We’re only a few more weeks away from the end of regular season play. With Villanova’s win over Xavier, the Wildcats have closed the gap, but they still remain one-game behind the Musketeers. While it looks like they will be running away with the top two seeds, the middle of the pack will be looking to duke it out for another unpredictable finish. 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!
There were no perfect submissions last week, but shoutout to mikeGnyc01, CapsFan8, and Daniel McNamara for getting 7-of-9 picks correctly, the most out of everyone else this week. Ryan Bowman is still on top in first place, with stuckin NC in second place. Steve92 and I are tied for third.
Here is a look at the standings:
#4 Xavier (24-4, 12-3)
#3 Villanova (24-3, 11-3)
Creighton (19-8, 8-6)
Providence (17-10, 8-6)
Butler (18-10, 8-7)
Seton Hall (18-9, 7-7)
Marquette (15-11, 6-8)
Georgetown (15-10, 5-9)
St. John’s (14-13, 3-11)
DePaul (10-16, 3-11)
Game of the Week: #3 Villanova at Creighton--Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2:30 p.m. on FOX
The CenturyLink Center in Omaha is one of the toughest places to play in around the conference. The Creighton Bluejays were doing a great job of proving how great they play at home by remaining undefeated in front of their home crowd until Feb. 10--when a controversial call resulted in a one-point loss to Xavier, followed by Marquette receiving a career game not from Markus Howard or Andrew Rowsey, but redshirt sophomore Sacar Anim. Anim had the game of his life and helped pilot an unlikely late-game comeback against the ‘Jays. Outside of that, the Bluejays have been stellar at home and their fans are known to show up and make it one of the loudest venues in the Big East. In the previous meeting between the Villanova Wildcats and the Bluejays, Villanova shot the lights out from deep and Creighton didn’t have an answer for Jalen Brunson--or anyone really, as all five Wildcat starters hit double figures and drained at least three baskets from deep. It was a fairly one-sided win for ‘Nova last time. This one should be closer, but the Wildcats should still pull out with a victory. Aside from leading scorer Marcus Foster, keep an eye out for 6-foot-11 freshman Jacob Epperson and two-way guard Khyri Thomas. Epperson had his redshirt burned and barely did anything against the ‘Cats. He’s gotten better each game and most recently had 14 points in just eight minutes of action against Marquette. He was 7-for-7 in that game. As for Thomas, he’s emerged on the offensive end of the court and didn’t do much against Villanova in the previous meeting. He showed against Marquette that when Foster isn’t producing up to par, he’s capable of taking over a game. My Pick: Villanova 88, Creighton 79
...and here’s two more to watch for:
Creighton at Butler--Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. on FS1
Before Creighton takes on ‘Nova, it’ll have a tough road game to worry about to open up the week. This can prove to be a pivotal game for seeding purposes in the Big East Tournament, as the Bluejays are currently tied for third (with the Providence Friars) in the standings. As for the Butler Bulldogs, they are just a half-game back from catching the ‘Jays. The Bulldogs and the Blue Jays met back in early January, as Creighton won a nine-point game in wire-to-wire fashion. Kelan Martin struggled in that game, but on the bright side--Butler managed to hold Creighton to shooting just 33.3 percent from deep. The Bulldogs seem to do well against run-and-gun teams and probably won’t allow such another slow start at home. Expect Martin and Kamar Baldwin to get theirs, but they’ll need a third guy--ideally Paul Jorgensen to step up. The Bulldogs are so much more dangerous when they can get one of their top sharpshooters to complement Martin and Baldwin. In seven of Butler’s 10 losses, Jorgensen failed to score more than six points. This was especially highlighted during Butler’s recent three-game losing streak. During this stretch, he was nowhere to be found and only knocked down a single three-pointer in that window. Butler might have lost to Creighton earlier this season, but I think the Bulldogs get even at home. My Pick: Butler 78, Creighton 75
Seton Hall at St. John’s--Saturday, Feb. 24, at 12 p.m. on FOX
The Seton Hall Pirates, as well as the St. John’s Red Storm, each have business to attend to before they square off at Madison Square Garden for a Saturday matinee. Putting their Wednesday games aside, this should actually be a pretty compelling match up. There is not a lot of people who would have expected Seton Hall to be in this position--hanging on with an even .500 record in conference play, as opposed to contending for one of the top spots. The month of February has not been kind for the Pirates, who broke up a four-game losing streak with a win against DePaul. Meanwhile, the Johnnies have been building up a storm this month, entering this week with a four-game winning streak that started off with a pair of wins against top-five ranked teams. Marcus LoVett announced that he’s not coming back next season, but who needs him when you have Shamorie Ponds? The sophomore point guard has been electric, scoring no less than 26 points in any of the Red Storm’s four-straight wins. You also have to give credit to Bashir Ahmed and Justin Simon, two more Johnnies that have been playing well as of late. St. John’s has to key in and slow down the Seton Hall ‘Core Four.’ The Pirates managed to escape a close game at The Rock, but to go into the Garden against an inspired Red Storm squad? Expect some chippiness, a hard-nosed defense, and an intriguing showdown between Ponds and Desi Rodriguez. I can see Rodriguez winning the individual battle against Ponds by a slight margin, but Ponds’ team will come away with the win in an even tighter game. My Pick: St. John’s 72, Seton Hall 70.
The schedule of the other Big East games this week:
Wednesday, February 21
#4 Xavier at Georgetown, at 6:30 p.m. on FS1
Seton Hall at Providence, at 6:30 p.m. on FSN
St. John’s at Marquette, at 8:30 p.m. on FSN
DePaul at #3 Villanova, at 8:30 p.m. on FS1
Saturday, February 24
Marquette at DePaul, at 12 p.m. on FSN
Providence at Georgetown, at 12 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
Quick picks for the last six games (in order as above):