Well. I did not exactly get off to a hot start in the take department last week.
UConn should roll over St. Johns tonight…Rob Mailley, 1/18/2020
Yeah right. No sooner had I posted that, UConn fell to St. Johns 74-70. It’s the Big East. You Just Can’t Predict it.
Anyways, I’m going to structure this blog a little differently going forward. Instead of official standings, I’m going to order the teams by my own power rankings, and like last time I’ll give a little blurb on the team’s game (if they didn’t all get cancelled) and any important team news.
Now, without any further ado, welcome back for another recap of Big East Basketball.
Another week has passed, and DePaul has not gotten any better against any team but Marquette. Last week, they beat Valparaiso, which also holds the dubious honor of holding the worst record in their conference, so we’re not really talking about a Clash of the Titans here. Romeo Weems put up 20 then, but he could only manage 2 on 1-8 shooting against Butler in their 67-53 loss to Butler on Tuesday. DePaul folded with 15 minutes to go in the 1st half, and couldn’t put up any semblance of a fight from that point onwards.
We saw a totally different team, however, on Saturday. They beat Marquette in a close game off of performances from Javon Freeman-Liberty and Charlie Moore. Special kudos to Moore, who went 10/10 from the charity stripe, and on that note, the team got a lot of points of fouls. Depaul normally scores 15% of their points from the line, but Saturday they scored 25%. This is as much of a praise of them for drawing fouls and hitting free throws as it is an indictment of Marquette for racking up 19 fouls. Oh well. Whatever special juju magic DePaul can conjure up against Marquette — it works.
Georgetown has been on coronavirus-related pause for a hot minute, and they’ll be stuck in limbo until at least the 30th when they, God willing, travel to Providence. That means that I’ll have had about two and a half weeks to delude myself into thinking the Hoyas can maybe possibly cover the spread. With Depaul getting their first Big East win, Georgetown can’t even claim to be the best of the worst.
Not much New in the Butler department this week. They handled DePaul convincingly on Tuesday, shooting 50 and 37 from the field and 3 respectively. A textbook performance from the Bulldogs, who’ll look to keep rolling against UConn tomorrow. Definitely a game to watch.
St. John’s played one game this week, a kind of weird mid-season buy game against Utah Valley, the kind of game you would only see this year. Oh well. at least they got to play. It was a close game until it wasn’t. The Johnnies pulled away and put up a solid performance. Julian Champagnie is an animal, Posh Alexander is a steal machine, nothing crazy or earth-shattering.
They play DePaul Wednesday, and I don’t think the Blue Demons can make lightning strike twice. I’m taking the Red Storm there.
I didn’t see Marquette losing to DePaul, but it makes sense they they did. DePaul forced Marquette to settle for 3 pointers by using Ongenda to pressure Theo John in the paint. Now, this wasn’t an issue for DJ Carton, who went unconscious from deep at the end of the game, but it was for the rest of the Golden Eagles. With around 4 minutes of game time to go, it looked like Marquette was going to pull ahead, but, went on a 3-minute scoring drought and choked the game. Oh well. It’s a serious blow to Marquette’s tournament hopes, who were in Lunardi’s first four out as of the 22nd. Up next is a tough road game at Providence, a match that will have major seeding implications come Selection Sunday.
I have to admit, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the Friars lately. Kind of a stupid thing to say about a team that upset the #11 team in the country, but still. Nate Watson put up an impressive 29 points in the post, and the Providence offense held Creighton to 4-23 from long range. Provy did an excellent job in this game drawing fouls, something they need to focus on as they stay in the hunt for the tournament.
That said, PC didn’t raise as many whistles when Villanova had them down to Finneran for a Saturday Afternoon Smackdown. The Friars led in the first half on poor shooting from Nova, but it was a very different story in the second. Villanova put them in foul trouble, began to make their shots, and did all the things that make Villanova the #3 team in the country. If Providence can keep Watson off the bench and in the paint, they can remain in the hunt for the tournament.
Xavier is in the same Covid Postponement Hell as Georgetown, but they have 2 games coming up that should prove confidence boosters for the Musketeers. Assuming they can stave off Hinkle Magic and steamroll the Blue Demons (like any tourney team should @marquette), they’ll have some momentum before traveling to Villanova. I’m staying tuned.
I cannot wait until the Huskies get Bouknight back. Dan Hurley’s team fell out of the top 25 today, which makes a little sense considering their loss to Creighton and even more sense with their loss to St. John’s. The Huskies play Butler in Storrs Tomorrow before facing Nova at home Thursday — a must-see contest even with their star guard out until at least mid-February. The key to a UConn win will be guarding the perimeter hard to neutralize Gillespie and Samuels, and Isaiah Whaley has to guard the paint hard against Jermaine Samuels, but it’ll take even more than that to pull out a W.
Seeing Seton Hall lose was easily the most disappointing point of my week, and I had to watch Tom Brady get into his 10th Super Bowl last night. The ball literally slipped through Mamu’s fingers, and then that got followed up with one of the most questionable foul calls I’ve ever seen. I’ll let you be the judge:
No matter. Hall has a chance to prove themselves Wednesday vs. Creighton. Run the ball through Sandro, lock up the perimeter, and it’ll be the Pirates’ ballgame. Seton Hall is a much better team than people think they are. This is when it counts. If they get some key wins coming up, they could be a top 5 seed in the tournament.
Creighton stopped their 2 game slide the other night against UConn, and they did convincingly. Denzel Mahoney got his mojo back, and the team went 58% from the field in the second half. Aside from the game against Seton Hall Wednesday, their schedule in the near future doesn’t look too challenging. They have a good opportunity to pad their resume and up their rankings and seedings. If Zegarowski and Mahoney get hot, it’s game, set, and match for the Bluejays.
I’m shocked but not surprised at how well Jay Wright’s men have played coming out of Covid Postponement. I already talked about their close win against Hall, but then they came back and dominated Providence. They came out of the locker room like a team possessed and made 10 out of 21 from their first-half shots. They even did it with … uhhh … adverse lighting conditions?
Anyways, not even the sun gods can stop Villanova. Can any big east team? They’re bound to lose at some point, I hope. They have two tough games this week, for certain, but Villanova would be the team to crank out another 5 or so conference wins before losing at some point.
Games to Watch
#17 Creighton vs. Seton Hall, Tuesday 1/26, 7 PM FS1
#3 Villanova vs. UConn, Thursday 1/28, 9 PM FS1
Xavier vs. Butler, Friday 1/29, 6:30 PM FS1
#3 Villanova vs Seton Hall, Saturday 1/30, 3 PM FOX