What's up Big East Nation? Villanova is still undefeated. St. John's couldn't seal the deal with a W versus the Syracuse Orange. Seton Hall has some big injuries, plus they tally another loss to a poor NJ team. Providence adds to their own injury problems as Kris Dunn will be out for the year. Lastly, DePaul needed overtime to defeat the Chicago St. Cougars. There's your last week highlights. Let's look what's upcoming.
Saturday 4:00pm vs. Rider Broncs
Fox Sports 1
Swag. Villanova welcomes yet another 5-4 school in Rider to the Pavilion. A large student section should not be expected, as finals will conclude on Friday the 20th. I'm going to first look at, yet again, opponent 3-point percentage. The Broncos have an impressive 44.3% 3-point efficiency. Mix that with their 75.8% FT% and they can hang around late in games.
Their roster shows 4 double-digit scorers led by senior guard Anthony Myles. To pile on, they rank in the top 100 in the nation in points/game and FG%. Wait, could this team really upset Nova for their first loss? Will Rider pull a Columbia and upset Villanova on their own court with few students to witness? No! Rider is in the bottom 100 in rebounds/game and assists/game. If the 3's do not fall on this day, result to the down low game of JayVaughn Pinkston or even Daniel Ochefu, and the offense should run fine. UNDEFEATED CITY BABY!!!!! (Dick Vitale voice)
Saturday 3:05pm @ Evansville Aces
Butler will travel a short distance to face an Aces team who recently took back-to-back losses to Xavier and the Jackson State Tigers. How bad are the Tigers? Allow me to vent. They are 3-7 in the SWAC. You know who else is in the SWAC? My old friend the Grambling State Tigers, who still haven't won since I was a senior in high school. Jackson St. is in second to last place in assists/game, and are in the bottom 30 in points/game and FG%. Plus, Evansville was at home when they took this embarrassing loss. Butler has to take this one. No question.
Tuesday 7:00pm vs. Yale Bulldogs
Fox Sports 1
As mentioned, Providence took a big hit last week as news surfaced that guard Kris Dunn will require shoulder surgery and remain out for the season. He averaged over 25 minutes per game and logged 5 assists per game, so their offense may need to redevelop a bit to adjust to his absence. The first of the Friars' two meetings this week is Yale. Yale is led by sophomore forward Justin Sears with his 16.8 PPG and 7.9 RPG. He also shoots a deadly 50.5% from the field. While deadly from the floor, he dies at the charity stripe with a FT% of a whopping 58.8%. The team as a whole makes 68.2% of free throws, which is okay at best. In these Big East-favored matchups, free throws are key to stay close throughout each half, and 68.2 is no match to Providence's 80.7%. I can't believe a team shoots that well from the line either! Providence should improve to 3-1 in the Dunn-less era.
Saturday 3:05pm vs. Maine Black Bears
Maine is 1-8 and shoots 62.7% from the line. Their junior guard Xavier Pollard has a 17.0/5.2/3.5 slash and is the head of the offense. He is efficient at 52.7% from the field, and he himself pulls up the team FT% at 76.7%. Three other players average over 10.0 PPG as well. However, I have not been able to watch this team much, so the fact that they are 1-8 must mean they don't run well. Using my Yale-theorem, their lack of made free throws should mean that the Black Bears will most likely by behind a lot in this game. Providence will go 2-0 this week. It will be interesting to see how Providence will go forth knowing Dunn is no longer a possible option in the future.
Tuesday 8:00pm vs. Ark.-Pine Bluff Golden Lions
Fox Sports 2
A classic matchup between ARPB and the Jays. Sorry, I had to make that PB&J joke. The Golden Lions are 2-7 in the SWAC, losing their last 7. Fun fact: 12 of the ARPB's first 15 games this season will be on the road. While unfair, this still must be an obstacle they must overcome. To add insult to injury, their most recent meeting AT the Oregon State Beavers was postponed from Dec. 8 to Dec. 13 because of inclement weather. I really do feel sorry for these kids. However, the Man, the Myth, the Legend himself in Doug McDermott himself shows no mercy, especially after 9 days off. Creighton sends the Lions on to their next road game with a loss.
Sunday 7:00pm vs. California Golden Bears
Fox Sports 1
This opponent will not be the walk in the park ARPB will be. California struggles from the floor and they aren't scoring a ton, however they are in the top 60 in rebounds and assists. The Bear's senior forward Richard Solomon will be a presence and a half down low. If he can continue his 12 points, 10 rebounds per game average, this could turn into a shootout. Three other Bears average in the double digits, so if my main main Douglas is contained like some teams have succeeded, the Bears will take this one.
Tuesday 7:00pm vs. Elon Phoenix
CBS Sports Network
I'm taking Elon. While they are one of the worst rebounding teams in the country, we all know Georgetown to be a bipolar team. The Phoenix's FG% stands at 49.5% and that echoes in their ability behind the arc at 43.6%. Senior guard Sebastian Koch of Elon makes noise across the board 13.1/4.1/3.6. It will be up to the Hoyas' D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera to keep him in check. However, Georgetown should be unable to stop all facets of what seems like a fast Phoenix offense.
Saturday 12:00pm @ Kansas Jayhawks
I having been looking forward to this matchup since November 29th. Kansas' recent outings have been subpar, losing two straight before their New Mexico Lobos demolition. Looking at those teams in a macro perspective, those losses are not awful. The Florida Gators were ranked at 19 at the time, and the Colorado Buffaloes are a tough team at home. And no one blames them for the loss against Villanova; some teams are just unbeatable. It's also worth mentioning that Kansas is undefeated at their home arena. Georgetown goes 0-2 this week.
Saturday 7:00pm @ Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama's most notable performance to date was the triple overtime thriller vs. the Drexel Dragons in the Preseason NIT. Sophomore guard Retin Obasohan is second on the team in scoring with 15.2 PPG, adding 3.1 steals/game. as well. He'll see a lot of Xavier's own Semaj Christon, who is the only double digit scorer on the team with 15.5 PPG. I believe Matt Stainbrook will have a big game here, with his 6-10, 263 frame being too much for the Tide's own Jimmie Taylor, a freshman of similar stature. ROLL TIDE... on the flight to the UCLA Bruins with a loss.
Wednesday 8:00pm vs. San Francisco Dons
Fox Sports 1
At first glance, you may think that they Red Storm rescheduled a meeting with the San Francisco St. Gators after their nail-biting win at the buzzer in exhibition. This team may also give the Red Storm a run for their money. They are top-40 in the country in points/game, assists/game and FG%. Guard Cody Doolin is mostly responsible for this success, going for 13.0 PPG, 7.0 APG, 52.8% from the field. I can see this team upsetting the Red Storm with their potent offense, turning them to a Scarlet Drizzle.
Saturday 2:00pm vs. Youngstown St. Penguins
Fox Sports 1
This nickname of the Penguins make sense, because there is a REALLY BAD overpopulation problem with penguins in Ohio. Youngstown's own senior guard Kendrick Perry leads the way for the Penguins with a 21.3/4.0/4.8 slash, tied with his 52.4% FG%. He's very well known for this dunk last year in the College Invitational Tournament, which by the way none of us have any knowledge about. D'Angelo Harrison has come up big for the Red Storm lately, especially against Syracuse this past weekend. However, his FG% still sits around 40%. Even with this, their performance at home against the Orange makes me think they will take this one. The Penguins will travel back to Ohio with their hearts cold. Make sure you answer my poll about Syracuse and discuss their performance after their close win against the Storm.
Sunday 5:00pm vs. Eastern Washington Eagles
Fox Sports 1
What can I say about this Pirates team? They've lost so much this year, literally and figuratively. They come off a depressing overtime, last second loss to the St. Peter's Peacocks after hitting a 1/3 court three-pointer at the buzzer to force extra time. They lose Sterling Gibbs to a seemingly serious knee injury in that game, as well as Aaron Geramipoor. Pile that on top of Fuquan Edwin's lingering ankle issue, Tom Maayan being sent back to the Israeli Army to serve, and Patrik Auda's foot injury and you have a team with Gene Teague. The Eagles have a sophomore guard Tyler Harvey who posts 20.3 PPG on 51.4% shooting, 49.2% from 3 and 84,6% from the charity stripe. I just do not see the Pirates handling him, or anything in life at this point.
DePaul Blue Demons (actually are not in last place???)
Wednesday 9:00pm vs. Houston Baptist Huskies
Fox Sports 2
Leave it to DePaul to invite themselves to play the Houston Baptist Huskies. The Huskies barely surface into the nation's top 200's in numbers for PPG, APG, RPG and FG%. Junior guard Tyler Russell is highlighted in this one, shooting 44.9% from the field and 88% from the line. However, at 12.2 PPG, he never makes much noise. DePaul struggled against Chicago St. at home, so this could be somewhat close. I'll take them here, however. Senior forward Cleveland Melvin has been great, even to me, averaging 16.4 PPG, with percentages of 49.5 from the field, 72.7 from free throws, and 54.5 from behind the arc.
Sunday 4:35 pm (what) vs. @ Illinois St. Redbirds
The Redbirds will be playing 3 games this week, so we may see a tired squad at home when they welcome the Blue Demons. The only player worth keeping an eye out for is Daishon Knight with his 14.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 41.6 FG%. Even those numbers, which lead the team, are one's we do not bat an eye towards. DePaul will take this one also. I have been picking them a lot recently, yet they always disappoint even when they win.
Tuesday 9:00pm vs. Ball St. Cardinals
Fox Sports 2
What happened to Marquette? They were my number 1 pick for our power rankings the first time we filled them out, being the only ranked team in the conference, now dropping to last in the Big East! Not much to say about Ball State. They are 2-5 in the Mid-America West Conference, shoot well from the free throw line at 70.1%, and have not played a match since December 4th. Being in Marquette, plus being rusty from the two weeks off should mean the Golden Eagles fly away with a W here.
Saturday 9:00pm vs. New Mexico Lobos
What a way to end a busy Saturday for the Big East. New Mexico is a force to be reckoned with. This will DEFINITELY be one of the most interesting things going on in Wisconsin at the time. Cameron Bairstow, senior forward of UNM, is putting up 20.2 PPG on 54% shooting. Don't try the Hack-a Shaq on this big man- his 78.9% FT% will trash that technique real quick. Davante Gardner better find a way to stop him or else the Lobos will come away with the win. And I think they'll do just that.
Not much going on throughout the week, which is just what students need here as finals week is upon us. The weekend will be a great time to unwind when I get back on Friday night, and sit and enjoy these beautiful matchups. I hope you all do the same!