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Big East What To Watch: Week Nine

Nine men’s games scheduled to keep an eye on this week.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Taxslayer Gator Bowl - Indiana v Tennessee
The UConn women are scheduled to play Tennessee this week, so we’re using a picture of Smokey.
Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is being written before Monday’s new Associated Press top 25 poll, as we have a Monday AFTERNOON game to pay attention to this week. We’ll update the rankings that you see here as needed once the new poll is out in the afternoon.

Let’s get into the notable games of the week, shall we?

UPDATE: Xavier/UConn is OFF.

Butler-Seton Hall is OFF.

St. John’s-Utah Valley is ON.

Tuesday, January 19th: Seton Hall Pirates at #3 Villanova Wildcats (8pm Central, FS1) — If this was only Seton Hall’s first game in 10 days due to various postponements, it would still be notable on the schedule. However, that’s not the case. This is also Villanova’s first game since — and this is not a joke — December 23rd. Remember when they beat Marquette? Yeah, they haven’t played since. MU has played four games in the meantime. Villanova has been on two separate COVID breaks, as they ended one and immediately started a second on the next day. It will have been nearly a month since the Wildcats played a game and with essentially two straight halts in activity in there, we have no idea how ready Villanova is to play a game at this point. They’re going to have almost zero regular continuity with each other after all that time off, but they’re still clearly the best team in the league. Will that be enough to get them through a home game against Sandro Mamukelashvili and friends?

Wednesday, January 20th: Xavier Musketeers at #23 Connecticut Huskies (7:30pm Central, CBS Sports Network) — I’m pointing this one out because of the doubt involved. On January 14th, four days ago as you’re reading this, Xavier announced that their Saturday game at Seton Hall was postponed due to a XU coronavirus issue. This game, six days after that announcement.... is not postponed. At least not right now. That’s very confusing. I’m not entirely sure why that’s the case, particularly when the Connecticut state health department has been pretty cautious in terms of what they are and are not allowing. I don’t see how the state will allow the Musketeers to travel in for this game just six days after they announced that they have some sort of virus problem..... but after multiple days of silence on the topic, it certainly seems like this game is happening. With James Bouknight undergoing elbow surgery to correct the issue caused by Koby McEwen landing on his arm in a scrum on January 5th, I’m sure the Huskies aren’t going to be too broken up if they have to postpone a game until their best scorer is back in the lineup, though......

Thursday, January 21: #3 Connecticut Huskies at #25 Tennessee Volunteers (6pm Central, ESPN) — Yep, we’re highlighting the UConn women’s team here, and not just because they’re scheduled to play a non-conference ranked team. The Huskies have not quite played the difficult non-conference schedule that they want to play, or even the one that they wanted to play. They have had games against Louisville (currently #2 in the country) and Baylor (#6) cancelled on them due to various COVID reasons this season. This is their third try at a high quality non-con game, and thanks to UT’s loss to Georgia last week, the Vols might not even be ranked when this game rolls around. This will be game #2 in a three game week for UConn, as they’ll host Butler on Tuesday and Georgetown on Saturday.

Saturday, January 23: #23 Connecticut Huskies at #11 Creighton Bluejays (1:30pm Central, Fox) — It’s the biggest game of the week in terms of both teams being ranked, well, at least ranked in last week’s poll as I write this up before Monday’s new AP top 25. Connecticut won their only game last week, so they shouldn’t drop out of the poll, but there’s always a risk when you’re the #25 team. This is a rematch of Connecticut’s first game back in the Big East, which happened back on December 20th in Storrs. That one went to overtime, but it went there because Creighton forced it there. Can the Huskies prevail in the second go-round now that they’re familiar with the Bluejays? Will Marcus Zegarowski miss this game after sitting out the last two with a hamstring injury? We already know that Connecticut is expecting to be without James Bouknight after he had elbow surgery last week.

Saturday, January 23: DePaul Blue Demons at Marquette Golden Eagles (5pm Central, FS1) — The Golden Eagles have won three of their last four games to go from 1-3 in the Big East to 4-4. Heck, just looking at where they were after the Connecticut game — 6-6 overall, losses in four of their last five — and comparing it to now — 8-6, winners of three of four — it’s a wildly different position. After Saturday’s action in the Big East, Marquette is sitting in sixth place in the league standings. Generally speaking, the top half of the conference is going to make the NCAA tournament every year. With 11 teams now with UConn as a member, that means five or six teams. If Marquette is good enough to be a top half team, then they’re good enough to be an NCAA tournament team..... and NCAA tournament teams do not find themselves handing teams like DePaul their first conference victory of the year. This is Marquette’s only game of the week, while the Blue Demons have to have a rock fight with Butler on Tuesday before coming to Milwaukee.

Here’s the full schedule for the week as we know it on Sunday. If something changes, then pipe up in the comments to make sure that we can get the table accurate all week long.

Big East MBB Schedule: Week 9

Date Game Time (CT) Television
Date Game Time (CT) Television
Mon., Jan. 18 St. John's at #23 Connecticut 1:30 PM Fox
Tues., Jan. 19 Butler at DePaul 6:00 PM CBS Sports Network
Seton Hall at #3 Villanova 8:00 PM FS1
Wed., Jan. 20 Xavier at #25 Connecticut 7:30 PM CBS Sports Network
Providence at #11 Creighton 6:00 PM FS1
Fri., Jan. 22 Seton Hall at Butler 8:00 PM FS1
Sat., Jan. 23 #23 Connecticut at #11 Creighton 11:00 AM Fox
Providence at #3 Villanova 1:30 PM Fox
St. John's vs Utah Valley 3:00 PM FS1
DePaul at Marquette 5:00 PM FS1