Following any conference’s opening weekend, at least a few losses would be expected among the pool of teams, and yet, the Georgetown Bulldogs are the only Big East men’s basketball team that has suffered a defeat. This seems to be a result of a combination of one-sided matchups and dominant performances.
Currently, the AP’s NCAA men’s basketball rankings list Villanova (3), Xavier (11) and Creighton (22) among the top 25, with Seton Hall falling just short. Clearly, the Big East is a powerful division, and looking at some of the margins of victory from this past weekend, it appears that at least a few teams will pick up where they left off after strong finishes in the 2015-2016 season.
Despite losing Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu, the Villanova Wildcats continued their momentum from last season’s NCAA Championship. The Lafayette team they faced was no match, as Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart stepped up with impressive games. Jenkins’ 24 points and five rebounds combined with Hart’s 15 points and four boards overpowered Lafayette. As Villanova continues to ride its championship momentum, it will be interesting to see who will be the biggest competition to the Wildcats.
In a busy weekend of play for Seton Hall, the Pirates currently sit at 2-0 after victories over Fairleigh Dickinson and Central Connecticut. Neither team withstood any chance against Angel Delgado, who controlled the paint on both ends. Against Fairleigh Dickinson, Delgado accounted for a team leading 14 rebounds on way to a double-double. Facing FDU, his 16 rebounds led the team again and helped him notch his second double-double. Khadeen Carrington also shined against both teams, shooting 90 percent from three-point range. Although the Pirates experienced great success this weekend, they had trouble defending three-point shots, especially against the Knights. FDU scored 27 points from beyond the arc, with several of those buckets coming uncontested. If left uncorrected, this defensive issue could end up costing the Pirates in tougher games when they lack the luxury of double-digit leads.
Looking at Creighton’s game against Missouri and Xavier’s against Lehigh, it appears that these matches should have ended with double-digit victories for both Big East teams. However, these teams managed tight, near-losses against low-ranked teams. In each team’s next matchup, they found their form and showed why they deserve their top 25 rankings.
Creighton held off Wisconsin (11) in a convincing 79-67 victory. It was a well-rounded team win for Bluejays as well, with four different players breaking double digit scoring.
As for Xavier, the Muskateers buried Buffalo by a ridiculous 33 point margin. The stingy Xavier defense was on full display as they forced the Bulls to cough up 21 turnovers and limited the team to a mere 15 made field goals.
With both of these elite Big East teams insuring their strength and depth with big wins, they will certainly be a force in both conference play and against non-conference foes
Each of the remaining four Big East teams—Butler, DePaul, Marquette and St. John’s—toppled their opponents this weekend. Unfortunately, the success they have seen to this point may be short lived since these teams will have to prove themselves against higher ranked competitors. It will be interesting to see how all of the teams, particularly Villanova and Seton Hall, find success coming off of title winning seasons.
Bob Towey is a finance and journalism major from Livingston, N.J. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BobTowey5.