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A Xavier win over Villanova would blow the Big East wide open

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Nova has been dominating since Xavier joined the league; a Muskie win today would set the stage for a new champ.

Villanova v Kansas
It’s about time someone else got to cut down the regular season nets, which I understand they don’t actually do.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The conference standings in the Big East currently look like this:

Creighton Xavier Seton Hall Villanova Marquette Providence Georgetown Butler DePaul St. John's
Total 4-1 3–1 3-1 2–1 3-2 2–2 2-3 2-3 1–3 0-5
vs. Butler 1-0 1–0 1–0 0–1 0–0 0–0 0–1 0–0 0–0
vs. Creighton 0–0 1–0 0–0 0–0 0–1 0–1 0-1 0–0 0–1
vs. DePaul 1–0 1-0 0–0 1–0 0–0 0–0 1–0 0–0 0–1
vs. Georgetown 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 1–0 0–0 1–0 0–1 0-1
vs. Marquette 0–0 1–0 0-1 1–0 0–1 0–1 0–0 0–0 0–0
vs. Providence 1–0 0–1 0–0 0–0 1–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–1
vs. Seton Hall 0–1 0–0 0–0 1-0 0–0 0–0 0–1 0–0 0–1
vs. St. John's 1–0 0–0 1–0 0–0 0–0 1–0 1-0 0–0 1–0
vs. Villanova 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–1 0–0 0–0 1–0 0–1 0–0
vs. Xavier 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–1 1–0 0–0 0–1 0–1 0–0

Creighton sits on top, but they haven’t really played anyone yet. Xavier is second, but they’ve also only played one team with a conference record over .500. With Villanova languishing in fourth and St. John’s still looking for its first win, the Big East season carries the feeling of a contest that’s still waiting to take shape.

If Xavier wins tonight, the whole thing is going to burst to life. The standings will look like this:

Creighton Xavier Seton Hall Marquette Villanova Providence Georgetown Butler DePaul St. John's
Total 4-1 4-1 3-1 3-2 2-2 2–2 2-3 2-3 1–3 0-5
vs. Butler 1-0 1–0 1–0 0–0 0–1 0–0 0–1 0–0 0–0
vs. Creighton 0–0 1–0 0–0 0–0 0–1 0–1 0-1 0–0 0–1
vs. DePaul 1–0 1-0 0–0 0–0 1–0 0–0 1–0 0–0 0–1
vs. Georgetown 0–0 0–0 0–0 1–0 0–0 0–0 1–0 0–1 0-1
vs. Marquette 0–0 1–0 0-1 1–0 0–1 0–1 0–0 0–0 0–0
vs. Providence 1–0 0–1 0–0 1–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–1
vs. Seton Hall 0–1 0–0 1-0 0–0 0–0 0–0 0–1 0–0 0–1
vs. St. John's 1–0 0–0 1–0 0–0 0–0 1–0 1-0 0–0 1–0
vs. Villanova 0–0 1-0 0–0 0–1 0–0 0–0 1–0 0–1 0–0
vs. Xavier 0–0 0–0 0–1 0-1 1–0 0–0 0–1 0–1 0–0

It’s not much, but the leverage would be incredible. The toughest game on any team in the Big East’s schedule (except Nova’s) is the road trip to Nova. Xavier would be top of the conference table with that game in the rear view already; that would be the driving seat.

Creighton would be tied with X but facing down @Xavier and Seton Hall in their next two. Seton Hall would be hosting a remarkably spry Georgetown before that big trip to Creighton. Further down, Marquette is at 3-2, but they have already played Nova and X once each and haven’t played either DePaul or St. John’s.

Of course, Villanova would be 2-2 but still the defending champs. Butler would still be sitting at 2-3, but they’ve already got a win in hand against Nova.

This all pivots on the idea that Xavier can beat Villanova at home. What’s it going to take to get that done? A whole lot.

In the four complete seasons since Xavier joined the Big East, Villanova has lost three conference home games. On January 20, 2014, Nova succumbed to a barrage of Wragge Bombs as Creighton dropped 75 points in the middle 20 minutes of the game to tear the game open.

You’ve gotta fast forward two year to January 24, 2016 and an overtime game against Providence to find the next home Big East loss. Ben Bentil never came out of the game on his way to 31 and 13 to lead the Friars past the home team.

The last year, Butler visited on February 22, 2017 and came away with the win. The Bulldogs were down 49-42 with 10 minutes left. Then Nova just stopped scoring. A six-minute scoring drought let Butler rip off an 18-0 run from which Jay Wright’s charges never recovered.

And... that’s it. Three games, all of which were incredible. Creighton went 21-35 from deep, Providence saddled up one of the biggest beasts in recent league history, and Butler smothered a top-three offense and scored on eight straight possessions against the #12 defense in the country.

It’s not going to be easy for Xavier tonight, but if they can pull off the win, it’s going to change the shape of the conference season.