Hey all! I’m Rob Mailley, and this is my first post for The Front Office! I’m a freshman in college, and since my school doesn’t have much of a basketball presence, I mostly focus on Georgetown basketball. My parents went there, and I’ve been going to games since I was smaller than Pantelis. I’ll be writing a weekly Big East Roundup, with the teams in ranked order of worst to best with a recap on their week, and at the end a section on what to look out for in the week ahead.
This year, DePaul is Not Good. It doesn’t help that most of their non-conference games were cancelled due to virus issues, so they’ve only played 6 games at this point. They were supposed to play Georgetown on the 13th, and cancelling that matchup may have been a good thing for the sport of basketball. That being said, they did give UConn a run for their money before the Huskies rallied to beat them by 7.
Georgetown shows flashes of brilliance every so often, but with the roster they have this year, it doesn’t happen much. They have a potential all Big East center in Qudus Wahab, but he remains raw and inexperienced. The majority of their points-scored come from seniors Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett. Pickett seems like he should be a much larger contributor than he is — he has so much potential to be a premier Big East player. But the only entity that consistently fails to deliver in key moments more than he does is the Postal Service around the holidays. Unless he can figure how to get out of his own head and step up, he’ll have to watch the tournament on TV like the rest of us.
St. Johns almost had the strength to power through Marquette on Saturday and had 2 chances to even the score in the last 20 seconds. Interestingly enough, they opted not to feed the ball to Champagnie. This could have been a strategic blunder or a gamble that failed to pay off. I’m willing to give Mike Anderson the benefit of the doubt here and assume they were trying to draw attention to Champagnie, the Johnnies’ top scorer. Still, Marquette had 19 turnovers, and St. Johns should have been able to capitalize.
Butler recorded their season’s biggest win against Creighton Saturday. Some of that win you can chalk up to Hinkle Magic, but Butler is a better team than they let on. Going on a 17-2 run against the #8 team in the country, especially a team known for their shooting, is damn impressive. Butler is for sure a team to keep your eye on — Lavall Jordan is building something special in Indianapolis. Freshman guards Chuck Harris and Myles Tate are going to be dangerous in the Big East.
Providence hasn’t been on the hottest streak recently. They’ve lost their past 3 (admittedly tough) games and missed an opportunity to play Georgetown to Covid Issues. That would have been a nice morale booster for the Friars, and the next two games are the polar opposite of what that game would have been — away battles against top tier Big East teams, so I don’t expect much from them in the near future. To be truthful, I don’t expect much from them in the far future either. Team scoring leader David Duke’s draft stock has rocketed up this season, and it’s pretty fair to say that if he continues to play the way he does he’ll go in the top half of the first round. With senior center Nate Watson on the way out and the worst recruiting class in the Big East per 24/7, Providence should stay fairly mid.
Marquette this year is a very different team without national scoring leader Markus Howard, and is understandably adjusting to playing without its 5’11” bucket machine. Still, they returned a few key players and recruited Dawson Garcia, a 6’11” forward to keep your eye on. As I mentioned above, they almost fell to St. Johns Saturday on turnovers. Wojo’s team should have enough gas in the tank to power through an easy next 4 as they look to stay in the bubble conversation (now we’re high enough in the rankings I can talk brackets!)
Xavier kind of got spared from 2 tough games – vs Villanova and at Seton Hall. Their next game isn’t easy either — They have to travel to Storrs to take on the Huskies. With that said, a Xavier dub isn’t totally out of the picture. Sophomore forward Zach Freemantle is legitimate, and with UConn’s injuries Xavier could pull it out. A win like that would put them even closer into tourney contention.
Seton Hall may have beaten DePaul by 8, but they’ll have to do more to atone for losing to Creighton by 36. A road win at Nova Tuesday night would do that and much more. It would catapult the Pirates into the national conversation and into second place in the conference. Having a higher win percentage than Nova doesn’t mean much considering the year we’ve had, but it would be a huge confidence boost for the pirates. If Mamu gets cooking, it could happen — but I wouldn’t bet on it. Hall isn’t the team they were last year, but they still are looking to prove they belong in the top tier of the big east.
Creighton’s loss to Butler Saturday was ugly — there’s just no other way to put it. There’s no reason that the Bluejays should have gone frosty down the stretch and let Butler drop 13 in a row to push the game into OT. That said, it’s a blemish on what has been an impressive season. They beat UConn and then 22-ranked Xavier and lost by one to Kansas. Creighton has the pieces in place. We’ll see what that means in March.
The Huskies are legit this year. Even without star guard James Bouknight, they’ve won their past two games convincingly, and they should roll over St. Johns tonight. Their next true test comes at Creighton Saturday, but with Bouknight out indefinitely, it’s hard to see a path to victory.
Even though they haven’t played since Christmas Eve Eve, this team is clearly the strongest in the Big East. They’re 3 and 0 in Big East play, winning by at least ten every time. Jay Wright’s most impressive dub here was an away victory against the best Texas team since Durant, with sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earle shooting 64% from the field. JRE is the centerpiece of their offense, with prototypical glue-guy Colin Gillespie running the point and the rest of the wildcats making the contributions they need to make Nova the clear favorite to win the Big East.
Games to watch:
Tuesday: Seton Hall at Villanova 9:00 PM FS1
Saturday: UConn at Creighton 2:30 PM FOX