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NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Villanova

This Week in the Big East: 2/22-2/28

What you need to know this week!

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Honor Roll

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.

The Schedule

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

Rankings as of February 22

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%.

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