Last Week in the Big East
Tuesday, February 23
Villanova 81, St. John’s 58
UConn 70, Georgetown 57
Wednesday, February 24
Marquette 83, North Carolina 70
Butler 61, Seton Hall 52
Providence 83, Xavier 68
Creighton 77, DePaul 53
Saturday, February 27
Georgetown 68, DePaul 60
UConn 80, Marquette 62
Xavier 77, Creighton 69
Sunday, February 28
Butler 73, Villanova 61
Player of the Week
R.J. Cole, Connecticut, G, Jr.
Freshman of the Week
Chuck Harris, Butler, G, Fr.
James Bouknight, Connecticut, G, So.
Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton, G, Jr.
Dawson Garcia, Marquette, F, Fr.
David Duke, Providence, G, Jr.
Paul Scruggs, Xavier, G, Sr.
All times Eastern
Tuesday, March 2
Xavier at Georgetown, 7:00, FS1
Marquette at DePaul, 9:00, FS1
Wednesday, March 3
UConn at Seton Hall, 6:30, FS1
Providence at St. John’s, 7:00, CBS Sports
Creighton at Villanova, 8:30, FS1
Saturday, March 6
Georgetown at UConn, 12:00, CBS
Villanova at Providence, 2:30, FOX
Butler at Creighton, 5:00, FOX
Seton Hall at St. John’s, 7:00, FS1
Xavier at Marquette, 9:00, FS1
March is here! Somehow, it’s already the last week of the regular season in the Big East. Let’s take a look at the schedule!
The week starts off with Georgetown hosting Xavier. The Hoyas have already played spoiler against Creighton and Seton Hall. Xavier is coming off a big win over Creighton, but they need to keep the victories coming to stay on the right side of the bubble. Losing at Georgetown wouldn’t doom their tournament hopes, but it would make things far more difficult for Travis Steele. Later Tuesday night, DePaul hosts Marquette in the last regular season game for the Blue Demons. Marquette has wins over Wisconsin, Creighton, and now North Carolina. They also lost at home to DePaul. I don’t think anybody is quite sure what to expect from this one.
Wednesday night’s action opens with a bubbly matchup between UConn and Seton Hall. Mamu scored 22 in a win over the Bouknight-less Huskies in Storrs earlier this season. Dan Hurley will be looking to prove that his team is different with the electric sophomore back in the lineup, while Kevin Willard needs a bounce back performance after losses to Georgetown and Butler. The Pirates’ tournament odds are shakier than ever at the moment. The loser of this one may find themselves on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, St. John’s hosts Providence over on CBS Sports. The Red Storm shot the lights out at Alumni Hall and knocked off the Friars in early February. Since then, they’ve cooled off. Both of these teams are off the bubble, but looking to build some momentum heading into the Big East Tournament. This should be intense.
To cap Wednesday night, it’s the rematch between Villanova and Creighton. The Bluejays blew the doors off the Wildcats the first time. This is my game of the week, so more on this one later.
Saturday is the last day of the season, and with it comes a packed slate. Every team but DePaul will be in action. UConn hosts Georgetown at noon in a can’t-lost game for the Huskies. Next up, it’s Villanova at Providence. The Friars kept things close for a half earlier this season, but then the Wildcats took control in the second half. If Ed Cooley can get back to what worked to start that game, Providence could make things interesting. After that, Butler travels to Omaha to take on Creighton. Butler will be fresh off a win over Villanova, and the Bulldogs already beat Creighton once this season.
The two late games each feature a bubble team going on the road. First, it’s Seton Hall at St. John’s. The Pirates took the first one, but that was way back before Christmas. They can’t afford to split with the Red Storm if they want to be dancing in March. Finally, the last game of the regular season has Xavier travelling to Marquette. This is the second of back-to-back road games to cap the season for the Musketeers. Paul Scruggs led Xavier the first time around with 29 points, but it was the heroics of Adam Kunkel that gave them a 91-88 victory. Xavier saw a March Madness bid disappear last season with two losses in the last week. They’ll be looking to avoid that fate for the second year in a row.
Game of the Week
Wednesday, March 3: 8:30
Creighton at Villanova
How could anything else be the pick here? After the shellacking Creighton gave the Wildcats the first time, everyone is waiting to see how Jay Wright will respond. And oh my was it a shellacking. Creighton exploded for 86 points and led by as many as 21. They hit a higher percentage of their 3-pointers (46.2%) than Villanova did their 2-pointers (43.8%).
Villanova typically responds well after a loss. In the rematch with St. John’s after losing 70-69, the Wildcats came back and dominated the Red Storm from start to finish. Villanova’s 88.4% chance of victory at tip would be as low as it would get all night.
They’re also fresh off a tough performance at Butler. Villanova scored just 61 points in their defeat last time out. It’s hard to see Jay Wright allowing that kind of showing in back-to-back games. There will be no shortage of motivation for the Wildcats coming into this one.
Creighton won’t be lacking in that department, either. They are also coming off a tough road loss at the hands of Xavier. The Bluejays also know that a win on Wednesday puts them in the driver’s seat for the sole Big East regular season title. If they beat Villanova again on Wednesday, then a win against Butler on Saturday is all they’ll need. With the stakes that high, Greg McDermott’s squad should be energized.
These are two good teams, but it’s hard to pick against Villanova. Sorry, Creighton fans. This is the second week in a row I’m predicting a loss for the Bluejays.
Matt’s prediction: Villanova 81, Creighton 75
Here’s what others at BECB had to say:
In the Rankings
With conference standings based on win percentage this year, basically anything can happen between UConn and Marquette in these standings. The seeding for the Big East Tournament will be changing rapidly throughout the week.
Xavier dropped out of the polls this week to be replaced by UConn. In winning percentage, the AP, KenPom, and the NET, the Huskies are in third place in the conference. For the first time all season, a team seems to have a solid grasp on the spot just below Creighton and Villanova.
Stat of the Week
Villanova shot just 2-for-27 from beyond the arc at Butler. That’s a shooting percentage of 7.4%. That’s the lowest number for the Cats in at least a decade, which is as far back as Sports Reference’s game data goes.