by Dan Gardella
Another week of college basketball means another week of interesting storylines. Some of the biggest storylines across the country came from the Big East
Georgetown suffered their first loss under Patrick Ewing against old Big East foe Syracuse.
Xavier overcame a 22 point second half deficit to defeat East Tennessee State.
Rutgers proved to be the best team in New Jersey as they upset Seton Hall.
Due to Final Exam week, fewer games were played. Regardless, here are my Risers and Tumblers for this week in the Big East:
In their lone game of the week, the Wildcats took down Big 5 foe Temple. That wasn’t the biggest takeaway. The most notable story? Omari Spellman finally had his coming out party. The redshirt freshman poured in a career high 27 points along with grabbing 8 rebounds. Spellman shot efficiently from the field as well (11-14) and also knocked down the three consistently (4-7).
The better news from Spellman’s performance? It wasn’t even the highest point total for the game. Spellman’s teammates Jalen Brunson also recorded a career high with 31 points while connecting on 11 of his 16 shots. This is a good sign for ‘Nova that their bigger stars were able to have big performances before the start of Big East play to show they are ready to defend their crown.
Xavier’s lone game was not as easy to win as Villanova’s. The Musketeers fell behind big early, trailing by 12 at the half and was behind by as many as 22 with 14:26 left in regulation. Xavier fought back, outscoring East Tennessee State 39-15 for the final 14 minutes and change to pull off the stunning comeback.
The comeback was more impressive due to the fact that it was not led by the senior stars of Trevon Bluiett and J.P Macura, who combined for 19 points.
It was led by freshman Naji Marshall who had the best game in his young college career, scoring 15 points, snagging 5 rebounds along with swatting one shot in 23 minutes. It was obvious from the beginning of the year that that Xavier had firepower in Bluiett and Macura. But strong play from roles players such as Marshall, Kerem Kanter, and Sean O’Mara have the Musks ready to play come conference time.
DePaul’s season has been very up and down to say the least. After coming off of a 1-2 PK80 tournament, the Blue Demons rattled off five straight wins, their longest winning streak in five years (When the Old Big East was still alive!).
This week, the ran into a tough Northwestern team that has begun to find its identity in the battle for city bragging rights. Unfortunately, this was the end of the winning streak for DePaul as they only fell by a bucket to the Wildcats. While expectations are low for this team, they have shown that they can hang around and make for some possible upsets come conference play.
Down go the Hoyas! For the first time this season, Georgetown faced defeat. To make it worse, it was at the hands of former Big East member and fierce rival Syracuse.
To give them credit, the Hoyas played well for the first 33 minutes of regulation.
The last 7 minutes could’ve been better.
Leading 60-50 with just under 7 minutes, Georgetown laid an egg, turning the ball over numerous times and allowing the Orange to force overtime.
One positive? Jessie Govan is legit. The junior scored 21 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in the losing effort. He now averages 20.7 points and 12.4 rebounds per game and will have close to those numbers heading into Big East play.
While their record is still good, they failed their first test to prove the doubters wrong
The past couple weeks have been hot and cold for the Pirates.
Dating back to the Thanksgiving week, the Hall fell to a scrappy Rhode Island team, pushing them out of the Top 25.
The following week they get statement wins against Texas Tech and Louisville propelling them back into the polls.
Now they arguably face their worst loss of the season as they fell to in-state rival Rutgers Saturday afternoon, likely pushing them down to the bottom half of the rankings if they aren’t booted out completely.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Pirates respond to the loss regardless of where they sit in the polls
I would start the panicking in Friairtown.
In their lone game of exam week, Providence failed to pull away from Stony Brook and won by a bucket Sunday evening. To make matters worse, senior guard Kyron Cartwright re-injured his right ankle and are waiting on an MRI on it.
As conference play approaches, it looks like Ed Cooly and company are not confident in their rotation along with having to deal with a plethora of injuries to significant players.
This week, the Friars face Houston and Sacred Heart, both at home, and both winnable games in which Providence needs to take care of before opening Big East play.