This conference has gotten a little topsy-turvy over the last few weeks, thanks to a couple of blown out ACLs. If you aren’t sold on Creighton and Xavier going forward without their point guards, then you’d have a reasonable case for saying Marquette is the #3 team in the league. I think that’s a bit crazy, but you can see the case for it.
In any case, we’ve made the turn from the first half of the league schedule to the second here, but somehow, nothing is a definitely known quantity amongst the 10 teams in the league. Anything can happen between now and March 4th, and we’ve got a bunch of great games this week that will go a long way towards answering some of the questions that we have right now.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017: #22 Creighton at #16 Butler (6pm Central, FS1) - Kind of a weird situation we find ourselves in as both squads need a win to right the ship. While Creighton did end their two game skid since learning Maurice Watson would be done for the season, the win was at home over DePaul. The Bluejays need a win to show that there’s still some of that top 10 team left in them without Watson and they can do it by winning in Hinkle. Speaking of winning at Hinkle, the Bulldogs had a 14 game home winning streak snapped on Saturday when they lost to Georgetown, a team that seemed to be screaming towards the bottom of the table just over a week ago. No one’s going to confuse Butler with a team that’s in any kind of trouble, but they’d absolutely like to get a new home game winning streak started.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017: Marquette at St. John’s (6pm Central, FS2) - So..... about Saturday.... Marquette came off their upset of #1 ranked Villanova and somehow figured out a way to lose to Providence on the same Bradley Center court. Not great! Not bad, but not great. Coming off of that bummer, the Golden Eagles head out to Madison Square Garden to tangle with the Johnnies in a game that MU reaaaaaally needs to win to clean up their postseason resume. Losing to PC ultimately won’t hurt MU all that much, but a loss to a sub-100 KenPom that’s also toting around a sub-.500 record at 10-13? That’s a problem. St. John’s has split their last four games to get to 4-6 in league play, and the last time these teams squared off in the Garden, Marquette had to hang on for a 101-93 victory in the Big East tournament. Given the current state of MU’s defense, that kind of game’s not all that unlikely this time around.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017: Seton Hall at Xavier (8pm Central, FS1) - Yes, that’s right, the Musketeers are no longer ranked. They’ve dropped out of the top 25 for the first time since Week 2 of last season thanks to losing four out of their last six contests. They bounced back from Thursday’s loss to Cincinnati with a Sunday win over St. John’s, but they still suffered a loss along the way. Sophomore guard Edmond Sumner tore his ACL in a nasty looking injury (seriously, if you get grossed out easily, don’t go looking for the video) against the Johnnies, and he’s done for the year. Things got dicey for Xavier without Sumner, as they let a 12 point lead dwindle to just two in the first two minutes after he got hurt. This will be XU’s first game without Sumner, and Seton Hall is coming in pissed off as well. The Pirates have lost four of their last five with only a home win over St. John’s to keep them warm. They’ll have to go out to the Queen City for this one, but they sure need the win to keep their postseason hopes alive.
The Big East Women’s Basketball Game Of The Week
Sunday, February 5, 2017: St. John’s at Marquette (1pm Central, Big East Digital Network) - It might have happened before, but I don’t distinctly remember the women’s GOTW matching up with a men’s game that gets a spotlight in the past. Anyway, that’s the case here as the Golden Eagles look for revenge against the Red Storm team that beat them in New York earlier this year. Marquette has lost their last two games, both in somewhat horrible fashion, and even though they’ve got wins over Oregon State, Arizona State, and DePaul in their back pocket, the sudden rash of losses isn’t doing their postseason outlook any favors. These two squads are tied for third in the league at 7-4 right now, and a SJU win would give them the tiebreaker over MU when it comes time to seed the conference tournament in just four weeks.
The Worst American Athletic Conference Game Of The Week
Thursday, February 2, 2017: Memphis at South Florida (6pm Central, ESPN News) - The Bulls are ranked #287 in KenPom as they continue to plummet since the start of league play. As the home team, they have an 18% chance of winning this game, and KenPom has the Tigers picked to win by 10. If Memphis goes into the Sun Dome and pulls out the blowout win, there’s a real chance USF could be a sub-300 team after the game. If they’re not, well, there’s always Sunday on the road against Temple to finish off the job. (Side note: Don’t overlook #260 Tulane in this quest for the Bottom 50 teams in the country.) (Side side note: There are 11 teams in the AAC. Six of them are KenPom sub-100 squads.