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Big East Standings, Schedule, and Pick’em Contest (Week of 2/12)

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into this week, there is now a new team sitting atop the Big East, as Xavier takes a half-game lead over Villanova. The two teams will meet up on Saturday in what will be another top-10 matchup. Aside from that, there are a couple of interesting games taking place on Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day, and the final non-conference game in the Big East Conference, as the Creighton Bluejays will take on Division II’s Bemidji State Beavers. (Pat yourself on the back if you’ve heard of or know where Bemidji State is without any research.) Interestingly enough, the game is an exhibition game for Bemidji State, but it will count for the Bluejays. Here is your weekly look at the standings, schedule of Big East games, some of the key matchups this week, and a continuation of our pick’em contest. This post will be updated later to reflect the new rankings, once the polls are released this afternoon.

The rules are simple, just pick who you think will win each of the games from this week using this link. We’ll keep a cumulative score of your predictions and release them each week, whoever gets the most number of correct picks at the end of the season wins a prize! You will have until the first game tips off on Tuesday night to get your picks in, in order for all of them to count. Any late submissions will result in the picks made for finished games or the ones in progress being forfeited, but the remaining ones after them will count. For scoring and contest purposes, your most recent answer form will be used.

It’s one point for every correct answer and whoever has the most points at the end of the regular season, wins!

Here is a complete scoreboard and everyone’s picks from previous weeks.

There were no perfect submissions last week, as everyone incorrectly predicted Villanova to beat St. John’s, and for Providence to win at home versus DePaul. Ryan Bowman still stands alone in first place, with stuckin NC in second place. Myself, and two others, are in a three-way tie for third.

Here is a look at the standings:

#5 Xavier (23-3, 11-2)
#1 Villanova (23-2, 10-2)
Creighton (18-7, 8-5)
Providence (16-9, 7-5)
Butler (17-9, 7-6)
Seton Hall (17-8, 6-6)
Marquette (14-11, 5-8)
Georgetown (14-10, 4-9)
DePaul (10-14, 3-9)
St. John’s (13-13, 2-11)

Game of the Week: #1 Villanova at #5 Xavier--Saturday, Feb. 17, at 4:30 p.m. on FOX

After Xavier survived against Creighton and Villanova lost to St. John’s, there is only one home arena left that has been invincible so far: the Cintas Center. Typically renowned as a tough place to play in, the Musketeers have backed that reputation up with a 15-0 record at home. With Villanova coming to town, it will definitely be rocking on Saturday. Last time, the Wildcats ventured into Cincinnati, they won fairly easily, as Xavier dealt with a case of the injury bug with leading scorer Trevon Bluiett hindered by an ankle injury. Now, it is the Wildcats that are suffering, with Phil Booth (hand) and Eric Paschall (concussion) out of commission. Both players played a big role in the Wildcats’ 24-point beatdown of the Musketeers earlier this season, as they combined for 35 points. Yes, Villanova might be struggling with depth, but if it can keep Bluiett and J.P. Macura quiet like it did last time--depth shouldn’t be an issue. The Musketeers are a deep squad, with a lot of different pieces surrounding their top players, so Villanova will have to buckle down. Call me crazy, and yes--I know Xavier hasn’t lost at the Cintas Center--but Villanova should win this game. I said it earlier in the season, Xavier--as a team, overall--hasn’t impressed me. It’s nuts, because the Musketeers are 23-3, in contention for a No. 1 seed in March, sitting atop the Big East right now--but that record is a bit inflated. It’s great that they’ve found a way to win the close games, that’ll help in March, but so many of these games came with a fortunate bounce of the ball headed their way. While St. John’s has been unlucky with losing so many close games that could’ve gone either way, Xavier has been fortunate to win every close game that could’ve gone either way. The Musketeers have won 10 games decided by seven or fewer points--East Tennessee State, Marshall, Marquette, DePaul, Butler (twice), St. John’s (twice), Creighton, and Georgetown. If Villanova was at full strength, I’d say it has it in the bag. Since it isn’t, it might be a bit tougher, but the luck runs out for Xavier and there will be no more undefeated home records in the Big East. My Pick: Villanova 86, Xavier 77

...and here’s two more to watch for:

#1 Villanova at Providence--Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. on FS1

From here on out, the month of February won’t be a breeze for the Wildcats. Four of their five upcoming games will be on the road and against some of the better Big East teams, in some of the tougher places to play in. Villanova will start that road trip against Providence on Wednesday, then it will head to Cincinnati to play Xavier. There is a break with DePaul at home, but then the ‘Cats will travel to Creighton and Seton Hall. If Villanova goes through this stretch unscathed, that would be very impressive. It starts with Providence, a team that it had blown out by 20 back on Jan. 23 after overcoming a slow start. However, as we all know, the Friars are a much different team when they get to play in the comfort of the Dunkin Donuts Center. Yes, they did recently look lost in a shocking 17-point loss to DePaul last Saturday, but before that Marquette needed a superhuman performance from Markus Howard to give the Friars their only other home loss in conference play. The Friars have downed the likes of Xavier, Creighton, and Butler at home. Can Villanova avoid suffering the same fate as those three? If the Wildcats are smart with their shot selection, they’ll know when to stop shooting it up if the long range shot isn’t falling. Providence is one of the best in the country when it comes to protecting the three-point line. It might be an ugly game where Villanova has to bully its way inside and both teams will take a lot of trips to the line, but the Wildcats should get this first one done. Barely. My Pick: Villanova 74, Providence 70

Seton Hall at #5 Xavier--Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 9 p.m. on FS1

It hasn’t been a great month of February for Seton Hall, who is 0-3 so far this month. The Pirates enter this game with a three-game losing streak, with a number of lowlights. They lost to the Wildcats, got fed their own words after “the real Seton Hall” didn’t show up at home against Marquette, and then Georgetown shocked them in D.C. Now, the Pirates are at risk for dropping below .500 in conference play, if the Musketeers knock them down. While Xavier hasn’t experienced the same misfortune as Seton Hall, it has been able to escape with victories in the last four games. The Musketeers have won four-straight nail-biters, including one against Creighton that ended in controversy--extending their win-streak to eight games. If Xavier wants to make it nine-straight, it’ll have to contain Seton Hall’s ‘Core Four’ to under 59 points. The Pirates revolve around Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Myles Powell and Khadeen Carrington. When they don’t hit their combined average of 59 points, it usually spells trouble for Seton Hall. As for Seton Hall, it has gotten some great contributions from Rodriguez and Powell, who only continue to grow. Delgado has remained solid down low, but it needs Carrington to be more consistent. Seton Hall usually gets two or three members really going night in and night out, but when Carrington is able to join them with a nice game, then the Pirates are truly dangerous--he hasn’t been able to do that as of late. The Musketeers won’t be distracted with their date against Villanova on Saturday, and they should take care of business against Seton Hall--with a little more breathing room this time. My Pick: Xavier 86, Seton Hall 77

The schedule for the rest of the games this week:

Tuesday, February 13
Georgetown at Butler, 6:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
Bemidji State at Creighton, 8 p.m. on FS2

Wednesday, February 14
St. John’s at DePaul, 9 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Saturday, February 17
Providence at Butler, 12 p.m. on FOX
Marquette at Creighton, 10 p.m. on FSN

Sunday, February 18
DePaul at Seton Hall, 1 p.m. on FS1

Quick Picks for the last six games (in order as above):

St. John’s
Seton Hall