on the road at Baylor. I would say that St. John’s is no Baylor this season, but hey: Both the Red Storm and the Bears have beaten Arizona this season, so maybe they are. St. John’s had their fair share of unsurprising struggles as they got going under first year head coach Mike Anderson, but then Golden Gate Mike went out to San Francisco and beat those Wildcats in their most recent game. I have no idea what to make of the Johnnies right now, and I might not for several weeks if they win this game.
Saturday, January 4: #10 Villanova Wildcats at Marquette Golden Eagles (1pm Central, Fox) - Both Villanova (home vs Xavier) and Marquette (at Creighton) have pretty interesting contests earlier in the week, but this one gives both sides a big test. It’s Villanova’s first road test of the league schedule, and given their #10 AP poll ranking as of Sunday, that’s kind of a big deal. Marquette is looking for a little bit of legitimacy as a relevant league contender after getting smashed by both Wisconsin and Maryland in non-conference play. The New Year’s Day opener on the road against the Jays is a tossup in terms of prognostication, but either A) MU comes in fresh off a big road win and ready to do damage against the cream of the crop in the league over the past several years or B) the Golden Eagles need to buckle both up and down in order to stop themselves from going 0-2 in the first two games of the 18 game conference schedule.
Here’s the full men’s basketball schedule for the week, with all times Central as always.
Big East MBB Schedule: Week 9
|Mon., December 30||Xavier at #10 Villanova||5:30 PM||FS1|
|Seton Hall at DePaul||7:30 PM||FS1|
|Tues., December 31||Georgetown at Providence||4:30 PM||FS1|
|#11 Butler at St. John's||6:30 PM||FS1|
|Wed., January 1||Marquette at Creighton||8:00 PM||CBS Sports Network|
|Fri., January 3||Georgetown at Seton Hall||8:00 PM||FS1|
|Sat., January 4||Creighton at #11 Butler||11:00 AM||FS1|
|Providence at DePaul||1:00 PM||FS1|
|#10 Villanova at Marquette||1:00 PM||Fox|
|Sun., January 5||St. John's at Xavier||3:30 PM||Fox|