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Big East Weekend Preview

VUSports takes a quick look at the weekend slate of games in the Big East Conference ...

There are four games to be contested in the Big East this weekend as the closing two weeks of the regular season schedule rush upon us:

SATURDAY

Villanova

at Seton Hall 12:30 PM

FOX

Xavier

at Marquette 8:00 PM

CBS Sports Network

SUNDAY

Butler

vs DePaul 1:30 PM

FS1

Creighton

vs Georgetown 3:30 PM

FS1

Click Here for the VUSports Villanova at Seton Hall preview

Xavier at Marquette

This is an intriguing game for several of reasons.   Marquette is looking for a win that will improve the Golden Eagles' NCAA Tournament resume.  Currently ranked 41st by kenpom but only 81st in RPI, Marquette needs to try to finish above .500 in the Big East and to grab another signature win or two in the process.  Prime opportunities include this game at home against Xavier, at Xavier on March 1st, and when hosting Creighton on March 4th.  To date, the Golden Eagles have earned Top 50 RPI wins at home against Villanova and Seton Hall and on the road against Georgia and Creighton.  The other two remaining games on their Big East docket for Marquette are at home against St. John's and at Providence. Oddly, after grabbing a win over then #1 ranked, Villanova at home and appearing to have "found themselves", the Golden Eagles lost to Providence and St. John's to start a 1-4 slump that they remain mired in entering Saturday's game against the Musketeers.  Sitting at 15-10 overall, 6-7 in the Big East, and projected to finish 9-9 Big East, the time is now for Marquette to bounce back ... and Xavier may be ripe for the picking.

Xavier has been reeling of late due to injuries to Edmund Sumner and Trevon Bluiett.  Ranked 16th in RPI and 30th in kenpom, the Musketeers bring the look of a resume-boosting win to bear while being a team that is playing far short of that level at this stage due to the injuries.  First, Xavier had to adjust to the loss of point guard, Edmund Sumner for the season, then star wing, Trevon Bluiett injured his ankle and the Musketeers have lost two straight with a hobbled or missing primary scorer.  At 18-8 overall and 8-5 in league play, Xavier can take some losses without damaging more than their current projected NCAA 7 Seed ... but the possibility of being a double-figure seed after being ranked in the Top 10 earlier in the campaign would have to be a disappointment to Musketeer fans.  Of course, it is extremely difficult for any team to lose their top two starters and not be significantly impacted.

Don't expect this one to be a defensive struggle.  Unless Bluiett makes an amazing recovery, expect Marquette to take care of business at home and take another step towards a possible NCAA bid.  For the Golden Eagles to win, they will need to defend the three-point line and be highly competitive on the glass.  Marquette struggles to play a solid 40 minutes of defense and Xavier is a good rebounding team.

Butler vs. DePaul

So, this one is at Hinkle ... and Butler still has a shot at a league title ... and DePaul has lost nine straight and has nothing to play for.  The Bulldogs take the Demons to "pound town" in this one.

Creighton vs. Georgetown

These two teams met on January 25th in D.C. and a Hoya team that was 1-6 in the league at that stage scratched out a big win and restored hope that they could salvage something out of the Big East season.  Georgetown played great defense and got quality performances out of L.J. Peak, Rodney Pryor and Jessie Govan to hammer the Blue Jays, 71-51.  The Hoyas dominated the boards in the first contest while Creighton shot an abysmal 1-19 from beyond the three-point line.  Creighton was still reeling from the loss of Maurice Watson and trying to find a way to move forward.

The Blue Jays, projected as a 5 Seed in the NCAAs, did notch a quality win at Butler since the loss of Watson but are coming off a tough road loss at Seton Hall.  Well positioned at 21-5 overall and 8-5 in the Big East, Creighton is in no way desperate for a win.  Georgetown (14-12, 5-8) needs a minor miracle down the stretch just to get to 9-9 in the league.  Though some pundits have them on the NCAA bubble, the Hoyas are projected to finish 7-11 in the Big East.  Only three of the remaining Georgetown BE games are potentially quality wins - at Creighton, at Seton Hall and at home against Villanova.  Georgetown has had some success on the road with wins over Syracuse, Butler, and DePaul ... a win at Creighton could propel them to a strong league finish.

Both teams are good, not great, defensive squads.  Georgetown holds teams to a low FG% but doesn't create turnovers nor keep teams from grabbing offensive boards very well.  Creighton allows their opponents to shoot a higher percentage but creates more turnovers and doesn't foul much.  Creighton is even worse at defensive rebounding than the Hoyas.  On offense, Creighton has the advantage, even without Maurice Watson, and the Blue Jays are highly unlikely to shoot 5.6% from beyond the arc again given the rematch is in Omaha.  A stat to keep an eye on in this game is which team is scoring more from the FT line - the Hoyas figure to have the advantage in this area.  If the Blue Jays keep that close and shoot close to their normal percentages from the floor, they should tuck this win in their back pocket.


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