With Christmas and Covid, it was a short week in the Big East this time around. There were only two games, both on Tuesday. Because of that, this will be a shorter edition of this article.
The conference did change the cancellation policy, voiding all of the forfeits from the past week. You can read more about it here, but you’ll notice the changes in the standings below.
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Things We Loved Last Week
Collin Gillespie did Collin Gillespie things
Villanova trailed by ten in the first half. To open the second half, they rallied to take the lead. Then Collin Gillespie did what he’s done for so long at Villanova by hitting the dagger three with a hand in his face to put the game out of reach. The Wildcats returned to the form people expected of them before the season in this pivotal victory.
Huskies bounce back
Tyrese Martin scored a career-high 25 points at Marquette, and R.J. Cole added 20 points of his own to give UConn a much-needed win. The Huskies dropped out of the polls after losing to Providence at home, but they bounced back in stellar fashion against tough competition. Shaka Smart has a stud in Justin Lewis as well. Keep an eye on the Golden Eagles.
In the Rankings
Big East Rankings
Despite the win at Marquette, UConn received less votes this week. Xavier dropped behind Providence and Villanova in the logjam after their loss, but that’s it for Big East changes.
With how little basketball was played last week, no stock rising or stock falling this week.
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|
[Editor’s Note: UConn vs. Xavier, Temple vs. Villanova, and Marquette vs. St. John’s have all been postponed in the time since this article was drafted]
The last week of 2021 opens with Xavier hosting UConn, a game that could easily be the game of the week in any other week. As far as bounce back games go, UConn is pretty low on the list of opponents Travis Steele probably had in mind for his team after losing to Villanova. But it’s how the schedule shakes out, and this will be a high stakes battle at the Cintas Center.
Wednesday night has a full slate, headlined by a ranked battle at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center between the Friars and the Pirates. The last time the Dunk hosted a game between two ranked teams was February 6, 2016, when #11 Providence hosted #3 Villanova. (Fun fact: yours truly was at that game). The Friars will be hoping for a different result than they had that day when they lost to the eventual national champion.
In their first meeting last year, A.J. Reeves hit the late three to win a thriller. The rematch was a one-sided affair, with Seton Hall holding the Friars to 43 points at home. This one should be similar to the second meeting, which was a low scoring, grind it out game. Seton Hall defends the three well, and they also don’t shoot it well. Both teams get more than 20 percent of their points from the charity stripe. This game will be played in the paint and should be a physical one. Tune in for some old school Big East ball.
If you prefer a higher scoring basketball game, St. John’s hosts Marquette that same night. These teams are the top two in tempo in the conference, and both are in the top 15 nationally. Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart both like their teams to play fast and get out in transition, which should make this an exciting battle. Whatever your brand of basketball, Wednesday night will have something for you.
DePaul and Butler both play their first conference games that night as their games last week got postponed, so that will be something to monitor. And Villanova has their annual meeting with Temple.
Ring in 2022 in style on Saturday by laying on the couch and watching six straight hours of Big East basketball. If your New Year’s resolution was to watch more college hoops, you’re in luck. Georgetown and St. John’s make their entrance to conference play for the season, and Creighton and Marquette square off at noon. At 2:00, It’s the game of the week between Seton Hall and Villanova and DePaul hosting Providence. The afternoon wraps up with UConn welcoming Butler to the XL Center at 4:00.
BECB Game of the Week
#22 Villanova at #15 Seton Hall, 2:00 PM, Saturday, January 1
Matt St. Jean: This is a really tough matchup for the Wildcats. Seton Hall has a very stingy defense that does not let you shoot from the outside. While Villanova proved they can beat you from the inside against Xavier, Kevin Willard’s defense has been even more efficient. When you add in that Seton Hall will be playing at home, I have to pick them in this one.
Matt’s prediction: Seton Hall 67, Villanova 61.
Henry Eisenberg: This game is pretty much a coin flip. I still have the belief that you can’t pick against the top team. Right now, the top team is Villanova. They proved that last week against Xavier and they are going to prove it again on Saturday in the Prudential Center.
Henry’s prediction: Villanova 75, Seton Hall 69.
Stat of the Week
Georgetown freshman Aminu Mohammed was picked to win Big East Freshman of the Year. Entering the last week of 2021, he leads all Big East players in rebounds per game as a guard. Mohammed has posted double-doubles in five of his eleven games as a college athlete. He has lived up the hype.