Big East Weekend Wrap: Vol. VIII

Posted by Justin Kundrat on January 20th, 2015

The Big East Weekend Wrap covers news and notes from the previous weekend’s games.

Big East parity continues, as Villanova’s attempts to separate itself from the field have failed while teams like Providence, Georgetown, Butler and Seton Hall are all pushing the Wildcats. With eight of 10 league teams now carrying two or three conference losses, the next six weeks of action should be a bloodbath for those positions in the standings. Below are three key takeaways from the weekend’s (including Monday!) Big East action.

It Was That Kind of Night at Georgetown Monday (USA Today Images)

It Was an RTC Kind of Monday Night at Georgetown (USA Today Images)

  1. Marquette and Creighton remain shockingly competitive in “rebuilding seasons.” Marquette struggled defensively in the early part of the season, but the Golden Eagles seem to have figured things out since transfer Luke Fischer entered the lineup in mid-December. Steve Wojciechowski as a result has his team playing lockdown defense, mixing zone with man-to-man looks in a fashion that has confused Big East opponents. The offense, overly reliant on Matt Carlino, has still sputtered at times, but Duane Wilson and Fischer have made good progress and will serve as core contributors next season. While Marquette currently stands at 2-3 in the conference standings, their average margin of defeat in those three games has been just 4.3 points per game. At Creighton, even though the Bluejays sit at the bottom of the standings with an 0-6 record, they continue to sell out the CenturyLink center and have been competitive in every one of its league home games. They also suffered a one-point loss at Xavier, lost by two to Seton Hall and recently pushed Providence to the very end before falling. While Greg McDermott will lose a number of key seniors again after this season, the play of his youngsters such as Isaiah Zierden, Zach Hansen, James Milliken and Toby Hegner has been promising. Creighton fans are hoping that redshirt freshman sniper Ronnie Harrell, along with incoming center Justin Patton, will turn things around next season.
  2. Georgetown picks up a pair of major wins. Back-t0-back home wins over Butler and Villanova are major resume-builders for the Hoyas, giving them three RPI top 50 wins on the year and building a strong case for a national Top 25 ranking. The Butler game on Saturday wasn’t pretty by any means, as Georgetown shot 39.6 percent in a sluggish two-point home win, but John Thompson III’s team succeeded in containing the Bulldogs on the glass in spite of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera‘s (4-of-11 FG) struggles. While practically every player in the Hoyas’ lineup has been inconsistent offensively, it seems that each night someone different will emerge with an unexpected contribution, enabling Georgetown to scrap out many of their victories. Against Butler, it was freshman Isaac Copeland who blossomed right before everyone’s eyes, scoring 10 key points including a go-ahead three-pointer in the closing seconds of the game. Against Villanova in a 20-point pasting, though, six different Hoyas contributed eight or more points including another strong performance from Copeland with a game-high 17 points and six rebounds. Georgetown completely shut down the Wildcats’ highly-efficient dribble-drive offense on Monday night, forcing the Wildcats out of the paint and into contested jumpers and turnovers. Georgetown is now 5-2 in Big East play, but three of those wins have come by six points or fewer. Georgetown’s scrappy but effective style of play has resulted in the Hoyas sitting alone at the top of the standings, a half-game ahead of Villanova, Providence and DePaul.
  3. DePaul is tied for second in the Big East at 4-2. After getting annihilated at Villanova last weekend, the Blue Demons put up a decent fight against Georgetown and then overcame 22 turnovers to hand St. John’s its fifth conference loss on Sunday. The Johnnies have been really struggling and are quickly playing their way out of NCAA Tournament consideration, but more impressive has been DePaul’s performances. For what was supposed to be a struggling team with no hope of escaping the league cellar, Oliver Purnell’s team has been awfully competitive through a third of the conference season. Billy Garrett Jr. has grown into a leader as a sophomore, scoring 20 points in the Blue Demons’ recent win over St. John’s, while wing Myke Henry strung together 19 points and 12 rebounds in his bully role. To this point in the season, the Blue Demons lead the Big East in three-point shooting (37.0%) and free throw percentage (76.0%), putting pressure on opponents to guard them on the perimeter without fouling. Regardless of their NCAA chances (minute but growing), DePaul has effectively served to put a dent in the resumes of many of the presumed Big East contenders.
Justin Kundrat (175 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at

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