I’ve got bad news for you guys.
Based on this week’s schedule of just 11 games involving Big East teams, it would seem that the Finals Week bug is upon us. Only DePaul, Seton Hall, and Villanova are playing games before Friday, and each of those games are spread out across the first three days of the week. Marquette continues on Steve Wojciechowski’s set path of refusing to play a game on the Saturday immediately after finals are over, something that was a regular occurrence under Buzz Williams and Tom Crean, so we’ll just have to make do with paying attention to the rest of the conference this week.
Wednesday, December 13: #1 Villanova Wildcats at Temple Owls (6pm Central, ESPN2) - Welcome back to the #1 spot in the poll, Villanova. It’s the first return to the top spot in the AP poll since the final poll of the 2016-17 season. That was their first return to the top spot since they had been knocked off by - you guessed it - Marquette last January. Here, they’ll be making the 15 mile trip to the Liacouras Center in Philly to play the Owls for their second road game of the year. Temple has stumbled a couple of times this year, but both on the road and both against quality opponents. With wins over Wisconsin and Saint Joseph’s in their last two games, Fran Dunphy’s crew should be fired up for their rivalry game with the Wildcats.
Saturday, December 16: Butler Bulldogs at #17 Purdue Boilermakers (11am Central, Fox) - Saturday’s saving grace starts early with the Crossroads Classic putting Butler on in the front half of the doubleheader. Marquette fans are already aware of what Purdue is capable of this season, plus the Boilermakers are coming in off of six straight wins. Fun Fact: Butler has never lost to Purdue in this event, and each of their three wins were with three different head coaches. Can they make it four for four?
Saturday, December 16: #15 Seton Hall Pirates at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (11am Central, Big Ten Network) - Seton Hall’s only loss is against a very good Rhode Island squad on a neutral floor. Rutgers hasn’t beaten anyone of note in their eight wins already this year. This game is playing at the RAC. Thus, the Pirates are very much on upset alert.
Saturday, December 16: Syracuse Orange at Georgetown Hoyas (11:30am Central, CBS) - The general rule of thumb for the non-conference portion of the schedule is that we want all of the Big East teams to go undefeated. Non-conference wins make the whole league look better and that makes it easier for the conference to wreck shop in terms of the number of teams that make it into the NCAA tournament. With that in mind, I would not be against Syracuse coming into the Capital One Center here and just clobbering the Hoyas. Patrick Ewing’s team has yet to play a top 200 KenPom team, and after the absurdity of the Hoyas getting an AP top 25 vote last week and a coaches poll vote this week, I’ve had about enough of “omg georgetown is an undefeated powerhouse” from Casual Hoya. Then again, it would be kind of fun if Georgetown can hold it together long enough to be undefeated on December 30th when they come to the Bradley Center.
Saturday, December 16: Northwestern Wildcats at DePaul Blue Demons (1pm Central, FS1) - It’s going to be a busy week for Northwestern before they arrive at Wintrust on Saturday morning. Monday and Thursday are both game days for the Wildcats as they host Chicago State and a pretty quality Valparaiso squad out at the Rosemont Horizon. The Wildcats have struggled this season after coming in to the year with most of the program’s first ever NCAA tournament team returning for another go-round. They could be ready for DePaul to pull what may be perceived slightly as an upset. The Blue Demons don’t have any notable wins on their record yet, so they could really use a booster shot heading into Big East play.
Sunday, December 17: DePaul Blue Demons at #2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12pm Central, ACC Network Extra) - We’ve got two high profile women’s basketball games to wrap up the week. First, DePaul heads a bit east to South Bend to take on the Irish. It will be the first of two straight Big East opponents for Notre Dame, as Marquette will be in the Joyce Center next Wednesday afternoon. DePaul plays an awfully similar style to Marquette, so this game could provide Carolyn Kieger with an idea of how to attack the Irish on both ends of the court.
Sunday, December 17: #11 UCLA Bruins at Seton Hall Pirates (12pm Central, SHUPirates.com) - I’m not entirely sure how Tony Bozzella swung a game with the Bruins at Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, but here we are. Both teams currently have a 7-2 record, but UCLA’s losses are to #1 Connecticut and on the road against Oklahoma State, while SHU has lost a squeaker at home against Princeton and got blasted on the road by Rutgers. Maybe they have some magic in their back pockets.....
Here’s what passes for the men’s hoops schedule for the week.
Big East Basketball Week 6
|Mon., Dec. 11
|Alabama A&M at DePaul
|Tues., Dec. 12
|Saint Peter's at #15 Seton Hall
|Wed., Dec. 13
|#1 Villanova at Temple
|Fri., Dec. 15
|Maryland-Eastern Shore at Creighton
|Sat., Dec. 16
|Butler vs #17 Purdue (Bankers Life Fieldhouse)
|#15 Seton Hall at Rutgers
|Big Ten Network
|Syracuse at Georgetown
|Northwestern at DePaul
|East Tennessee State at #10 Xavier
|Fox Sports Regional
|Sun., Dec. 17
|Stony Brook at Providence
|Iona at St. John's