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Big East Weekly Wrap-Up: 2/21

A wild top-ten game at The Dunk, the Muskies are stuck in the mud, and we have to appreciate Julian Champagnie before he leaves

Chris Hagan

This is a part of a weekly series recapping the previous week of action in the Big East, including some of the most impressive and disappointing performances of the week.

Julian Champagnie was named Big East Player of the Week for the first time this season and for the third time in his collegiate career. The junior wing averaged 29 points and 5 steals in two wins versus Xavier and Butler last week.

Honor Roll

  • Adama Sanogo, UConn, C
  • Nate Watson, Providence, C
  • Ryan Hawkins, Creighton, F
  • Jared Rhoden, Seton Hall, G
  • Collin Gillespie, Villanova, G

Here are some of the previous week’s top storylines...

The Villanova-Providence game was a madhouse affair, for good and for bad

A matchup between two top-ten teams in February and roughly 70 percent of Providence’s student body is in the building? Check.

Said student section is singing to Taylor Swift in unison? Check.

Fans objecting to a call by throwing stuff on the court, forcing Ed Cooley to yell at the Friar faithful to stop on the PA system? Certainly not a good look, but check.

The Big East’s “Game of the Year” delivered in flying colors, as No. 10 Villanova eked a 89-84 victory over No. 8 Providence in the very unfriendly confines of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Two of the slowest teams in the conference managed to play at a blistering pace for all 40 minutes and it was Collin Gillespie’s 33-point performance that made the difference in handing the Friars their first home loss of the season.

Luckily for us neutral viewers, these two teams will meet again on Tuesday, March 1st.

Let’s appreciate Julian Champagnie while he’s still at St. John’s

When Julian Champagnie withdrew his name from the 2021 NBA draft and announced his return for his junior season, the consensus was that he was ready to run it back for one more season before he would enter the NBA draft for good in 2022.

He’s led the conference in scoring for a second straight year and he’s managed to break out of a nearly month-long slump by scoring 27 and 31 points in wins over Xavier and Butler, respectively. Champagnie has produced enough stellar performances to rationalize moving to the pros after this season, meaning we likely have at least five games remaining to watch the scoring dynamo from Brooklyn flourish in red and white.

St. John’s is now 15-11, but they still have a lot of ground to make up in order to earn a bid in the NCAA tournament and do not count on Champagnie to risk injury in any potential NIT games.

Putting aside our preseason expectations of this team, let’s just enjoy watching Champagnie play in a St. John’s jersey while we can.

Xavier is at risk of falling out of the tournament picture

Things are looking bleak in Cincinnati and it’s not because the Bengals lost the Super Bowl or because Skyline Chili is recalling thousands of cans because they accidentally filled their cans with cream of chicken soup instead of their trademark chili.

No, it’s the Xavier Musketeers dropping four of their last five games and looking nothing like their previously top-25 ranked selves. Our very own David Combs already broke down the Muskies’ 13-point loss to St. John’s last Wednesday, but Xavier also came out completely flat against UConn on Saturday afternoon. The Huskies gave Xavier plenty of chances to win in that game by turning the ball over 18 times, and yet they still won by double-digits.

Xavier fans expect to be a fixture in the tournament every single season. They have been to the tournament for every year but two seasons between 2001 and 2018, and they have not missed the NCAA tournament for three straight seasons since 1982 (not counting the cancelled 2020 tournament). Currently, Xavier has not reached the NCAA tournament since 2018, Chris Mack’s final season for the Musketeers.

Travis Steele’s seat is going to get real toasty if the Musketeers end up missing the field of 68 after remaining in the top 25 for a good portion of the season.