By Dan Gardella
We are now just a week and a half away from the Big East Tournament at the World’s Most Famous Arena. With the once logjam in the conference standings dissolving a bit, there are still headlines to be heard.
DePaul takes down St. John’s, sweeping the season series from the Johnnies AND Seton Hall
Marquette falls to Creighton, opening the door for Villanova to still win the regular season title.
Last Week’s Rankings
3. St. John’s
6. Seton Hall
This Week’s Rankings
1. Xavier (+1)
2. Villanova (+2)
3. Marquette (-2)
4. Georgetown (+1)
5. Creighton (+3)
6. St. John’s (-3)
7. Seton Hall (-1)
8. DePaul (+1)
9. Providence (+1)
10. Butler (-3)
Yes, I know I put Xavier as the top team in the Big East in this week’s rankings. It is without a doubt that the Musketeers are the hottest team in the conference and no team wants to run into them come conference tournament time.
The Hoyas enter the final week of the regular season with a conference record of 8-8, sitting in a tie for third place with Xavier. Patrick Ewing’s group has won three of their last four, with wins against Villanova, DePaul, and Seton Hall to put their name near the top of the conference. This week, the team won both of their contests against DePaul and a double-overtime thriller over Seton Hall. Though there were different opponents, one thing remained the same: Jessie Govan.
At the beginning of the season at Big East media day, Govan told me that one of the biggest reasons he took his name out of the NBA Draft pool was to come back for his senior year and make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his career. This week, the big man from New York put up a combined 47 points and 18 rebounds, including a 21 point, 12 rebound performance against Seton Hall Saturday night. While he struggled in regulation, Govan put the team on his back during the overtime sessions and ultimately carried them to the victory. At times, the young studs that Ewing brought in this season have stolen the limelight from Govan. But this team runs as he does.
The Hoyas finish the regular season at DePaul and at Marquette. The Hoyas beat the Blue Demons by nine on their home court and fell to Marquette by three when they visited the nation’s capital.
When most people thought Creighton was a sure-fire write in for a first round matchup in the Big East Tournament, the Blue Jays string together three wins in a row to put them at 7-9 in conference play, tied with Seton Hall. After beating DePaul and Georgetown last week, Creighton had one matchup this week, but the toughest matchup. The team traveled to the Fiserv Forum to battle the Marquette Golden Eagles. Marquette, who were banging on the door of a regular season title are a different animal on their home court.
Well, the Blue Jays did the unthinkable! They held everyone not named Markus Howard to seven points or less and stunned the Golden Eagles, 66-60. Stopping an offense with Howard at the helm is never an easy task. While they were unable to stop the junior guard from going off, they did the next best thing, which was limiting every one else. As people have seen in Marquette’s games, Howard does a good job of facilitating when he should get his points and when he lets other guys such as Joey and Sam Hauser, and Sacar Anim to contribute. Creighton held that trio to just 16 points on 6-18 shooting.
With a win like this under Greg McDermott’s belt, it opens the NCAA Tournament hopes for the Blue Jays once again. This kind of win can be one that a team can use a momentum for the rest of the season. It will be interesting to see what comes next after this game.
The Blue Jays host Providence and DePaul to finish the season.
The nation’s most unpredictable team is at it once again! After their big win last Saturday against Seton Hall, ultimately sealing their NCAA Tournament spot, the Red Storm dropped disappointing results to Xavier at home, and DePaul in Chicago. It seems that the biggest factor from wins to losses is Shamorie Ponds. Lately, the junior guard has been laboring, resulting in drop offs in his scoring and efficiency. However, against DePaul on Sunday, he dropped 29 points while nailing 8 of his 15 shots from the field.
In both games this week, it appeared that towards the back end of the games, the Johnnies looked fatigued and out of gas which showed on the court. In the second half against DePaul, they allowed 59 points in the second half. That will not get it done in March.
The Johnnies are on the road at Xavier in their regular season finale.
The Bulldogs are now losers of three in a row and sit at 6-10 in conference play, a three way tie with Providence and DePaul at the bottom of the conference. Sitting at 15-14 overall, Butler’s hopes of getting an at-large big to the tournament seem dashed. This week, the Bulldogs endured losses to Providence in overtime and then a 21-point defeat at the hands of Villanova.
The biggest factor in both of the losses was the inability to put the ball in the basket. Against Providence, the team shot 32% from the field and only 6-24 from behind the three point line. Against Villanova, no one on the Bulldogs team scored more than 11 points. It seems that they are hitting a wall at the wrong time with little time to change things. This is the point in the season where Kamar Baldwin steps up and exerts his First Team All-Big East power. The Bulldogs finish the season at home against Xavier before traveling to Providence.
PHOTO: Jesse Govan/washingtonpost.com