So far, not so good Big East Conference basketball fans, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…
When we last saw the Villanova Wildcats, they were cutting down the nets in San Antonio, Texas having thoroughly beaten the Michigan Wolverines 79-62 in the national championship game. That was April, let’s fast-forward to the present (November), and Jay Wright’s team looks drastically different and plays that way too.
In their highly anticipated rematch nine days ago played at the Finneran Pavilion, on Nova’s campus, Michigan got their revenge and then some! Their 73-46 shellacking of the home team left the Wildcats maize and (black) and blue.
Photo: Sports Illustrated
One look at Wright’s roster, and it is easy to see that with so many new faces, they are a work in progress. Losing to the Big Ten powerhouse was not unexpected, but how easily it happened was. Michigan is now 5-0 and ranked #8 in the land. Among their other victories was another dominating performance against a Big East team, they toyed with Providence as well, 66-47.
When your standard bearer struggles, it would be nice if others could hold the fort. Well, that hasn’t exactly happened. Take for instance the final results of the recently played Gavitt Tipoff Games, which pits teams from the Big Ten and Big East Conferences. After having split the 8 game exhibition the previous three seasons (4-4), the Big Ten won this year five games to three. Not a total blowout, but some of the marquee games were.
Aside from Michigan’s big win, Indiana hammered Marquette by 23 points, and Nebraska beat Seton Hall by that same number as well. Interesting that the three wins that the Big East registered came from three of their middle to lower-ranked teams, and they all came on the road. Georgetown got by Illinois, DePaul beat Penn State in overtime, and St. John’s throttled Rutgers. The Red Storm are a perfect 5-0 thus far and remain the conference’s only unbeaten team to date.
As of this writing, the only win that a conference member has against a top 25 program is Creighton’s 87-82 victory over #16 Clemson in the 2nd Annual Cayman Islands Classic championship game.
Photo: Cayman Compass
It looked as if Marquette would notch the conference’s first signature W when they led Kansas by nine points at halftime on Wednesday. Unfortunately they play two 20 minute halfs in college basketball, and the Jayhawks dropped the hammer following intermission. The Bill Self 5 opened on a 22-0 run and the game was over for all intents and purposes. The Golden Eagles went 0-of-10 from the field to start the half and did not score a basket until nine minutes were gone. Ouch! They were outscored 39-21 in half number two, and eventually lost 77-68.
Big East teams like Villanova, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Xavier and to a lesser extent Marquette and Providence are still figuring things out with new personnel in new roles. It will take some time especially with teams scheduling tough in the nonconference. Best is still to come.
— Sean Saint Jacques (@SSaintj7) November 18, 2018
It stood to reason that with many of the BE’s best players having graduated/left early for the NBA, they might be in for a rocky start to the 2018/19 season. That is indeed the case my friends. Keep in mind though that six conference teams lost three starters from last year, while another (Seton Hall), lost four. So, the Big East is a conference very much in flux, one that will transform itself right before our eyes. But how long will that take, and what will it look like then?
Feature photo: The Greenville News