Midpoint Review - Big East

1/31/14 in NCAABB   |   EdIsaacson   |   15 respect

Jan 28, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Creighton Bluejays forward Doug McDermott (3) puts up the game winning three point shot over St. John's Red Storm center Chris Obekpa (12) during their NCAA mens basketball game at the CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Dave Weaver-USA TODAY SportsAs we head into February, we are also reaching about the mid-point for many conference seasons. Over the next two days, I will give some run downs of each major conference. Next up, the Big East:
The Good
  • Creighton has been the Big East star in the early going, making a big impression as part of a new conference. The offense is both a lot of fun to watch and nearly impossible for defenses to scheme for due to the numerous options.  Also, one of the best fan bases in all of college basketball gives the team a great home court advantage.
  • Jay Wright has done it again. You look at the Villanova roster and you think it’s an okay team that will finish middle of the conference or so, but Wright knows how to get the most out of his team. The Wildcats are 18-2 and 7-1 in the Big East.
  • Chris Mack’s Xavier squad has also adjusted well to its new conference, maintaining their tough style of play and gritting out victories in a manner that old Big East member Cincinnati used to.
The Bad
  • This year was expected to be when Steve Lavin finally got his talented St. John’s team to buy into the team concept and make a run at the conference title. It hasn’t worked out that way, as bad shot selection and defensive lapses leave the Red Storm just 2-6 in conference play.
  • Georgetown also had high hopes for this season, but a string of injuries, the dismissal of Greg Whittington, and now the loss of Josh Smith for the rest of the season for academic reasons, have left the Hoyas struggling to stay in the middle of the pack. NCAA hopes are likely gone, but they need to pull together to grab an NIT bid.
The Stars
  • The Big East is lucky to have the best college basketball player in the country this year in Doug McDermott. McDermott seems to be exceeding even the loftiest expectations of him in helping lead the Bluejays to the top of the Big East. Averaging 25 points and 7 rebounds a game while sporting high shooting percentages makes him the frontrunner for the Wooden Award.
  • Providence’s Bryce Cotton has always been a very good scorer, but with the loss of Vincent Council to graduation, he also needed to take over at the point guard position, and he has also exceeded expectations. Cotton is scoring over 20 points per game, albeit at a low shooting percentage, and dishing almost 6 assists per game while limiting turnovers.
  • Georgetown’s backcourt of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks has been doing all they can to help keep the team afloat through a tough season. The duo is averaging 34 points per game as well as 7 assists, and doing a good job defending the perimeter.
  • Semaj Christon has followed up a very good freshman season by showing flashes of brilliant play as a sophomore. Scoring 17 points per game while shooting 50% from the field has been a major part of Xavier’s rise to the top half of the conference.
  • Seton Hall’s Fuquan Edwin often goes underappreciated because his biggest strength is on defense and locking down on the opponent’s best scorer. Still, while doing that, Edwin also chips in 14 points per game and continues to improve as a perimeter shooter.

NCAA Tournament teams?

Creighton and Villanova seem to be the only sure things right now, with Xavier and Providence starting to close in a bit. Watch out for Marquette, who may not be the most talented team, but has one of the country’s best coaches in Buzz Williams.
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