What a Thanksgiving weekend we had! Creighton gets upset twice in the Wooden Classic. DePaul defeated the Oregon St. Beavers by shooting 58% from the field. Butler came a few missed free throws away from overcoming a 14-point deficit over the Oklahoma St. Cowboys. Seton Hall lost their only game of the week to the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, a matchup that was preceded by 8 days of rest for the Pirates. Xavier was championed the loser of the Battle 4 Atlantis, being the only team in it to lose all three of their games.
Oh yeah. Villanova took down two ranked opponents and won that Battle 4 Atlantis thing.
Let's take a look at the week ahead for the Wildcats, the only undefeated Big East team, and the rest of the conference.
Wednesday 8:00pm vs. Pennsylvania Quakers
Fox Sports 1
WOW. The players, coaches and fans alike need a breather after the Thanksgiving weekend events. Wins against 2nd ranked Kansas Jayhawks and 23rd Iowa Hawkeyes should put Nova in the Top 25 for sure. Barring a post-Atlantis crash, the Wildcats should advance to 8-0 to start the season. Sophomore Guard Tony Hicks is posting 19 points per game on 46% shooting. Hopefully he doesn't have the success that Delaware's Davon Usher had. Once again, I'm going to mention that opponent 3-point efficiency is inversely proportional to the Wildcat's chances of winning. Penn as a whole shoots 28.3% behind the arc. That's all I need to know to seal the deal for the 'Cats.
Saturday 6:00pm @ St. Joseph's Hawks
CBS Sports Network
This game won't be such a walk in the park. The Hawks held close to Creighton in their meeting on November 16th. Villanova's old friend, Halil Kanacevic, has been making noise across the board, having 10 rebounds and assists against the BlueJays and averaging 8.4/7.4/4.8 stat line. Seniors Ronald Roberts Jr. (F) and Langston Galloway (G) both are averaging 18 PPG, but Roberts Jr. is more impressive as he shoots 64.9% from the field. This will be the first game this year for Nova with an overwhelming opponent crowd. I have some doubts here, but I'll pick Villanova and later blame it on the new ranking high. Hopefully Ochefu will have some time to cool off; his defense will be needed in this one.
Thursday 8:00pm @ Rhode Island Rams
CBS Sports Network
Rhode Island sports a 6-3 record, but the 67% winning percentage is fairly inflated. The combined record of all teams they defeated is 10-39. In addition, a team whose roster only holds only two athletes with double digit point averages shouldn't display such a high win total. It's worth noting that RI has seven sophomores; very young team overall. In other words, Providence is Rhode Island's first real test so look for the Friars to fry up some ram burgers.
Tuesday 10:00pm @ Long Beach State 49ers
What a week to forget for the Bluejays. They drop two games in the Wooden Legacy tournament, the latter of which was at the hands of a George Washington Colonials team that limited Doug McDermott to 7 points on 2-12 shooting. Jay Wright should call GW coach Mike Lonergan ASAP and take notes. My prediction from a few weeks ago may be true - if McDermott is neutralized the team is critically handicapped. Unlike some other teams, Creighton doesn't get time to rest at home, but at least they stay in the state of California. Long Beach St. should get the Blue Birds flying high as they rank in the bottom 30 in the country in PPG and FG%. Senior forward Dan Jennings of the 49ers is posting 12.4 PPG on 60.6% efficiency. Seems pretty unstoppable until you see his FT% is 39.4% on 33 attempts. It's clear that Hack-a-Shaq style of defense would suffice to put the brakes on him, and Creighton will start a new winning streak.
Sunday 6:00pm vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Fox Sports 1
My analysis parallels the Rhode Island explanation. This will be Nebraska's first away game at a non-neutral location. Nebraska has 5 wins on the season and those teams have a combined record of 12-20, and their 2 losses come against teams with a 12-2 record together. Plus, this game has one of the biggest statistic differentiation you'll ever see. Nebraska ranks third worst in the nation in 8 assists/game, while the BlueJays rank second OVERALL in assists per game with 20.3. Creighton will win their first game at home in what will feel like forever.
Saturday 6:00pm vs. North Dakota
Fox Sports 1
North Dakota currently does not have a nickname after they threw out the Fighting Sioux title due to the controversy over racism with Native Americans, just like the Washington Redskins issue. One issue North Dakota doesn't have is scoring the basketball. They rank in the top 50 in the country in PPG (81.8) and top 100 in FG% (46.8%). However, they are in the bottom 50 in assists per game and rebounds per game. What we can assume from this is that the team with no name has a lot of 1-and-done possessions. Butler surprised me by limiting Marcus Smart a bit, so guard Troy Huff should not be an issue for the 'Dogs. Bulldogs will lend a helping hand and nickname North Dakota "losers." I'd imagine the 6 people who live in North Dakota will be in attendance.
Saturday 2:15pm @ Wisconsin Badgers
Big Ten Network
Wisconsin's averages across the board make you wonder how they're ranked 10th in the country. They are 73rd in the nation shooting 48% from the field. However, they are out of the top 100 in PPG, APG, RPG. They have 5 players averaging more than 10 PPG with junior guard Traevon Jackson at the center of it all, with a 11.5/5.4/4.6 slash. 6th year player Chris Otule for Marquette isn't being nearly as dominant in the front court as I had imagined, but his body will prove key against a poor Badger rebounding team. Because the game is at Wisconsin, I do not see the Golden Eagles causing a shock in the Kohl Center. Wisconsin will go to 9-0!
Saturday 1:30pm vs. Fordham Rams
This game is a scheduled matchup in the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival. Because this is not a tournament (just two games played at MSG) and St. John's plays most of their games at MSG, this Festival means nothing to them. NOTHING! St. John's has really struggled thus far. A 5-2 record is something to brag about, however the Red Storm's FG% (41.1%) and 3 point FG% (29.1%) is nothing more than a small rain shower. The Rams similarly struggle from the floor, posting 41.1% and 32.8%, respectively. The Rams also have two guards, Jon Severe and Brandon Frazier, who average over 20 PPG. Call me crazy, but the Rams take this one in the Red Storm's house.
Thursday 9:00pm vs. High Point Panthers
Fox Sports 1
Georgetown seemed to get back on the winning track after their embarrassment against Northeastern Huskies, crushing Kansas St. and outlasting the then-10th ranked VCU Rams. The Panthers won't go away easy, as they are 11th in the country shooting 52.1%. That shooting does not carry over to 3PFG% and FT%, at 29.7% and 67.4%. All three High Point losses have come against teams over .500. With a talented team like Georgetown, free throws and 3's will be key to stay close. As you see, the Panthers lack that skill. Hoyas extend their winning streak to 4.
Saturday 12:00pm vs. Colgate Raiders
Fox Sports 1
Colgate is top 20 in assists per game with 17.8 and field goal percentage with 51.3. Good ball handling in order to find the quality shot is at the fabric of each Raider possession. No wonder there are five players in double figures for PPG. However, we look at the opponent record in each of their four wins and we get an atrocious 6-25, otherwise known as a 24% winning percentage. This game will come down to the wire, but the Hoyas will get 2 wins this week. Look for Austin Tillotson's great point guard ability to keep the Raiders in this. Colgate will always have better toothpaste.
Saturday 2:00pm vs. Bowling Green Falcons
Fox Sports 1
What a week to forget for Xavier. Being the ultimate losers of the Battle 4 Atlantis almost made going to the Bahamas unpleasant. Coming home to Cincinnati should be a refresher much needed. The Falcons fly in with 4 ballers averaging double digit points, however, they shoot poorly from everywhere; 44.5% FG%, 58.2 FT%, 25.7% from 3. It follows that their PPG as a team lies in the bottom 50 of all Division 1 teams. Xavier will be hungry- no STARVING- for a win, so they will send the Falcons south with a loss.
Thursday 7:00pm vs. LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds
Fox Sports 1
Last week I imagined the Pirates would take it easy and punish Fairleigh Dickinson. I guess they took it too easy, dropping the ball on this Sunday matinee. Sterling Gibbs of the Pirates finished 0-7. I want to say LIU is going to be an easy win, but I'm hesitant. LIU has the 15th worst FG% at 38%. Senior guard Jason Brickman averages 9.2 assists per game; that's some NBA material! If the Pirates can avoid shooting under 40% themselves, they should get back on track.
Sunday 8:00pm @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Toilet Bowl Star Ledger Bowl continues its tradition after the conference breakup. Senior forward Kadeem Jack spots 15.6 PPG and 7.9 RPG while shooting 54.8%. He's 100% from behind the arc, also! That tends to happen when you make your only attempt. Rutgers has been VERY bad lately. They lost to the Drexel Dragons, who actually have been impressive lately - they almost took down the Arizona Wildcats. But the Knights also lost to that Fairleigh Dickinson squad, too, and Florida A&M Rattlers (they have 2 wins on the season). Seton Hall isn't THIS bad; the Pirates overcome the Knights.
DePaul Blue Demons (deserve to be at the bottom)
Friday 7:00pm vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
Fox Sports 1
I have to say that while the Blue Demons only won 1 game, they impressed me. Their victory over the Oregon St. displayed a great defensive effort. Holding Roberto Nelson to only 19 points was key, and this win came with the Beavers shooting 60%. How can one lose and shoot so brilliantly? Because DePaul fired up 57.9% and 54.5% from 3-land. To keep up with such a fast paced team shows character. Maybe I shouldn't hate them as much. My little respect comes through here against the Sun Devils. Starting off 6-0 was an incredible feat, but since then they edged by Marquette, were upended by Creighton and lost to a weak Miami Hurricane team. The Devils have been all over the map recently, competing in the Wooden Legacy tournament as well, so a confident Demon bunch should overtake the Sun Devils. Screenshot this, tell your friends, write home. I showed DePaul some love!
Not as many games this week after the many preseason tournaments that kicked off and concluded this past weekend. It's all in good taste; I think we were all spoiled in last week's endeavors. Rest up Big East Nation!