Last Week in the Big East
Tuesday, February 16
UConn 73, Providence 61
St. John’s 93, Xavier 84
Wednesday, February 17
Marquette 73, Butler 57
Seton Hall 60, DePaul 52
Saturday, February 20
Villanova 68, UConn 60
Georgetown 81, Seton Hall 75
DePaul 88, St. John’s 83
Sunday, February 21
Xavier 63, Butler 51
Player of the Week
Charlie Moore, DePaul, G, Sr.
Freshman of the Week
Colby Jones, Xavier, G, Fr.
James Bouknight, Connecticut, G, So.
Jamorko Pickett, Georgetown, F, Sr.
Julian Champagnie, St. John’s, G-F, So.
Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall, F, Sr.
Collin Gillespie, Villanova, G, Sr.
All times Eastern
Tuesday, February 23
St. John’s at Villanova, 8:00, CBS Sports
UConn at Georgetown, 9:00, FS1
Wednesday, February 24
Marquette at North Carolina, 7:00, ESPN2
Seton Hall at Butler, 7:00, CBS Sports
Xavier at Providence, 9:00, FS1
DePaul at Creighton, 9:00, CBS Sports
Saturday, February 27
Georgetown at DePaul, 12:00, FS1
Marquette at UConn, 2:30, FOX
Creighton at Xavier, 5:00, FOX
Sunday, February 28
Villanova at Butler, 12:00, CBS
Just like that, there’s only two weeks left in this anything-but-regular season! Let’s take a look at the slate of games.
St. John’s is in dire need of a win at Villanova. A home loss to DePaul on Saturday all but sunk their season. A sweep of the Wildcats is Mike Anderson’s only hope of making the tournament this year without going through the Big East Tournament. UConn also needs a win to stay on the bubble. Georgetown stands in their way, and the Hoyas look to be putting it together. Don’t look now, but they’ve won four of six, most recently playing spoiler to Seton Hall on Saturday. Could they do it again to another Big East bubble team?
Yes, that’s a non-conference game on the schedule Wednesday night. Marquette is traveling to Chapel Hill in a game scheduled last week. The Tar Heels are in need of a boost to their resume, and the Golden Eagles could be just what they need. An upset win from Marquette would be a nice silver lining on a disappointing season. While they play on ESPN2, Butler will be hosting Seton Hall on CBS Sports. The Pirates need a bounce back win after falling to Georgetown. Their tournament hopes are not in jeopardy at the moment, but that could change with a loss. Mamu and the rest of the gang need to take care of business against a Butler team that has lost three in a row, all by double-digits.
The late slot on Wednesday is headlined by the matchup between Xavier and Providence. Colby Jones hit the buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer to shock the Friars at the Cintas Center in mid-January. Xavier has played only four games since then thanks to two COVID pauses, and the Musketeers need to keep adding wins to bolster a currently very small resume. The Friars always seem to find their best basketball late, and but can they put together enough to derail Paul Scruggs and the Musketeers? Meanwhile, Creighton hosts DePaul. This game should not be close on paper, but the Blue Demons kept things close in Chicago. Maybe Big East Player of the Week Charlie Moore can lead DePaul to a massive upset win.
Saturday opens with Georgetown traveling to DePaul. While neither team has been fantastic this year, these two are relatively evenly matched and always play with high-effort. In the mid-afternoon slot, Dan Hurley and the Huskies look to complete a sweep of Marquette. They got the best of the Golden Eagles in Milwaukee earlier this season, and UConn really can’t afford any more losses now that Bouknight is back. Finally, just before dinner, Xavier hosts Creighton. The Bluejays are a lock for the tournament at this point, and they’ll be playing for seeding in this one. Xavier had a chance against Creighton earlier this season, but they could not hold on to a 22-9 lead in Omaha. Perhaps playing at home will help their chances. Xavier has just a 1-1 record against Quadrant 1 opponents this season, and this game will be their last chance to get another one.
Sunday afternoon features Villanova and Butler. These two first squared off all the way back on December 16, what was then Butler’s second game of the season. Villanova dominated, winning 85-66. KenPom gives Butler just a 29% chance of winning the rematch.
Game of the Week
Saturday, February 27
Creighton at Xavier
For the second week in a row, the Musketeers are in my game of the week. I picked them over St. John’s last time, and they let me down.
The first meeting between Creighton and Xavier is certainly one Travis Steele would like back. The Musketeers led by as many as 13 in the first half before giving up a 20-3 run to the Bluejays. Xavier scored only 61 points that afternoon, their second lowest output of the season.
The Musketeers have posted a 10-2 record at home this season, and they play noticeably better within Cincinnati’s city limits. Creighton is a tough opponent, but I think Xavier will rise to the occasion.
My prediction: Xavier 71, Creighton 65
In the Rankings
These are now ordered by Big East standings, which will be by win percentage this year.
Villanova and Creighton moved up this week, mostly due to teams around them losing. Xavier is still hanging on by a thread at the moment.
Stat of the Week
Christian Bishop has gone on a tear as of late. The junior has scored in double-figures in five straight games. He has shot over 70% in all five and now leads the Big East in shooting percentage by a wide margin. Bishop has made field goals at a 70.5% clip this season. Nate Watson is next at 59.4%.