Conference play in the Big East is setting up to be very exciting. Four teams received first place votes in the Big East coaches’ poll and all 10 teams are in kenpom.com’s top 85. It could end up being one of the most competitive conferences on a nightly basis in the country this year.
But before we get to the much anticipated conference season, there are some pretty good non-conference games that Big East teams are involved in. Here are the 10 you should be most excited for:
1. Georgetown at Kansas (Dec. 21)
This is a monster showdown between two historical programs. The Hoyas could very likely be a top 25 team by the time this game rolls along, while the Jayhawks should still be in the top 10. It’s not too often that a program like Georgetown rolls into Phogg Allen in December. This is clearly one of the best non-conference games in the entire country this season.
2. Georgetown vs. Michigan State (Feb.1 at Madison Square Garden)
Another huge matchup that involves the Hoyas with another historic program. The odd thing about this game though, is that it is in the midst of conference play. The game is taking place on the eve of the Super Bowl (which is also in NY) to create a huge sports weekend in the Big Apple.
3. St. John’s vs. Syracuse (Dec. 15)
These two teams were founding members of the Big East conference in 1979, so it’s not like they haven’t seen each other enough over the last 30+ years. But it will still be odd seeing different conference logos on their jerseys. The Orange will start the season as a top 10 team in the nation, while the Johnnies are out to prove they are the most talented team in the Big East.
4. Marquette vs. Ohio State (Nov. 16)
The Golden Eagles will host the Buckeyes in a game that will take place on land and under a roof this year. If you don’t recall, these two teams attempted to meet on opening night last year on an aircraft carrier, but didn’t even get to the opening tip because of condensation on the court. This year is the first year of a home-and-home series between the two schools and it will be highly anticipated as both teams should be nationally ranked.
5. Xavier vs. Tennessee (Nov. 12)
This game doesn’t have a lot of flash to it, but both these teams are going to be better than most expect. For a game this early in the season that will likely be overlooked, it could have significant implications come March.
6. Villanova at Syracuse (Dec. 28)
See: ‘St. John’s vs. Syracuse (Dec. 15)’, but the only difference is that Villanova joined the Big East a year later in 1980.
7. Xavier vs. Cincinnati (Dec. 14)
These crosstown rivals play every year, and two years ago they brawled on the court. So you know you’re getting an intense, passionate game played to the final buzzer regardless of the score.
8. Georgetown vs. Oregon (Nov. 8 in Seoul, South Korea)
What more can you ask for on the opening night of college hoops than Georgetown vs. Oregon in the Armed Forces Classic on a military base in Seoul, South Korea. Two teams expected to compete for league championships (Big East and PAC 12) on the global stage is how you start the season.
9. Providence vs. Kentucky (Nov. 29 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY)
This game may not end up being that competitive, but it’s still a good game to look forward to. I’m higher on Providence than most (picked them to finish third in the Big East), and Kentucky is already talking about going 40-0. The Wildcats are going to get every team’s best shot, and I’m excited to see what the Friars can bring on the national stage.
10. Marquette at Wisconsin (Dec. 7)
A solid annual rivalry game between two programs who continue to have more success than most people usually expect.
Other games considered:
St. John’s vs. Wisconsin (Nov. 8 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
Seton Hall at Rutgers (Dec. 8)
Villanova at Temple (Feb. 1)