Happy New Year Big East fans!
You made it! 2022 is here! Much to the chagrin of my girlfriend, my New Year’s resolution was to watch even more Big East basketball.
Creighton and Marquette wasted no time in making it entertaining, titillating us all with their 2OT thriller on New Year’s Day. Seton Hall and Villanova went back and forth after that, and Providence throttled DePaul to give us all a sense of that return to normalcy.
Catch an in-depth analysis on all of last week’s action in our podcast!
Things We Loved Last Week
Alex O’Connell’s heroics
As called on Creighton radio: pic.twitter.com/IGTYsQTLSO— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 1, 2022
Usually, when a team rallies from a large deficit and takes the lead in overtime, especially at home, the road team doesn’t have the energy to respond. Alex O’Connell, with a little help from Shaka Smart in the form of not fouling up three, was the exception.
Simas Shows Out
A big 1st half and two crucial FTs in the last seconds: Simas Lukošius shined in his Big East debut as Butler's leading scorer in a 63-59 win over DePaul. So much poise and nice looking buckets for the Lithuanian freshman.— CBB Europe (@CBB_Europe) December 30, 2021
15 PTS - 3/5 2P - 2/4 3P - 3/3 FT - 4 REB - 1 AST pic.twitter.com/JXNs76awf1
Butler’s Simas Lukosius earned freshman of the week honors with a strong performance in their win over DePaul.
Two Big Men, Two Double-doubles
Two different big men for Providence tallied double-doubles this week. Noah Horchler drilled a career high five threes in the win over Seton Hall on Wednesday, finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Then, Justin Minaya followed that up with 12 points and 11 rebounds at DePaul on Saturday.
When I asked Minaya about sharing time with Horchler, his immediate smile says it all.
I asked Justin Minaya about playing with Noah Horchler after they had back-to-back double-doubles.— Matt St. Jean (@mattstdream) January 1, 2022
He talked about how he loves the competitive nature the two of them have about rebounding. pic.twitter.com/6SFWLtjkla
Ed Cooley, motivational speaker
If Providence coach Ed Cooley ever leaves coaching, he has a bright future as a motivational speaker. Who wasn’t fired up after this?
In the Rankings
Big East Rankings
Providence Friars: Ed Cooley has the Friars as the top Big East team in the AP poll after consecutive quality wins this week. This is clearly the best Providence team since the Kris Dunn years.
Villanova Wildcats: Against Xavier, it was Eric Dixon. At Seton Hall, Brandon Slater rose to the occasion. Much maligned to start the season, Villanova’s forwards have played much better recently.
DePaul Blue Demons: The loss at Butler without David Jones is excusable. But an 0-2 start to Big East play is not good, especially when considering that the team trailed 42-14 at one point at home against Providence.
Marquette Golden Eagles: Watching this team, you’d have no idea they haven’t won a game since December 8th. Marquette has four consecutive losses, three of which came at home. This team has shown they can compete with good opponents, but the wins haven’t come as of late.
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|
Georgetown and St. John’s are both currently scheduled to play their first Big East games of the season this week, with St. John’s set to host DePaul on Wednesday and Georgetown to welcome Marquette to the nation’s capital on Friday.
This week could be a challenging one for the Big East’s ranked teams, all of whom have to play on the road. #24 Seton Hall and #16 Providence travel to Butler and Marquette, respectively, on Tuesday night. Both Hinkle Fieldhouse and Fiserv Forum are notoriously tough venues for opponents. Seton Hall and Marquette will both be trying to end losing streaks, while Providence has won eight in a row and Butler opened Big East play with a win last week.
Both ranked teams return home to face unranked opponents in UConn and St. John’s this Saturday. Seton Hall will get a UConn team fresh off a COVID pause. The Friars face a Red Storm team that has given them fits ever since Mike Anderson was hired.
Butler and Marquette will return to action on Friday night. Marquette heads to Georgetown in their conference opener, while Butler hosts another ranked foe. This time, they get a Xavier team that won’t have played since losing to Villanova on December 21st. The Bulldogs struggled before conference play, but this week offers them an opportunity to make some noise.
After St. John’s against DePaul on Wednesday night, #19 Villanova hosts a Creighton team that already defeated them by 20 in Omaha. Will the Wildcats be able to return the favor?
Villanova and DePaul cap the week’s action, meeting in Chicago on Saturday afternoon. Could this road trip be a trap situation for Villanova? They haven’t lost to DePaul since 2008.
BECB Game of the Week
UConn at #24 Seton Hall, 12:00 PM, Saturday, January 8
This is tough to predict considering we have no idea which players will be available for Dan Hurley. The winner of this game will likely be ranked next Monday, so the stakes are high. At full strength, this should be a relatively even matchup. With the unknowns and what should be a highly motivated Seton Hall squad, I’m sticking with the home team.
My prediction: Seton Hall 70, UConn 55.
Stat of the Week
You’re getting two stats for the price of one today, and they both have something in common: 7. That’s how many steals Butler’s Aaron Thompson recorded against DePaul, a career high. It’s also the number of blocks Nick Ongenda had against the Friars on Saturday.