The students' perspective on Villanova Sports.

Big East Basketball Schedule, Forecast, and Predictions (Week of 1/4)

-Laurence Kesterson/AP Photo

With the first week of conference play over and a new year underway, we’ll be looking at the bigger picture from now until the season is over. The Big East is looking exciting this year and a lot more competitive. It doesn’t seem like there will be a clear-cut or overwhelming favorite to cut down the nets in Madison Square Garden, unlike the last couple of seasons.

First, here are the standings heading in to this week:

#8 Providence (14-1, 2-0)
#11 Villanova (12-2, 2-0)
Seton Hall (12-2, 2-0)
Georgetown (9-5, 2-0)
#10 Xavier (13-1, 1-1)
Creighton (10-5, 1-1)
#18 Butler (11-3, 0-2)
Marquette (10-4, 0-2)
St. John’s (7-8, 0-2)
DePaul (6-8, 0-2)

Eugene Rapay and Patrick Ciapciak weigh in on the games to watch for:

Game of the Week: #11 Villanova at #18 Butler, Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on FS1

Eugene: It’s never easy going in to Hinkle Fieldhouse and coming out of it with a win. However, this hasn’t been the usual Butler squad, dropping its first two Big East games. Leading scorer Kellen Dunham can’t seem to hit his shots, going ice cold like the plummeting temperatures outside. In his last five games, Dunham has averaged 7.2 points, while shooting a meager 11-for-59 (18.6%). Last season, Villanova needed last second heroics from Darrun Hilliard to pull out the win in Hinkle Fieldhouse. With an ice-cold Dunham, the Wildcats should win this one a little more comfortably this time around in the lone Big East Top 25 matchup of the week. My pick: Villanova 76, Butler 67

Patrick: Jay Wright’s squad travels to Indianapolis to take on the best three-loss team in the country. Will the mental toughness and depth of Villanova’s perennially dominant side be enough to overcome the hostile Hinkle Fieldhouse environment? Butler was in the top ten just last week, but suffered back-to-back losses thereafter. Then again, those losses were to Providence and at Xavier. Butler is pining for a chance to be feared by opponents once again, and Villanova is standing in the tracks. Hoosier magic will not be enough. Villanova may be the cream of the Big East’s crop, but for a team that still relies heavily on three point shots, anything can happen. My pick: Villanova 76-73, in OT like two years ago.

And here’s two more:

Marquette at #8 Providence, Tuesday at 7 p.m. on FS1

Eugene: Marquette’s front court tandem of freshman phenom Henry Ellenson and junior center Luke Fischer will try to control the paint in an interesting matchup of big men. As for Providence, NBA prospect Kris Dunn is still the leading man, but he’s been relieved to know he doesn’t have to do it all alone. Ben Bentil has been a pleasant surprise for the Friars, racking up points and boards down low with Rodney Bullock helping him out inside. Both Ellenson and Bentil have taken off since facing a bit of a hiccup very early in the season. The two opposing forwards have gotten their way so far in Big East play, but that shouldn’t last for long once both teams square off. My pick: Providence 81, Marquette 68

Patrick: The Golden Eagles’ winless start to Big East play takes them to Providence in hopes to find their first ‘W’. Marquette’s loaded front court that’s headlined by five-star recruit Henry Ellenson has given his team memories of their days as a formidable team with Devante Gardner and Chris Otule up front. Unfortunately for Ellenson and the Golden Eagles, they are headed to the Dunkin Donuts Center, NBA prospect and conference star Kris Dunn’s favorite place to play in. Dunn has been everything and more for the Friars. Earlier this season he even almost had a quadruple-double! Providence has even more star power and that will be difference. My pick: Providence 77, Marquette 58

Creighton at Seton Hall, Saturday at 2 p.m.

Eugene:  These two teams were at the very bottom of the conference last season, with Seton Hall just finishing ahead of DePaul in eighth and Creighton finishing dead last at tenth. So far both teams seem to be trending upward in the right direction, at least enough to do better than last season. Creighton’s Geoffrey Groselle was quiet in the game against Villanova and will have another tough matchup against Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado. Groselle is one of the conference’s most efficient scorers, while Delgado is a scrappy and tenacious player in the paint on both ends of the court. As for guard play, I see Creighton getting their shooters back into a groove to make it a close one. However, since Isaiah Whitehead has been leading the Pirates’ ship, Seton Hall has looked a lot better than it did when it had the internal turmoil last season. The former five-star recruit is looking comfortable on the court as a scorer and distributor. My Pick: Seton Hall 71, Creighton 66

Patrick: Seton Hall will be fresh off of a visit to the Main Line, but the Big East schedulers have shown mercy on the Pirates by bringing them back to Newark for a matchup against an unproven Creighton squad. Win or lose at Villanova, will Seton Hall have the mental energy to keep on trucking through a frontloaded conference schedule? Creighton, meanwhile, is still searching for its next Dougie buckets. Is transfer Maurice Watson Jr., at 13 points per game, their man? Probably not, but Isaiah Whitehead has certainly asserted himself as Seton Hall’s leader. Whitehead is a double threat and his supporting cast will look to take advantage of a tired Creighton team with too many air miles under their belt to spoil a steady Seton Hall campaign. My pick: Seton Hall 75, Creighton 52

The rest of the Big East games this week:

Tuesday, January 5
#18 Butler at DePaul, 8 p.m. on FS2
Georgetown at Creighton, 9 p.m. on FS1

Wednesday, January 6
Seton Hall at #11 Villanova, 7 p.m. on FS1
#10 Xavier at St. John’s, 9 p.m. on FS1

Saturday, January 9
DePaul at Georgetown, 12 p.m. on FS1
St. John’s at Marquette, 2 p.m. FS2

Quick Picks for the Last Six:

Eugene:                      Patrick:

Butler                           Butler
Georgetown              Creighton
Villanova                    Villanova
Xavier                          Xavier
Georgetown             Georgetown
Marquette                 Marquette

 

 

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About The Author

Eugene Rapay '16 created "The Bench Mob" in November 2013. He joined the Villanova Times in 2012 as a writer. A Westchester, NY native, who will bring top quality coverage of all things Villanova sports.

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