Progress Report: Big East

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This year, it feels like the Big East is the conference of overachievers. Yes, just about everyone thought that Villanova would be good … and it is. Many predicted Georgetown to be unpredictable … and it is. But it’s hard to find many favorable preseason remarks about Providence or Butler. Yet all of these teams are looking to finish the season strong and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Several big games remain on the schedule, including tonight’s contest between Villanova and Providence.

#6 Villanova

The preseason-favorite Wildcats are living up to the hype. They have somewhat breezed through their schedule only having a couple of close calls, but a couple of bad losses. However, the Wildcats recently avenged one of their losses by taking care of Georgetown earlier this month and have a huge match-up tonight against Providence. Coach Jay Wright has the Wildcats looking like they are going to have another great season and a high seed in the tournament.

  • Key Wins: VCU, Michigan (both neutral sites)
  • Key Losses: at Seton Hall, at Georgetown
  • Player to Watch: JayVaughn Pinkston – Team leader averaging 9.9 PPG, second in assists 5.7 RPG
  • Remaining Schedule: Providence (Feb. 24), at Xavier (Feb. 28), at Creighton (Mar. 3), St. John’s (Mar. 7)

Georgetown

The Hoyas have been what everyone thought they would be — confusing and inconsistent — and yet, here they are, sitting in second place in the Big East heading down the stretch. Georgetown has had some near-upset victories this year against Wisconsin and Kansas, but some bad losses as well. Georgetown could not pull off the sweep against Villanova, but still has a chance to better their tournament resume.

  • Key Wins: Florida (neutral site), Villanova
  • Key Losses: Xavier (twice), Providence (twice)
  • Player to Watch: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera: Leads the team in scoring (15.5 PPG) and assists (3.4 APG).
  • Remaining Schedule: at St. John’s (Feb. 28), at Butler (Mar. 3), Seton Hall (Mar. 7)

#25 Providence

The Friars came into the season as one of the sleepers of the conference. They have won games they were supposed to win (well, except one) … but have also lost games they were supposed to lose (with the exception of two wins over Georgetown). Providence has one of the most underrated players in the country in LaDonte Henton. With two big games remaining, the Friars still have an opportunity to improve their potential NCAA Tournament seeding and avoid the bubble.

  • Key Wins: Miami, Georgetown (twice), Notre Dame
  • Key Losses: at Boston College, at Marquette, St. John’s (twice)
  • Player to Watch: LaDonte Henton: Conference-leading scorer with 20.6 PPG.
  • Remaining Schedule: at Villanova (Feb. 24), Marquette (Mar. 1), at Seton Hall (Mar. 4), Butler (Mar. 7)

#23 Butler

One of — if not the most — surprising teams in the Big East, Butler was picked to finish in the bottom half of the conference. At the beginning of the season, it started to look like that prediction was right, but the team has gone 8-3 in its last 11 games. Could there be more Bulldog magic towards March?

  • Key Wins: UNC (neutral site), Seton Hall (twice)
  • Key Losses: Indiana, Tennessee (both neutral sites)
  • Player to Watch: Roosevelt Jones: Second on the team in scoring (13.0 PPG) and rebounds (5.4 RPG), first in assists (3.6 APG)
  • Remaining Schedule: Marquette (Feb. 25), at DePaul (Feb. 28), Georgetown (Mar. 3), at Providence (Mar. 7)

Bubble Teams:

  • St. John’s: (19-9, 8-7) Just over .500 at 8-7 in 2015.
  • Xavier: (18-11, 8-8) An even 4-4 in previous 8 games.
  • Seton Hall: (15-12, 5-10) Once promising, now losers of six straight and hoping for the NIT.

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