The calendar has flipped to the golden window of every college basketball season: March. This is the final week of regular season play in the Big East before the Big East tournament kicks off on Wednesday, March 9th. It’s a time for tournament teams to protect their resumes and a time for teams on the wrong side of the bubble to jockey for a high seed and hope for an improbable season-saving conference tournament run.
DePaul’s Javon Freeman-Liberty has won the Big East Player of the Week award for the third time this season after he scored a career-high 39 points in a 99-94 win over St. John’s this past Sunday.
This week’s Honor Roll winners:
- R.J. Cole, UConn, G
- A.J. Reeves, Providence, G
- Jared Rhoden, Seton Hall, G
- Ryan Hawkins, Creighton, F
- Darryl Morsell, Marquette, F
Here are this week’s top storylines across the Big East...
Providence wins their first regular season title in program history
The Friars reached new heights in their dream season by clinching the Big East regular season championship for the first time in program history after beating Creighton, 72-51. Donning shamrock green colors as a jab to Providence’s reputation amongst the media and opposing fans as one of the luckiest teams in the country, the student section stormed the court after the Friars’ title-sealing victory.
After surviving a triple-overtime gauntlet versus Xavier this past Wednesday, Providence maintained their momentum by bludgeoning a shorthanded Creighton Blue Jays team that was without their star freshman guard Ryan Nembhard.
Given its multiple Final Four appearances and great Friar teams of the past, It’s boggling to think that a team with a great basketball history such as Providence has not won the Big East regular season title before this season.
With a win versus Villanova on Tuesday night, Providence will reach the 25-win plateau for the first time since the 1986-87 season, when they reached the Final Four.
Georgetown fans are ready to move on from Ewing
After suffering two home losses versus DePaul and Georgetown, the last-place Hoyas are now 0-17 in Big East play. Upcoming road clashes between Seton Hall and Xavier stand between them and the dishonor of becoming the first team to finish winless in Big East play since DePaul went 0-18 in the 2008-09 season.
In what has been absolute rock bottom for Georgetown, fans are expressing their clearly valid disgust of the state of the once-proud program. Capital One Arena was almost completely empty during their Senior Day game versus UConn on Sunday afternoon and the few fans in attendance made sure to voice their displeasure.
Our sister blog, Casual Hoya, has already produced an exhaustive list of potential coaching candidates to replace Ewing.
Xavier’s late-season skid continues
I spoke about the Musketeers’ on-going struggles last week and the high expectations the Muskies are struggling to live up to this season, and their luck has not changed since then.
Xavier had plenty of opportunities to gain a critical win over a top-15 opponent this past Wednesday in a triple-overtime thriller. The Musketeers led by three with two minutes to go in regulation before a roof leakage inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center stopped the game, giving the Friars the chance to re-group and force overtime.
They then led by five with about two minutes to go in the first overtime, before a series of Providence buckets pushed the game into a second overtime period.
A Paul Scruggs buzzer-beater to force a third overtime period seemed to be the momentum swing necessary for Xavier to finish the deal, but Providence’s offense came alive in triple-overtime to seal a 99-92 victory.
Their next game versus Seton Hall was an antithesis of their heart-stopping marathon with Providence. A crushing 82-66 loss to the Pirates in which Xavier failed to put up any resistance has the Musketeers in grave danger of missing the NCAA tournament for a fourth straight season.
A loss to St. John’s and/or Georgetown before the Big East tournament could drive the nail in a coffin of a season that carried a lot of promise just one month ago.