Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Green's five Big East conference games to watch for in 2019-20

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

In the final season of its current 10-team format, the Big East conference aims to continue to be among the cream of the crop of the power conferences. 

With the Big East being the only league to have all 10 of their teams make the postseason in 2018-19, each and every game should produce high drama, but here are five games which stand out in the 2019-20 conference schedule.

1) Villanova at Marquette- Sat. Jan. 4, 2 p.m. ET

Despite losing the Sam and Joey Hauser in the off-season to the transfer portal, Marquette still has the services of sharpshooter Markus Howard, while Villanova returns a good chunk of last season’s rotation highlighted by juniors Colin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels.

Last season’s meeting at Fiserv Forum proved to be a showcase for the Big East as the Golden Eagles eeked out a 66-65 win over the Wildcats behind 38 points from Howard. With the first meeting coming early in conference play, the winner will be in a prime spot in the Big East and could go a long way to shaping the regular season conference title.

2) Seton Hall at St. John’s- Sat. Jan. 18, Noon

With both schools making the NCAA tournament last season, this season's meeting at Madison Square Garden should have plenty of juice in the peak of winter.

The Pirates are a trendy pick to make noise in the Big East this season as leading scorer Myles Powell elected to return for his senior campaign.

With the departure of Chris Mullin and the arrival of Mike Anderson as coach, he will have plenty to work with despite the early departure of leading scorer Shamorie Ponds to the NBA. Both teams split the last season’s meetings with the difference being a combined 10 points.

3) Villanova at Providence- Sat. Jan. 25, 1 p.m.

The Friars have proven to be a thorn in the Wildcats’ side in recent times with an upset on Feb. 14, 2018 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and an overtime loss later that season in the Big East championship game.

While Villanova went 3-0 last season, expect Providence to bounce back this season with a healthy A.J. Reeves and a seasoned veteran in Alpha Diallo leading the charge. The final Saturday in January should be a quality matinee game at what is referred to by fans as “The Dunk” in Providence.

4) Marquette at Georgetown- Sat. Jan. 18, 2 p.m.

Both teams split last season’s meetings with epic finishes— Sam Hauser’s go-ahead jumper with under a minute left to aid in a 74-71 win over Georgetown and Marquette being on the wrong end in the regular-season finale in Milwaukee, 86-84.

Georgetown has arguably its best returning roster in the Patrick Ewing era with sophomores James Akinjo and Mac McClung leading the way.

5) Georgetown at Villanova- Sat. Jan. 11, Noon

Despite Villanova’s recent dominance in the series, Georgetown got up from the ground and delivered an unexpected knockout in an 85-73 win last season at the Verizon Center to split the season series at 1-1.

With the majority of the players back on both teams, expect this one to be produce plenty of scoring at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia.