If you ignore Marquette, our conference is OUTSTANDING. The other 9 teams have yet to lose a game, and while the opponents are low quality, it is a face that is still noteworthy. On the brighter side, Creighton pulled off the upset over the Oklahoma Sooner *cough* *cough* Payton Pritchard *cough* giving the Big East a 1-1 record against ranked teams (again, thanks a lot Marquette). Let's see what endeavors the conference gets into this week.
Monday 7:00pm vs. (15) Virginia Commonwealth Rams (Progressive Legends Classic)
This game will reveal a lot about the 2014-2015 Wildcats squad. Will we see a repeat of the Bucknell game where the `Cats shoot poor from three and the free throw line? Or will Villanova approach this game like they did MD-Eastern Shore Fighting Hawks where they shot 73.3% within the arc? It's really that simple. VCU isn't a team that can be stopped on good defense alone.
Sunday 8:00pm vs. Delaware Blue Hens
I'm sure Delaware is looking for revenge after the last-minute loss to the `Cats in football. It doesn't seem possible, however. Delaware is 348th in the country in FG% and 349th in steals. That's bottom 5 out of ALL D-I schools nationwide. A loss here and I would consider packing it in for the season.
Tuesday 8:00pm vs. Eastern Illinois Panthers
The key here is going to be rebounding. EIU averages 36.7 RPG compared to Creighton's 39.3. Both teams are relatively similar in assists per game, Creighton's forte last season, so it'll come down to second chance points. It's also worth noting that the Panthers are 4th worst in the nation in steals per game, so Creighton should find easy opportunities on offense.
Friday 8:30pm @ Ole Miss Rebels
Game played in Oxford, Missouri
Ole Miss ranks pretty high in a lot of categories, but the low quality of opponents is to blame. A season-opening loss to Charleston Southern Buccaneers means Ole Miss is not a true force to fear. Creighton has had little trouble with losing all their seniors from last year, and that should continue here.
Wednesday 12:00pm vs. (6) North Carolina Tar Heels (Battle 4 Atlantis)
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA have fun.
Wednesday 7:00pm vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers (NIT Season Tip-Off)
Last week SJU was down at halftime to D-II Franklin Pierce, so there is some cause for concern for this game. The big reason for climbing back from the deficit was D`Angelo Harrison's 10.3 RPG. Both teams are top-75 in rebounding, so whoever can win that battle should be victorious.
Monday 7:00pm vs. Murray State Racers
Xavier needs to feed Matt Stainbrook like he hasn't eaten in days. Murray State's Jarvis Williams (6-8, 215) will most likely go up against him. Stainbrook has 50 pounds on him, however, so he should find points in the paint with ease. Murray State should be an easy win.
Thursday 4:30pm vs. San Diego Toreros
Good thing this game isn't decided on awesomeness of mascots because, if so, Xavier would be blown out on their own court. SDU's Johnny Dee will draw a lot of attention; he leads his team with 20.3PPG and shoots 93.8% at the charity stripe. Stopping him will prove difficult, so Trevon Bluiett will have a challenge ahead of him. Xavier is 5th in the country in FG% at 58.4%. If that shows up again, then SDU will enact a mercy rule.
Wednesday 8:00pm vs. Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Lehigh is a very respectable team. They are one of the best in the country at staying with you in tight games, and they force teams to shoot long-range shots with their perimeter D.
DePaul should teach these guys not to mess with the Big East again. There's a reason Bill Raftery put Billy Garret Jr. in his top 5 BE players.
Sunday 2:30pm vs. Stanford Cardinal
The Cardinal(s?) lost their last game to the Duke Blue Devils by 11. Playing Duke then DePaul is like bench-pressing 150lbs just to test yourself with just the bar. Stanford's Chasson Randle will pester BGJr and Stanford should leave Chicago immediately with a win.
Monday 9:00pm vs. NJIT Highlanders
Marquette just dropped a game at home vs. Omaha Mavericks, so their morale should be pretty low. NJIT is a good opponent to build back some confidence. While Marquette ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in PPG allowed, RPG and RPG allowed, they are top-50 in steals. They are definitely more up tempo than NJIT, so getting into a grove early should guarantee a solid win to bounce back.
Thursday 8:30pm vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Orlando Classic)
Game played in Orlando, FL
Back to rebounding- GT is 36th in the nation in RPG while Marquette stands at 3rd worst. Charles Mitchell of GT averages 9.0 RPG but MU's Juan Anderson only grabs 6.7 per game. If Mitchell gets the upper hand here, MU could find themselves in a big hole to start the season.
Wednesday 9:30pm @ (8) Florida Gators (Battle 4 Atlantis)
Game played in Bahamas
Great test for the Hoyas early on. The Gators will drop from ranked 8th after falling to the Miami-Florida Hurricanes. They then needed OT to defeat ULM Warhawks. In the Miami game, FU was outrebounded by a poor margin of 27-24. Against ULM they shot a poor 32.7% (20.0% from three). G`Town's Joshua Smith has been dominant thus far with 17.3 PPG on 68.8% shooting, so an upset could be in the making.
Friday 4:00pm vs. Yale Bulldogs
A successful week for Providence as they picked up 3 wins in all 3 games, giving them the most for a BE teams so far at 5. Yale is one of the few Ivy League teams over .500, but Providence looks too tough to take down right now. Who needs Bryce Cotton when LaDontae Henton puts up 23 points a night and can also shoot threes? Against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish he had 38 points on 14-19 (4-8) to help the Friars storm back to a 1-point win.
Sunday 2:00pm @ (1) Kentucky Wildcats
Everyone will be cheering for Providence here. Our Tyler Ricky Tynes has an observation:
It's being undervalued how good this Providence team might end up being this year. LaDontae Henton/Kris Dunn might be best G/F combo in BE.— Tyler R. Tynes (@TylerRickyTynes) November 23, 2014
Dunn is adding 9.0 PPG and 7.4 RPG to replace Cotton's last year stats to a degree. Kentucky is first in the country in BPG, so if they disrupt Henton to a large extent, the Friars will be lost for the rest of the matchup. I do not see an upset here, while I'd love one.
Monday 9:00pm vs. Illinois State Redbirds
Game played in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
SHU has advanced to the finals of the Paradise Jam. With the Clemson Tigers going down in the first round, the Pirates found themselves with a clear path to the championship. The MVC foe relies on DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell for scoring, and he can rebound too. They do not log many assists, and that is a place Sterling Gibbs excels. SHU will come back to the States with a trophy.
Saturday 4:00pm vs. George Washington Colonials
GW enters the week 2-1, with one win coming against the Grambling State Tigers. They were the teams last year that had lost so many consecutive games and now ranks in the bottom-50 in most stat categories. The Colonials are the best at keeping opponent points down, Patricio Garino's 2.3 steals per game. Seton Hall also ranks in the top-65 in PPG allowed, so we'll see great defense in this meeting. The only worry is whether or not the Pirates have a post-Paradise hangover.