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BIG EAST Basketball Preview: Week 1

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back.

With last Friday night's tip-off against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, the 2014-2015 season was underway. Five other Big East teams also played their first games that day, with all school winning their respective games into Sunday night. Some schools will face some commendable foes this week, hoping to keep their unbeaten streaks alive. Let's see who our Big East friends (after all, we ARE a family) will play now.

Villanova Wildcats

Monday 7:00pm vs. MD-Eastern Shore Fighting Hawks (Progressive Legends Classic)

FS1

The `Cats come off a poor effort last Friday, however there were some bright spots sprinkled between those 33 attempted threes. They forced 23 turnovers with good defense from the guards. `Nova only committed 9 TO's, which is a step in the right direction after coughing the ball up 12 times per game last season. They outrebounded the Mountain Hawks 40-33, including 19-4 on the offensive glass. The Fighting Hawks come off a 25-point blowout to the Virginia Tech Hokies, and their 6-24 record from last season means Villanova should improve to 2-0 after this one.

Thursday 8:00pm vs. Bucknell Bison (Progressive Legends Classic)

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Bucknell started the year with the win after a 3-point victory vs. the Marist Red Foxes. The Bison finished the 2013-2014 season with a 16-14 (11-7) record after winning six of their last seven. They lost last year's leading scorer Cameron Ayers who shot over 40% from beyond the arc. This Patriot League squad will have their hands full with the Wildcats, and Jay Wright will get a quality win over his alma mater.

Creighton Bluejays

Wednesday 8:00pm vs. (19) Oklahoma Sooners

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What a test for the Bluejays right from the start! After getting two wins this weekend, Creighton will look to get a resume-boosting win on their home court. OK's Buddy Hield had a hot start to his season with 25 points on 7-7 three-point shooting. Isaiah Cousins and Ryan Spangler added 10 and 11 rebounds, respectively, and had 8 steals as a team. People questioned the Bluejays entering the year without many of their starters due to graduation. While the team definitely has chemistry, the Sooners may be too tough of a test this early in the season.

Sunday 4:00pm vs. NC Central Eagles

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The Eagles would not go away early in their season opener at the North Carolina Tar Heels, but they eventually dropped one to the 6th ranked team in the country. NCC shot a poor 32.1% from the floor and got outrebounded 49-30. Creighton's center Will Artino had a great performance against the Chicago State Cougars with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals. He and Toby Hegner will dominate NCC to bounce back after their Oklahoma loss.

Butler Bulldogs

Tuesday 9:00pm vs. Chattanooga Mocs (Battle 4 Atlantis)

Battle 4 Atlantis. Good times, good times.

Butler had a decisive 99-57 win against the Maine Black Bears. Their six double figure scorers were lead by Kellen Dunham who had 18 on 6-10 shooting. This Bulldogs teams finished in 9th last season, however they retained a lot of their great athletes and are poised to make a better run this year. They will make a mockery of the Mocs to improve to 2-0.

Saturday 5:00pm vs. Loyola-MD Greyhounds

Loyola finished off the opening weekend 1-1, winning their second game in the home opener against the Cornell Big Red who shot 3-19 from beyond the arc. The Greyhounds' leading scorer was Tyler Hubbard who had 15 on 50% shooting. Even in their win they looked subpar, so Butler should be able to pick up two wins this week.

St. John's Red Storm

Monday 7:30pm vs. Franklin Pierce Ravens (NIT Season Tip-Off)

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Franklin Pierce is a Division II school, so if this game is within double digits it might as well count as a loss. Rysheed Jordan lead SJU in the season opener agaisnt the NJIT Highlanders with 18 points, and will most likely improve on that season average tonight.

Wednesday 7:30pm vs. Long Island Blackbirds (NIT Season Tip-Off)

This will be LIU's season opener. Last year they finished at 9-20 (4-12) and enter this season losing their start point guard Jason Brickman. Brickman became the fourth player in NCAA history to have 1000 career assists. Consider this an easy week for the Red Storm.

Xavier Musketeers

Tuesday 7:00pm vs. Long Beach State 49ers

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Xavier started the year on the right foot with a 33-point blowout of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. Senior Matt Stainbrook looked dominant as ever with 18 points on 7-8 shooting to go with his 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. The Musketeers as a team had 22 assists lead by Brandon Randolph's 5 off the bench. LBSt's only win was a close 10-point victory against Division II San Francisco State, so Xavier should have no problems with them.

Friday 8:00pm vs. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

I had not heard much of SF Austin before the NCAA Tournament last March, but they were seen as the Cinderella candidates early on. That ride came to a hault at the hands of the UCLA Bruins. They lose leading scorer Desmond Haymon, however their returners have stepped up nicely in the season opener. This may be a tossup, but Xavier shouldn't drop this one.

DePaul Blue Demons

Tuesday 9:00pm vs. Drake Bulldogs

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Might not be that Drake, but it needed to be shared.

DePaul comes off yet another bad season full of bad, but they warmed everyone's heart when they took out Georgetown in the first round of the Big East Tournament. They started this season with a scare by barely edging out Illinois-Chicago Flames by 1 point. Sophomores Billy Garret Jr. and Tommy Hamilton Jr. lead the scoring there, but as a team they shot 50% from FT. They should be able to get their second win here, but sometimes this team I have no idea.

Marquette Golden Eagles

Tuesday 7:30pm @ (20) Ohio State Buckeyes

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WOW! What a transition from the UT Martin Skyhawks to a top-25 Big Ten school. JaJuan Johnson lead Marquette's scoring with 20, while Juan Anderson had 16 and 7 rebounds. Marquette lost Davante Gardner, Chris Otule and their head coach Buzz Williams. It doesn't seem likely that the Golden Eagles can lead themselves to an early upset on the road.

Saturday 2:30pm vs. Omaha Mavericks

Peyton Manning's favorite school for sure. They finished 17-15 (5-9) in the Summit League last year, and scored 100 points in their season opener against Central Arkansas Bears. They are a hot shooting team that is hit-or-miss from long range, so Marquette's perimeter defense should be enough to disrupt any rhythm they get.

Georgetown Hoyas

Tuesday 7:00pm vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders

Their long name might be intimidating, but the Southland Conference foe will be little to worry about for the Hoyas. L.J. Peak was a perfect 9-9 from the field against the St. Francis (NY) Terriers, and while that's a lot to ask for each night, he'll receive extra attention and will allow D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera to shoot from long range. G'Town will survive.

Saturday 12:00pm vs. Robert Morris Colonials (Battle 4 Atlantis)

Robert Morris is already 0-2 on the year, and frustration has to be building already. A home-opener loss to the Lafayette Leopards is especially soul-crushing. They average just over 30% on the year and have shown little positives thus far. The Hoyas will breeze past them.

Providence Friars

Monday 9:00pm vs. Binghamton Bearcats (Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament)

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Binghamton failed to score 40 points against Notre Dame in the season opener shooting an awe-inspiring 26.5% from the field. They committed 19 turnovers and had only 4 assists. The defending Big East Champs can take it easy with this one, because they have three tough matchups this week alone!

Thursday 7:00pm vs. Navy Midshipmen (Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament)

Navy is 0-2, but they have had tough schedules to start in Michigan State Spartans and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They only fell to MSU by 5, but the 39-loss to ND was less convincing. They are lead by sophomore forward Edward Alade and senior guard Brandon Venturini. Providence should be able to handle this foe on their home Dunkin Donuts court.

Saturday 2:30pm vs. Florida State Seminoles (Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament)

Game played in Uncasville, CT

FSU won their first game against the Manhatten Jaspers 81-66. All starters scored in the double digits, and as a team shot 57.5%. Last season they were 22-14, ultimately losing in the semifinals in the NIT. This is definitely a team that can give Providence trouble. This ACC-Big East test will be exciting this early in the year.

Saturday 2:30pm vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament)

Game played in Uncasville, CT

Someone should've told Providence that early season games are supposed to be EASY. LaDontae Henton vs. Zach Auguste will be a great matchup in this game. Whoever can establish themselves first should find the win in the end. I'm sure Providence would love Bryce Cotton in this one...

Seton Hall Pirates

Friday 4:00pm vs. Nevada Wolf Pack (Paradise Jam)

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Game played in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

SHU handled Mercer by 16 yesterday afternoon, even with star freshman Isaiah Whitehead going 1-10 from the floor. Angel Delgado was especially pleasing, finishing with 12 rebounds. Nevada finished with 15-17 (10-8) in the Mountain West Conference last season, losing leading scorer Deonte Burton into this year. The long travel will be especially tough for Nevada and SHU should improve to 2-0.