The students' perspective on Villanova Sports.

Big East Basketball Schedule, Forecast, and Predictions (Week of 2/22)

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-Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

The Big East is about to have its biggest game this week since the conference remodeling of 2013. There will be the first ever top five matchup between two teams from the “new” Big East. Aside from that, the conference seeding picture is looking like it’s up in the air for the teams in the middle. Here are the standings going into this week:

#1 Villanova (24-3, 13-1)
#5 Xavier (24-3, 12-3)
Seton Hall (19-7, 9-5)
Creighton (17-10, 8-6)
Providence (19-8, 7-7)
Butler (18-9, 7-8)
Georgetown (14-14, 7-8)
Marquette (17-10, 6-8)
DePaul (8-18, 2-12)
St. John’s (8-20, 1-14)

Eugene Rapay and Patrick Ciapciak preview the games to watch for:

Game of the Week: #1 Villanova at #5 Xavier, Wednesday at 7 p.m. on FS1

Eugene: Forget about what happened on December 31st, that wasn’t a true gauge of what Xavier can do. Jay Wright and his staff will not be looking at the tape of that game. This game will be a measure of where both teams are heading into the postseason and will certainly live to the hype of being a highly anticipated rematch. The Musketeers will have freshman Edmond Sumner this time around and expect him to be a threat that can attack the basket or pull up from long range. He’ll be hungry for the ball after what happened last time. I can see Daniel Ochefu having a big bounce back game after being pretty quiet on Senior Day. The Musketeers will certainly come out in a 3-2 zone or some sort of scheme to take away perimeter shots, they won’t want to burned by that again. Villanova will be forced to go inside again before going outside, so expect the big man to have a big role in it. I don’t think VIllanova will shoot the lights out again. Xavier has always given the ‘Cats a hard time at the Cintas Center, and it will be a closer game this time around. These two teams have a lot in common and it’ll be a coin toss. My Pick: Villanova 78, Xavier 72

Patrick: Wednesday night at the Cintas Center is the biggest game in Xavier’s storied history. The Musketeers have hosted #1 teams before, but never with a team as loaded as coach Chris Mack has his squad right now. For Villanova, Wednesday will present not only their first real challenge to their top spot, but also their biggest test of the season. The hype will be very real. This game will also be both teams’ best preview of what a late March game will look like, so the score at the last buzzer will say much about who can handle a deep run and who will fall. Jay Wright will be looking to his senior leadership as always, but also to Josh Hart, who after two low-scoring performances, announced his return with authority by way of a double-double against Butler last week. The Main Liners were able to cruise by Xavier in their last meeting with a barrage of 3-point shooting in route to a 31 point blowout. Unless Nova finds a hot hand again, the home team should get its revenge. My pick: Xavier 79, Villanova 77

And here’s two more:

Providence at Seton Hall, Thursday at 7 p.m. on FS1

Eugene: Since losing back-to-back games to top-5 ranked Villanova and Xavier, Seton Hall has won six of its last seven games. Isaiah Whitehead might be the man that drive the Pirates forward, but he is coming off of one of his worst performances in his young career. He scored only 10 points and shot 1-of-12 on the floor against St. John’s. However, the Pirates were saved by a 24-point performance from Desi Rodriguez, who has been hot as of late. On the other hand, Providence has gone ice cold, losing four out of its five previous games. The Friars will play their first game out of the AP Top 25 polls and unfortunately for them, their downwards slide will continue. Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil are indeed talented, but it has become apparent in the team’s losses that their supporting cast isn’t all that great. My Pick: Seton Hall 72, Providence 66

Patrick: You might remember how Butler endured a long and painful fall from the top ten to unranked earlier this season. That’s exactly what Providence has known the last few weeks, as loss after loss have piled up to a miserable end to the season. And all this despite the continued efforts of stars Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn! Seton Hall, on the other hand, is on the rise, as they have won their last six out of seven. Their current streak has been enough to launch them into third place in the Big East, a place no one expected them to be just months ago. The Pirates did look uncharacteristically vulnerable in their one-point victory over the Johnnies last game out though. Was that game an exposure of how reliant the Hall is upon Isaiah Whitehead, who had one of his worst games ever? I think so, and if Whitehead does not return to form in time, the Pirates may find themselves switching trajectories with Ed Cooley’s hungry Friars. My pick: Providence 65, Seton Hall 61

St. John’s at DePaul, Thursday at 9 p.m. on FS1

Eugene: These two teams played each other last week, and they’ll be back at it again this week. This time around, DePaul will have home court advantage. Should the Blue Demons lose, that would put the Red Storm ahead of them at ninth, and St. John’s falls to the last spot. Outside of freshman Eli Cain, DePaul didn’t get much out of its players. Meanwhile, four double digit scoring performances from the Red Storm helped put the Blue Demons on the back burner. St. John’s looked to have easily gotten control over DePaul last time. This time around, behind the support of their home crowd, the Blue Demons will get even. My Pick: DePaul 70, St. John’s 64

Patrick: Is this the beginning of a St. John’s resurgence to power? After ending their embarrassing 16-game losing streak with a win over none other than basement-mate DePaul, the Red Storm erased a 20 point deficit against Seton Hall and almost pulled off the upset. And all that after St. John’s went only 10 for 24 in free throws! Perhaps Chris Mullin finally has his team moving in the right direction. Standing in the way of their second conference win in three games is Myke Henry and DePaul, which may not be in last place, but has played as such lately. Will Coach Dave Leitao have an answer to Federico Mussini this time around? No matter what happens on Thursday though, I think we can all agree that these two teams will meet for a third time in the Big East tournament play-in game. My pick: St. John’s 87, DePaul 80

Rest of the games for this week:

Wednesday, February 24
Marquette at Creighton, 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Saturday, February 27
Butler at Georgetown, 12 p.m. on CBS
#1 Villanova at Marquette, 2 p.m. on FOX
DePaul at Provience, 4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Sunday, February 28
#5 Xavier at Seton Hall, 12:30 p.m. on FS1
St. John’s at Creighton, 2:30 p.m. on FS1

Quick Picks:

Record Last Week: 7-2
Overall: 44-21
Record Last Week: 9-0
Overall: 46-19
Creighton Creighton
Georgetown Butler
Villanova Villanova
Providence Providence
Xavier Xavier
Creighton Creighton



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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.


February 2016
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