Merry Christmas Big East fans! I hope you’ve all done your Christmas shopping already. I know I haven’t. Guess who’s making a mad dash to the store this week to get last minute gifts?
It was a turbulent week in the conference. Big East games are back, as are Covid cancelations. Creighton almost won on a buzzer beater against Arizona State, while the Red Storm fell victim to a last second shot from Pitt. Two ranked Big East teams have already been upset at home in conference play. There’s a lot to talk about this week.
Speaking of, if you’d rather listen to your Big East coverage than read it, we have a new podcast! Every week, we’ll break down the biggest news in the conference.
Things We Loved Last Week
Hawkins shines as Creighton upsets #9 Villanova
Greg McDermott found in a diamond in the rough that is Division-II with Ryan Hawkins who led the way with 19 points against Villanova. The Bluejays have two ranked wins in their last three games.
Durham seals win for Friars
Durham with the strong finish‼️ pic.twitter.com/1Lyx1Obcvf— Providence MBB (@PCFriarsmbb) December 19, 2021
A.J. Reeves got things started for Providence, but it was Al Durham who provided the finishing touch on this victory. At 11-1, the Friars are off to their best start since the Kris Dunn years.
Dwon Odom breaks out
Xavier cruised to an 80-71 victory at home over Marquette, and sophomore Dwon Odom was the biggest reason why. Odom tallied a career-high 19 points, leading all scorers, and hit nearly every shot from the field. That earned him player of the week honors.
In the Rankings
Big East Rankings
After beating UConn on the road, the Friars are now 11-1. They sit in the top fifty in the NET, Torvik, and KenPom. They’re newly ranked at #22. Ed Cooley has this team playing a tough brand of basketball that is generating results, and it’s hard to believe this team was picked to finish seventh in the conference right now. They were even picked by Andy Katz as the team of the week across all of the college basketball.
Losing two road games to Baylor and Creighton isn’t that bad. Losing in the fashion Villanova did in the past week is very bad. The media agrees, dropping Nova from 9 to 23 in the AP poll. Scoring 59 points in a 20-point loss at Creighton was the better of the two performances the Wildcats had. Villanova’s Big East home opener against Xavier will be very telling for where they stand at this point.
Big East Schedule
|Tuesday, January 4|
|Postponed||#22 Xavier at Georgetown|
|8:00 PM||#24 Seton Hall at Butler||CBS Sports Network|
|9:00 PM||#16 Providence at Marquette||FOX Sports 1|
|Wednesday, January 5|
|6:30 PM||DePaul at St. John's||FOX Sports 1|
|8:30 PM||Creighton at #19 Villanova||FOX Sports 1|
|Friday, January 7|
|6:30 PM||Marquette at Georgetown||FOX Sports 1|
|8:30 PM||#22 Xavier at Butler||FOX Sports 1|
|Saturday, January 8|
|12:00 PM||UConn at #24 Seton Hall||FOX|
|12:00 PM||St. John's at #16 Providence||FOX Sports 1|
|2:00 PM||#19 Villanova at DePaul||FOX Sports 1|
It’s a short week in the Big East because of the holiday, and a week made even shorter by some cancelations. Seton Hall and DePaul were forced to forfeit their games against St. John’s and Creighton this Monday.
Tuesday night opens with our game of the week between Xavier and Villanova. After that, Marquette hosts UConn in what should be a very interesting matchup.
Providence hosts Georgetown in the lone game Wednesday night. The Friars are 6-1 in their last seven against the Hoyas at home.
A doubleheader is currently scheduled for Christmas Eve Eve. The first game is Butler at St. John’s, a battle between two teams that have been disappointing thus far. The late game features two programs currently on pause in Seton Hall and DePaul, so it’s anyone’s guess whether that actually gets played or not.
BECB Game of the Week
#18 Xavier at #23 Villanova, 7:00 PM, Tuesday, December 21
Matt St. Jean: Xavier is ascending right now. The Musketeers are 11-1 and have won seven straight. Villanova just suffered their fourth loss of the season to Creighton in a meeting that was not particularly close. Picked to win the conference before the season, the Wildcats are reeling. I know better than to pick against a Jay Wright team with its back against the wall.
Matt’s prediction: Villanova 71, Xavier 61.
Henry Eisenberg: Both teams are trending in opposite directions going into this one. Xavier is riding high off of recent wins against Cincinnati and Marquette, and Nova is coming home after two blowout losses against Baylor and Creighton. Despite these trends, I am going to go with the Wildcats at home. I think that this is an early “prove-it” game for Jay Wright and company, and they will.
Henry’s prediction: Villanova 62, Xavier 55.
Stat of the Week
Who has the most Quad 1 wins in college basketball? The Providence Friars. Ed Cooley is 4-0 against Quad 1 so far this season.