Well, we certainly had an eventful week in the Big East last week, as this very weekly article correctly advised you that Penn could be capable of defeating Villanova. If that advisement followed by the Quakers pulling the upset at The Palestra the very next day doesn’t have you running to read this week’s installment, I don’t know what’s going to do it.
We’re out of Finals Week for most of the league, so there’s 19 games going on this week. They’re all stacked between Tuesday and Saturday, as the teams are looking to get the players back home for Christmas. There’s a couple of good ones on Tuesday night, but there’s a lot more waiting for us on the weekend. Let’s dig in, shall we?
Tuesday, December 18: Xavier Musketeers at Missouri Tigers (6pm Central, ESPNU) - Both sides of this matchup find themselves in need of a quality win at this point on the calendar. Xavier’s best win is KenPom #94 Illinois on a neutral floor, while Mizzou has a home overtime win over #44 UCF in their pocked, but they’re almost on the way out of the top 100 at #95 themselves. This might not qualify as a quality win for Xavier, but it is a road win, which is always beneficial.
Tuesday, December 18: Creighton Bluejays at Oklahoma Sooners (8pm Central, ESPNU) - WOO BIG EAST DOUBLEHEADER ON ESPNU! The Bluejays have been through the wringer a little bit lately. They let Gonzaga slip through their fingers at The CHI, and then went out to Lincoln and got bodyslammed by Nebraska. Oklahoma is 9-1 and is perhaps better than expected this season, and if Martin Krampelj and crew can pull out a victory in Norman, that would work out very well for them in the long term.
Thursday, December 20: Creighton Bluejays vs Coe Kohawks (7pm Central, FS1) - Okay, look. The second you looked at this, you immediately guessed that Coe is in fact a Division 3 team and you wondered why the hell I put this in here. You’re 100% right, it is not a schedule highlight that you need to make time to watch this week. HOWEVER, I put it in here to marvel at the fact that FS1 is broadcast this glorified exhibition game. NEAT.
Friday, December 21: Butler Bulldogs vs UC-Irvine Anteaters (5:30pm Central, FS1) - Fun Fact Time! The Anteaters are KenPom’s favorite to win the Big West conference title right now, and they project to win the league by three full games! Anytime you can schedule yourself into a game that expects to be against a mid-major league champion, you’re doing something right with your life. Irvine is one of the better defensive teams in the country, so Butler will have to be careful to avoid the upset.
Friday, December 21: #20 Marquette Golden Eagles vs #14 Buffalo Bulls (7:30pm Central, FS1) - On his weekly radio show a few Thursdays ago, head coach Steve Wojciechowski shared that multiple head coaches told him over the summer during the recruiting periods that he was insane for scheduling this game. Arizona’s Sean Miller, who got caught on the business end of an 89-68 loss to the Bulls in the NCAA tournament last year told Wojo that the Bulls might have been the best team that the Wildcats played all of last season. Yay! The Bulls have a trip to Syracuse on Tuesday before coming to Milwaukee on Saturday, so they will either be riding higher than ever or be pissed off about suffering their first loss of the season.
Friday, December 21: Providence Friars at Texas Longhorns (8pm Central, ESPN2) - Apparently it’s “Road Games Against The Big 12 Or Former Members Of The Big 12” Week in the Big East, and you can toss in last Saturday’s Villanova/Kansas game into the mix, too. Three of ‘em here! Providence already isn’t favored to win this game, and the fact that freshman phenom AJ Reeves is out until sometime in January probably isn’t going to help their case all that much. Still, Shaka Smart’s Longhorns have been vulnerable in Austin already this season with home losses to Radford and VCU. With no top 90 wins on the season yet, a road conquest here would be a big deal for Alpha Diallo et al.
Saturday, December 22: Villanova Wildcats vs Connecticut Huskies (11:30am Central, CBS) - This one takes place at Madison Square Garden, so the environment is going to ramp up the importance for both sides. Villanova will be trying to avoid their first three game losing streak since January of 2013, not to mention dodging falling to 8-5 in non-conference play as this will be their last game before league play starts. Meanwhile, UConn had that big win against Syracuse in The Garden in mid-November, but the Huskies have kind of just been floating along since then during Dan Hurley’s first season. A win here would be a big boost for them as well.
Saturday, December 22: #19 Marquette Golden Eagles vs #2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12:30pm Central, FS1) - Yeah, that’s right, I’m putting this nationally ranked showdown at the Al McGuire Center on this list. Carolyn Kieger’s Golden Eagles have won their first six home games of the season this year, and they had last year’s eventual national champions on the ropes in overtime in South Bend last season. This qualifies as a homecoming game for ND star Arike Ogunbowale, so the environment on 12th Street should be absolutely bananas.
Saturday, December 22: DePaul Blue Demons vs Boston College (2:30pm Central, FS1) - I’m not entirely sure if Boston College is good this season. They have a home loss to IUPUI, but beat Loyola-Chicago on a neutral and beat Minnesota up in Chestnut Hill. This will be their first true road game of the season, and for a team ticketed to the bottom of the ACC this season, they might be hungry to score a W before that conference slog begins. Of course, the same can be said for DePaul relative to their place in the Big East this season, and racking up a win over a Major Seven squad could be a big deal for them.
Saturday, December 22: Seton Hall Pirates at Maryland Terrapins (4:30pm Central, FS1) - What’s the real Seton Hall team? The one that got cracked by Nebraska and squeaked at home by Saint Louis? Or the one that took down Kentucky in overtime at MSG? Going to the Xfinity Center isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, but Kevin Willard’s Pirates do have a chance to show the rest of the conference that they can not be trifled with this season. The Terps have only lost to Virginia at home and to Purdue on the road this season, so they’ll be a tough test for SHU.
Here’s what’s going on this week!
Big East What To Watch: Week 7
|Tues., Dec. 18||Georgetown vs Appalachian State||5:30 PM||FS1|
|Providence vs Albany||6:00 PM||Fox Sports Regional|
|Xavier at Missouri||6:00 PM||ESPNU|
|Butler vs Presbyterian||7:30 PM||FS1|
|Creighton at Oklahoma||8:00 PM||ESPNU|
|#20 Marquette vs North Dakota||8:00 PM||Fox Sports Regional|
|Wed., Dec. 19||Seton Hall vs Sacred Heart||5:30 PM||FS2|
|St. John's vs St. Francis (NY)||5:30 PM||FS1|
|DePaul vs Incarnate Word||7:30 PM||FS2|
|Thurs., Dec. 20||Creighton vs Coe College||7:00 PM||FS1|
|Fri., Dec. 21||Butler vs UC-Irvine||5:30 PM||FS1|
|Xavier vs Detroit||6:00 PM||FS2|
|#20 Marquette vs #14 Buffalo||7:30 PM||FS1|
|Providence at Texas||8:00 PM||ESPN2|
|Sat., Dec. 22||Georgetown vs Little Rock||11:00 AM||Fox Sports Regional|
|Villanova vs Connecticut (at MSG)||11:30 AM||CBS|
|DePaul vs Boston College||2:30 PM||FS1|
|Seton Hall at Maryland||4:30 PM||FS1|
|St. John's vs Sacred Heart||7:00 PM||FS1|