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This week in the Big East: Villanova has big games this weekend against Marquette, DePaul

First up, the Wildcats face the Blue Demons in a Friday, brunch-time matchup. Plus, Butler still leads the conference standings after four games and the Big East overall looks competitive from top to bottom.

Michigan v Villanova
The Villanova women’s basketball team will have a game on Sunday to celebrate the birthday of their mascot, Will D. Cat. Now, if only there were pictures of their team.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

In the Big East, the talk often centers around two teams: Marquette and DePaul. Both teams have won or shared the Big East conference title since the 2014-15 season and both teams have been ranked for most of the current season until this week, when the Blue Demons dropped out.

Marquette and DePaul will be featured in this week’s top games, facing a common opponent that has been consistently strong over the years, even without the accolades of the aforementioned teams: the Villanova Wildcats.

Villanova: The mark of consistency the Big East

There are some college head coaches who have been in their current programs for over 30 years. For example, UConn’s Geno Auriemma started in 1985 and North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell started in 1986. But Villanova’s Harry Perretta started his tenure with the Wildcats in 1978, two years before they joined the conference.

Over the past 41 years, Perretta has led the Wildcats to a 733-458 record, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances including last year, an Elite Eight appearance in 2003, and AIAW Final Four appearance in 1982. Villanova is also going for its seventh consecutive 20-win season which would extend the current program record. Though Villanova hasn’t won a national championship or had superstar recruits like some of their conference rivals, the Wildcats have remained consistent performers in the Big East during most of Peretta’s tenure. All things considered, he is very good at getting the most out of his players.

This year’s Wildcats team features a trio of players — senior guard Kelly Jekot, senior guard Adrianna Hahn and junior forward Mary Gedaka — who are averaging a combined 39.7 points per game. These players aren’t the conference’s most well-known stars — like Marquette’s Natisha Hiedeman and Allazia Blockton or DePaul’s Ashton Millender — but together, Jekot, Hahn and Gedaka have more than held their own and Villanova has an opportunity to show that this week.

Villanova will host Marquette in a Friday, Jan. 11, brunch-time contest and DePaul on Sunday. If the Wildcats win these games, it won’t just be a boost for the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament hopes, but a possible sign that Villanova could make a long tournament run like they did in 2003.

Elsewhere in the Big East

Butler remains undefeated in Big East play with a 4-0 record and is on an eight-game win streak overall. The Bulldogs’ most impressive victory was a 66-45 blowout against St. John’s on Sunday. Junior guard Kristen Spolyar scored 23 points and grabbed 6 rebounds to lead Butler in the blowout, while Qadasha Hoppie was the only Red Storm player to score in double figures, with 14 points.

Every team in the Big East has at least one win in conference play. The last two to get a win were Xavier (10-5) and Providence (9-7). On Sunday, the Musketeers won against Seton Hall (9-5) in overtime, 63-62, while the Friars upset Villanova, 67-61 at home. It’s early, but Big East conference play should be very competitive from top to bottom over the next several weeks.

Big East games of the week

Villanova Wildcats (10-4) vs. No. 15 Marquette Golden Eagles (12-3)

When: Friday, Jan. 11, at 11 a.m. ET

Where: Finneran Pavilion, Villanova, Pa.

How to watch: FOX Sports Go

Notes: This weekend is all about Villanova! And this game provides the Wildcats a prime opportunity to forget about Sunday’s upset defeat against Providence. Villanova will be the underdogs this time and they will play the game early in the day on their home court. Will that be enough to give them an edge over Marquette, who has steadily moved up the national rankings?

Villanova Wildcats (10-4) vs. DePaul Blue Demons (10-5)

When: Sunday, Jan. 13, at 1 p.m. ET

Where: Finneran Pavilion, Villanova, Pa.

How to watch: FOX Sports Go

Notes: Whether they win or lose, the Wildcats will not have much time to ponder over the result from the Marquette matchup. They will have to prepare to face DePaul, who is having a rather disappointing season. In fact, they are coming off a 96-63 blowout loss to Marquette on Sunday. Last year, the Blue Demons lost 84-58 to the Wildcats when they played at Finneran Pavilion, so Villanova is definitely able to win big again come Sunday.

Full Big East schedule