Well the moment has finally arrived. At 6PM, Eastern Standard Time, the new Big East will make its glorious men’s hoops debut as Providence hosts Boston College (Fox Sports 1). In addition, Georgetown will play Oregon in front of our troops stationed in Seoul, South Korea (awesome) at 8PM on ESPN, and St. John’s will tangle with the Badgers of Wisconsin… in front of the fine people of Sioux Falls, South Dakota (weird). That’ll be on the Big Ten Network at 7PM. So while I still had time before the Big East season officially begins, and in honor of the forecast made by our fearless leader Shane McCarthy (@ShaneInROC) , I decided to submit my predictions for the upcoming season.
A few takeaways:
- Boy, did Creighton strike a deal with the schedule makers or what? The Jays get an easy start to conference play, making the transition into the conference quite smooth. Yes, I know they start off with Marquette, but it’s a home game. Yet there’s no question in my mind that Creighton now has the best home-court advantage in the conference; it’s not even close. I just can’t see the Jays losing in front of that ravenous crowd at their first Big East conference game. The rest of their first five games? At Seton Hall, At DePaul, Xavier, and Butler. Five wins just like that. They’ll ride that hot start to a top three finish.
- *Sigh* Providence. Providence, Providence, Providence. As Gilda Radner brilliantly once said, “It’s always something.” A week ago I would’ve had them in the top four. Since then? Kris Dunn has re-injured his shoulder , the shoulder that cost him several months of practice and playing time last season. The MRI came back negative, but according to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the Friar PG does not sound like he’ll be ready for tonight’s game . And call me crazy, but I get the feeling this setback will last more than just one game. It would be devastating for PC to lose Dunn for a prolonged period of time; he’s that electrifying and important to the team. So Bryce Cotton will need to pick up minutes at the point… when he himself is coming off knee surgery. And to top it all off, the two Friar freshmen, Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock, we’re suspended indefinitely this week. It’s conceivable that both could be back before conference play starts, but the damage will have been done out of conference. Plus, even if both miss games mostly against cupcake opponents, that’s real game experience that they’re missing out on to prepare themselves for conference play (this is ESPECIALLY true for Austin). These questions are too much to ask, and the once promising Friars will finish under .500 in conference play. As an alumnus and fan, I hope I’m wrong.
- Marquette gets another Big East regular season championship, this time outright. I’m not hoping off the Buzz bandwagon anytime soon… unless Rick Barnes gets fired at Texas. Be afraid, Golden Eagle fans, be very afraid.
- Surprise team? Everyone is high on St. John’s, as am I, but Xavier’s schedule sets up nicely too. They’ll be helped in a road game against Villanova by the fact that the Wildcats will have played Temple only two nights before. I think Villanova will be drained by that Philly Big Five matchup in the middle of conference play, and the Musketeers will benefit. They also play another tough road game against an opponent who’ll be on short rest: Georgetown. That game also features an odd 11:30AM tip. Under ordinary circumstances, those two games would result in losses and a .500 conference record. Instead, they result in Xavier tying for third in conference.
So here it is, in all of its glory. I don’t think the Big East gets more than four teams in the dance, so either the top six teams will have to have dynamite out of conference results, or two schools will be in the NIT with .500 or better Big East records.
What do you think? Post your comments below.
Topics: Big East, Big East Basketball, Big East Conference, Butler Bulldogs, Creighton Blue Jays, Creighton Bluejays, DePaul Blue Demons, Marquette Golden Eagles, Providence Friars, Seton Hall Pirates, St. John's Red Storm, Villanova Wildcats, Xavier Musketeers