Five Things We Learned in the Big East this WeekendPosted by George Hershey on February 17th, 2014
Another weekend of Big East basketball is in the books, so are five key takeaways as we move into the stretch run of the regular season.
- Creighton is in line to win the regular season title, but it will not come easy: With a half game advantage over Villanova and owning the tie-breaker, the Bluejays are favorites to win the league, but they have a tougher road ahead than Villanova. The Bluejays play three games on the road to finish the year, traveling to Marquette Wednesday, and Xavier and Georgetown the first week of March. Villanova on the other hand only has one road game, at Xavier. Both teams are going to get every team’s best shot, but even though Creighton has owned Villanova this year, don’t be surprised if the Wildcats end as regular season champions.
- No reason to worry for Villanova: Even though Villanova was bullied by Creighton both times they played, there shouldn’t be too much concern over it. They have yet to lose to any other team in the conference and have only been beaten by two teams the entire season, Syracuse and Creighton. The Bluejays are simply a tough matchup for Jay Wright’s team as every team struggles against a certain style. Creighton spread the ball out and Wright could not find anybody to defend Doug McDermott to at least hold him somewhat in check. The Wildcats have played remarkably all year and a strong finish should leave them in prime position to make a run to the Final Four.
- Creighton still has to be careful: Garnering tons of media attention because of their enormous victories over Villanova, it may seem that the Bluejays are playing amazing basketball, but they came into the game struggling to score the ball and their shooting had been faltering. Obviously they showed up and played a great game against Villanova, but if they are to win more than a couple games in the NCAA Tournament, their shooting is going to have to great. Villanova lacks interior size, something that most top teams have plenty of, so Ethan Wragge and the stable of shooters will need to be shooting like they were at the beginning of conference play.
- The middle tier of teams are going to be fighting for their lives the rest of the way: St. John’s, Xavier, Georgetown, Providence, and Marquette all have tournament hopes and realistic possibilities about making the field. Most of those teams still have to play each other again so some teams will have a chance to boost themselves up, while others will falter and see their hopes vanish. Marquette and St. John’s won big games this weekend at home to help themselves fight from the depths of despair, but both will need finish very strong. Fortunately for all these teams, they all have at least one game against either Villanova or Creighton, allowing them to win a huge resume boosting game. It is looking like the Big East will get five teams in the tournament, but six is also a possibility if those five teams can get some wins against the top two teams in the league.
- St. John’s is for real: If there was any doubt after they beat Creighton last week, that is gone after thoroughly beating Georgetown on Sunday night. This team looks completely different than the team that started so badly. They have tons of size and athleticism, giving them a defense that ranks 26th according to Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The offense is also thriving with the emergence of freshman point guard Rysheed Jordan. Jordan is doing a great job running the offense, putting less pressure on stars D’Angelo Harrison and JaKarr Sampson to do all the play making. They have to travel to Villanova and Marquette in the remaining five games, but they way they’ve been playing, there is no reason they cannot go 2-0.