We are more than halfway through conference play in the Big East and now every game becomes bigger in terms of March. Here is what there was to discuss over the weekend.
St. John's might be better going small
The Red Storm has been sliding toward the NIT since conference play started, and the suspension of Chris Obekpa for the weekend's game against Creighton did look like it was going to help. Instead they got only 15 minutes from anyone over 6'6" in demolishing Creighton by 18 after being up 22 at the half. They picked up 18 assists on 31 made buckets and went 11-19 from deep. Sure they got absolutely assassinated on the glass, but you've gotta give something to get something. They weren't going anywhere with the big men on the floor, so maybe running with 5 smaller players is the key.
Kellen Dunham had quite a week
In Butler's wins over St. John's and DePaul this week, Kellen Dunham played 69 minutes and went for 45/10/1 on 12-24/6-15/15-15 shooting. Passing wasn't a huge part of his game, but it never really has been. When you put up an ORtg over 140 both games, you don't really need to feed the other dudes on the team that much. Butler is riding a five-game winning streak now and sits at 18-6 on the season and 8-3 in conference. Needless to say, this galls me.
Seton Hall is slipping
After winning back-to-back games against ranked teams and bursting out to a 3-1 start in conference, things leveled off a bit for the Pirates. However, losses to DePaul away and Marquette at home have them looking up at the .500 mark and struggling to score the ball. Things get no easier with Georgetown visiting New Jersey, before Seton Hall goes on the road for a three game stretch of Providence, Villanova, and St. Johns. The Pirates better fix themselves quickly, because 5-10 is a very real possibility right now.
Villanova stays on the two line
The Wildcats are clearly the class of the conference, despite losses to Seton Hall and Georgetown, and will spend the rest of the season battling for their seed in the NCAA tournament. Currently, almost everyone has them on the two line, but upcoming trips to Providence and Butler, while not being enough to leapfrog anyone who is still winning, would be impressive wins come Selection Sunday.
Who is Providence?
The Friars now have four losses in the conference, none of which are to teams above .500 currently. In games against teams .500 and above, they are 4-1 while against those below .500, they are just 3-3. Providence could have a second straight NCAA berth if they could take care of business against teams they should beat. They host Villanova next, but a home game against Seton Hall and a trip to DePaul will give them a chance to get it right before March. Happily, Ed Cooley is expected to be back on the sidelines after being hospitalized this weekend.