Three weeks remain in the Big East regular season and the table is set for an entertaining finish to the season.
Villanova, Xavier, Creighton and Butler still have eyes towards winning the regular season championship. Six teams are currently projected to make appearances in the NCAA Tournament and Georgetown still has an opportunity to make a run for it. Five teams are bunched within two games of each other in the struggle to finish in 5th place (and avoid ending up 9th) - two of those five teams (Marquette, Seton Hall, St. John’s. Providence, Georgetown) will avoid playing a Wednesday Big East Tournament game and having to face the #1 or #2 seed on Thursday at Madison Square Garden … the other three will join DePaul, playing on Wednesday in New York.
Big East standings and schedule for Saturday :
Game 1: Marquette beat the Hoyas, 76-66, at home in the Big East opener for both teams back in December. Since that time, the two teams have trended in different directions. Georgetown started the league 0-4 and has since split 8 games to reach 4-8. Despite the record, the Hoyas have secured several high quality wins. A strong finish could still place them in the NCAA field given the weakness of the bubble. The Golden Eagles have been erratic but a pleasant surprise after starting out 1-2 in the league. This figures to be a tightly-contested game. A loss for the Hoyas puts them in a pickle … Georgetown would have to sweep five remaining Big East games just to finish .500 in the league. In the first meeting between the two teams it was Markus Howard, JaJuan Johnson and Andrew Rousey that led Marquette to victory. Rodney Pryor and Marcus Derrickson were the most impactful Hoyas. Georgetown should look to get Derrickson more touches this game given Marquette doesn't match-up well with him.
Game 2: The Seton Hall - St. John’s rivalry is a fun one and this game has all the markings of a dog-fight. The upstart, Johnnies lost at Seton Hall by 13 in mid-January - they look to exact some revenge and jump the Pirates in the standings with a win. Seton Hall is clinging to a projected 11 seed in the NCAAs. Ideally, they would like to scrape back to at least .500 in the BE standings to increase the likelihood of locking up a bid without having to do too much “heavy-lifting” in the Big East Tournament. In the first meeting, St. John’s had no answer for Angel Delgado. Kassoum Yakwe and Tariq Owens need to play much better in the paint this go-around for St. John’s to grab a win.
Game 3: This is the most lopsided game of the day ... on paper. Even without Mo Watson, Creighton handled DePaul in Omaha two weeks ago in a 17 point win. DePaul is playing for some semblance of pride but not much else at this point. Creighton is projected as a 5 Seed in the NCAA Tournament and has motivation to protect that seed.
Game 4: Here is a link to VUSports’ detailed preview of Villanova - Xavier. The Cats could make a huge step toward the league championship with a win by creating a 2.5 game lead in the standings (and clinching the tie-breaker with Xavier). A win by Xavier would narrow the Wildcat lead to a half game.
Game 5: The “night-cap” game could end up being the most wild of the bunch. “The Dunk” is never a fun place for visitors as is - the atmosphere at a Saturday afternoon game in Providence is likely to fueled by some Friar fans that fully enjoyed pre-game festivities. Butler won by 17 at Hinkle over Providence earlier this season behind a very balanced offensive attack and a great, team, defensive effort. The Friars got solid games from their stars, Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock but much of nothing from anyone else offensively. Buildings don’t win games, players do and Butler seems to have the edge in both talent and team play heading into this match-up.