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BIG EAST Basketball Preview: Week 9

Big East Conference play starts this week!

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, Big East Nation! So, the Big East no longer contains an undefeated team, but it was a great run. If you told a Big East fan that there would be a top 10 school in the conference in late December, they'd be shocked. No matter what the performance was for any school, it's a new season now. This article is much easier to read, as well as write, with 10 total opponents as opposed to 20. I'm sure you're at least somewhat familiar with all these Big East teams by now. Let's take a look at how each team will kick off conference play!

Because Big East teams are facing each other, I'll be repeating games throughout this preview. Under each team's subsection, to avoid confusion, I'll highlight THEIR SPECIFIC keys against the opponent.

Villanova Wildcats

Tuesday 7:30pm @ Butler Bulldogs

Fox Sports 1

According to overall record, this is battle of the top 2 schools. Butler has shot 35.5% from behind the arc this year; about 3 percentage points higher than the Wildcats. However, 35.5 is only average and should not be much of an advantage. Guard Kellen Dunham and forward Khyle Marshall are the center points of the Bulldog's offense- both averaging over 17 points/game- so Ryan Arcidiacono will have his hands full on defense, and hopefully Daniel Ochefu can rebound positively from his poor outing in the Syracuse Orange matchup.

Sunday 7:00pm vs. Providence Friars

Fox Sports 1

The Friar's absence of Kris Dunn means their down low presence is weak. JayVaughn Pinkston should get a lot of feeds in this game, however LaDontae Henton is no rub-off. Combine senior guard Bryce Cotton's offensive prowess with their beastly 81.3% free throw percentage and they'll stick around late in games. Overall, the Wildcats should start conference play 2-0.

Butler Bulldogs

Tuesday 7:00pm vs. Villanova Wildcats

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As we saw against Syracuse and Lafayette Leopards, forcing the Wildcats to shoot an absurd amount of 3's really brings them down a few pegs. If the Bulldogs play extra tough in the paint, it could be that simple to stop the Wildcats. The defense of both James Bell and Pinkston will be put to the test. My poll at the end of the article asks about Villanova's poor 3-point efforts.

Saturday 2:00pm @ Xavier Musketeers


Again, it's worth noting that the Musketeers are undefeated outside the Bahamas. My man Matt Stainbrook had his best game of the season against Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and another game like that could spell the end for the Bulldogs. Stopping Mr. Woodshop Glasses isn't the end; Semaj Christon lurks behind the arc with his 50% shooting out there.

Creighton Bluejays

Tuesday 10:00 vs. Marquette Golden Eagles

Fox Sports 1

Remember in the beginning of the year when this game seemed like the battle of 1v2? The Bluejays close out the New Year's Eve lineup with a battle against the last place Golden Eagles. This should be easy for the Blue birds; shooting around 50% from the field is tough to defend, especially for a team with the same record as DePaul.

Saturday 3:00pm @ Seton Hall Pirates

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I will be attending this game, so I'll have the honor of watching my best friend reigning scoring champ Doug McDermott in action. While Pirate's guard and leading scorer Sterling Gibbs has returned to action already from a knee injury, and Fuquan Edwin's presence alone brings the team back to form, Creighton's 3-point efficiency will be too much.

Providence Friars

Tuesday 2:30pm vs. Seton Hall Pirates

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With Gene Teague out indefinitely with his concussion, the rebounding efforts of the Pirates is severely dampened. If Kadeem Batts and Henton take over the boards, the Pirates have no shot. Plain and simple.

Sunday 7:00pm @ Villanova Wildcats

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Maybe I'm depressed and pessimistic after the Syracuse game, but seriously, it doesn't seem tough to stop the Wildcat offense. The Pirates defeated Lafayette by 32 with all their injuries, while the Wildcats only by 16. The Wildcats went 5-30 from the 3-point arc, and held only a single digit lead throughout most of the match. Keeping a forward-heavy lineup on the court can restrict the Wildcat points.

Xavier Musketeers

Tuesday 12:00pm vs. St. John's Red Storm

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If this season is any sort of sense of play, this game will be close because St. John's plays close to everyone regardless of skill. That alone should be an issue for the Red Storm. It seems like they have not found a good consistency yet. D`Angelo Harrison

Saturday 2:00pm vs. Butler Bulldogs


This is the matchup I probably know least about. These two teams rebound well- top 70 in the nation- however Butler is in the bottom of the country in assists/game. Ball movement will be emphasized here: Christon vs. Dunham.

St. John's Red Storm

Tuesday 12:00pm @ Xavier Musketeers

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Going into the season, I thought St. John's would eventually find a way to win with their solid starting 5, however everyone seems lost on the court. A positive for this team in their lack of turnovers, however I cannot say a lot more about them until they find a plan.

Saturday 1:00pm @ Georgetown Hoyas

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The Hoyas' 49.2% FG% is best for 22nd in the country. However, they shoot only 32.2% from three. Like Villanova, if the Red Storm can force a larger percentage of field goal attempts outside the arc, the Red Storm may find a victory on the road. The key is to win by defense.

Georgetown Hoyas

Tuesday 5:00pm vs. DePaul Blue Demons

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Depaul is a better rebounding team, but the discrepancy in FG% (DePaul 44.2, G'Town 49.2) and assists/game (DePaul 12.4, G'Town 15.3) between these two teams leads me to believe that rebounding alone will not lead the Blue Demons over the Hoyas. Did you even expect me to pick DePaul?

Saturday 1:00pm vs. St. John's Red Storm

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With St. John's inconsistency and weakness down low, the Hoyas should simply attack the paint at all times to easily pick up the win. The home crowd should also be a key here.

Seton Hall Pirates

Tuesday 2:30 @ Providence Friars

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Now that Fuquan Edwin is back for the Pirates, the team looks nothing like the one who lost to the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights and St. Peter's Peacocks. Patrik Auda seemed to add another depth to the offense down low, so he should fill in comfortably for Teague, yet not completely. Letting the offense run through the hot hand, whether it be Edwin, Gibbs, or even Brandon Mobley will allow the Pirates to pull the upset to start the new year.

Saturday 3:00pm vs. Creighton Bluejays

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Doug McDermott will be a pest in this one, however if we look at George Washington Colonials, Doug can be stopped. If Edwin can upgrade his defense around the perimeter, the backup forwards now starting due to injury can fill in to stop any paint attack. Crazy as it seems, Seton Hall looks pretty good when everyone is healthy.

DePaul Blue Demons

Tuesday 5:00pm @ Georgetown Hoyas

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As I mentioned for St. John's, the Hoyas struggle greatly around the perimeter. If DePaul forces the Hoyas to shoot the 3-ball, and Cleveland Melvin has his way down low, DePaul might win this one. With 1 conference win, it feels like the Blue Demons will equal their conference win total of the last 3 years combined!

Saturday 2:00pm @ Marquette Golden Eagles


This is by far the most depressing matchup of the week. Loser takes sole possession of last place in terms of overall record. The Golden Eagles look more like dodos in terms of 3-point efficiency, shooting 31.1%. Same game plan as against Georgetown. If DePaul starts 2-0 in conference play I will pack it in.

Marquette Golden Eagles

Tuesday 10:00pm @ Creighton Bluejays

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Their offensive plan seems simple. Combine forwards Davante Gardner's and Jamil Wilson's over 42% field goal percentage with Marquette's poor team 3-point percentage in 31.1%, and it's clear that the 3-pointer's should be limited. Even though I love McDermott, his defense is not good.

Saturday 2:00pm vs. DePaul Blue Demons


Did I mention this game is depressing? DePaul is pretty solid across the board, but they usually pull a "DePaul" and lose. Gardner and Wilson should once again be the keys to success, which will in turn limit Cleveland Melvin's impact on the game as he may rack up fouls or tire easy.

I hope everyone enjoys the first week of Big East play! We'll finally see this new conference comes together; something to take pride in. Enjoy Tuesday's Grand Opening, and have a Happy New Year!