"If you are going to be in a power conference like we are, you have to schedule a lot of home games (before the Big East starts)," said Marquette Coach Tom Crean. "You have to have games on your schedule that you feel pretty good about winning. They give you the opportunity to have the numbers you have to have at the end of the year."
Though the 10-1 record may be nice, Marquette will no doubt be judged on their body of work from January through March. 14 of the 16 Big East teams carry winning records into conference play while four teams have lost just one game. Pittsburgh sits atop the standings at 11-0.
"We are right there with a lot of other (teams)," added Crean when asked to evaluate his team's start. "The teams in the Big East have played relatively the same kind of schedule- guarantee home games with a few home and homes mixed in. I am anxious to see the energy of the building really go up with the Big East. That will be fun."
Crean also highlighted the depth of the Big East as one of the conference's strong points this season. #23 West Virginia begins conference play at 10-1 after being picked to finish 10th in the Big East. Despite losing All Big East center Aaron Gray, undefeated Pittsburgh has been a surprise along with Seton Hall (8-3) and South Florida (8-4).
Now the real games begin for the Golden Eagles, who host Providence in their Big East opener on January 3rd. Last season, the Friars and Marquette split with each team holding serve on their home court. Providence defeated Marquette to tip off last year's Big East season, holding the Golden Eagles to just 59 points in Rhode Island.
"I think Providence will put a lot of points on the board," Crean said. "I ranked them right near the top of the conference when I had a chance to vote at the beginning of the year."