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Big East What To Watch: Week Nine

League play is officially off and running.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

We got two Big East conference games on Saturday, but for the remaining six teams in the league, everything gets started this week. Things have officially already gone bonkers after Seton Hall wiped out a 10 point deficit with 6:35 to play to beat St. John’s on Saturday and hand the Red Storm their first loss of the season. Did the Pirates get to take advantage of what was at best a very weird refereeing situation with three seconds left to hit the game winning triple! Sure did! Did the Johnnies gag the game away long before that? Sure did! We’re two games into the 90 game conference schedule and one fanbase is already incredibly pissed off! What else could happen in the next 88??

Let’s dive into the high points of the coming week.

Monday, December 31: Creighton Bluejays at Providence Friars (3pm Central, FS1) - As of Sunday morning, KenPom lists Villanova as the projected regular season champion in the Big East at 12-6. There are two teams projected at 11-7 right behind the Wildcats...... and the Bluejays are one of them. With the Big East’s current worst Adjusted Defensive Efficiency on KenPom, Creighton might have trouble stopping a slowly rolling kickball at this point, but their offense is crazy legit. They have to go into Rhode Island to face a Friars squad that will have had 10 days off since beating Texas in Austin to wrap up non-con action, and that was without freshman phenom AJ Reeves who still won’t be ready to go for this one.

Tuesday, January 1: #16 Marquette Golden Eagles at St. John’s Red Storm (6pm Central, FS1) - Hey, would you look at that! The Red Storm’s reward for not passing their first serious test of the season is getting to host the only ranked team in the conference. Fun! The Johnnies were one of the final five remaining unbeaten teams in the country before Saturday night, but that’s out the door now. They’re faced with the proposition of needing to shut down All-Fireball First Teamer Markus Howard in order to avoid dropping to 0-2 to start of Big East action. For the Golden Eagles, this will be their league opener and a significant test of their status as the best team in the league based on results in non-conference play. Can they avoid letting Shamorie Ponds flip the God Mode switch and leave New York City with a win?

Friday, January 4: #24 DePaul Blue Demons at #20 Marquette Golden Eagles (7pm Central, FS1) - When the women’s basketball co-favorites for this season meet up in the third game of the league slate, it’s a big deal. When they’re both ranked, it’s an even bigger deal. When DePaul lost their league opener to Creighton on Saturday afternoon, this one became an even bigger deal. Depending on what happens in game #2 for both squads on Monday afternoon (Creighton comes to Milwaukee after that win over the Blue Demons!), Marquette could have the opportunity to take a two game lead in the standings on the team that was expected to challenge them all season long for the regular season title. Toss in a nice sprinkling of Allazia Blockton’s availability being questionable at best after leaving Saturday’s conference opener after just eight minutes, as well as this game taking place at the McGuire Center in Milwaukee, and you’ve got a recipe for a very fascinating game.

Saturday, January 5: Creighton Bluejays at Butler Bulldogs (11am Central, FS1) - Hey, remember all of that stuff I said about Creighton as potential challenger for the Big East crown earlier? Well, they get to follow up the trip to Providence with a trip to Butler! The Bulldogs were in the “can they challenge for the league title” conversation up through the first eight minutes against Florida on Saturday when the Gators opened up a 21-0 lead against a BU team that beat them 61-54 in the Battle 4 Atlantis earlier this year. Needless to say, we’ve got a question or two about Butler now. The Bulldogs will get two cracks to win home games this week, as this one follows up their league opener against Georgetown on Wednesday.

Saturday, January 5: Villanova Wildcats at Providence Friars (1pm Central, Fox) - There’s two possibilities for the importance for this game for Villanova. First: They beat DePaul at The Finn easily on Wednesday, making this game their first true test in league play after having a very rough non-con slate. Second: They somehow figure out how to lose to DePaul and are suddenly faced with the proposition of needing to beat the Friars on the road in order to avoid an 0-2 start. I know, you’re currently saying “dude, they aren’t losing to DePaul,” but let me remind you: They lost at home to Furman and lost in Philly to Penn and, on top of that, remember their league opener 2016-17? DePaul led with four minutes left, and Billy Garrett missed a game-tying three at the buzzer in The Finn. Oh, and don’t forget the part where the Friars might be trying to avoid 0-2 as well if Creighton turns into a wrecking ball..... or maybe they’re aiming at 2-0 with two home games to start things off.

Here’s the full rundown for the week. Enjoy!

Big East What To Watch Week 9

Date Game Time (CT) Television
Date Game Time (CT) Television
Monday, Dec. 31 Creighton at Providence 3:00 PM FS1
Tuesday, Jan. 1 #16 Marquette at St. John's 6:00 PM FS1
Wednesday, Jan. 2 Seton Hall at Xavier 5:30 PM FS1
Georgetown at Butler 6:00 PM Fox Sports Regional
DePaul at Villanova 7:30 PM FS1
Saturday, Jan. 5 Creighton at Butler 11:00 AM FS1
St. John's at Georgetown 12:00 PM CBS
Villanova at Providence 1:00 PM Fox
Sunday, Jan. 6 Xavier at #16 Marquette 11:00 AM Fox
Seton Hall at DePaul 12:00 PM FS1