February is here and March Madness is just a few weeks away. Half of the Big East’s conference games are now in the books with one more month of games left to go. Here is a review on where things stand:
Marquette is dominating the Big East
The No. 10 Marquette Golden Eagles are on track to win the Big East’s regular season championship. They are undefeated in conference play with a 9-0 record and 2.5 games ahead of the Butler Bulldogs who are in second place. If there is something that sets the Golden Eagles apart from the rest of the Big East this season, it is their statistical dominance over conference opponents.
In games through Feb. 1, Marquette averaged a conference-high 87.2 points per game in conference play while allowing opponents to score a conference-low 58.7 points per game. The Golden Eagles’ scoring margin is also a conference-high 28.6 points per game. To show how dominant Marquette is in the conference, the Butler Bulldogs are second in the Big East in scoring, with a margin of +5.7 points per game.
Natisha Hiedeman leads the conference in scoring at 23 points per game in Big East play.
The Golden Eagles also lead the Big East in rebounding with a margin of +14.9 per game despite only having one of the top-10 rebounders in the conference in Erika Davenport. The Golden Eagles have seven players who average at least 3 rebounds per game in conference play, showing that this is a true team effort.
There are still nine more conference games left for Marquette. Barring a significant collapse, they will win the regular season championship and could be one of the highest seeded teams in the NCAA Tournament next month.
Big East games of the week
Seton Hall Pirates (13-8, 5-5 Big East) vs. Butler Bulldogs (17-4, 7-3 Big East)
When: Sunday, Feb. 3, at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Walsh Gymnasium, South Orange, NJ
How to watch: Big East Digital Network
Notes: Seton Hall and Butler face each other for the second time this season. In their last meeting, the Bulldogs narrowly won 62-59 on Jan. 4. The Bulldogs have lost their last two games coming into this contest but they were to DePaul and Marquette. Still a win on Sunday could help the Bulldogs’ chances of finishing at least second in the conference standings. The Pirates also have a good chance to finish in the upper half of the conference. A win this afternoon will help Seton Hall boost their NCAA Tournaments hopes.
DePaul Blue Demons (15-6, 6-3 Big East) vs. No. 10 Marquette Golden Eagles (18-3, 9-0 Big East)
When: Sunday, Feb. 3, at 2 p.m. ET
Where: McGrath-Phillips Arena, Chicago, IL
How to watch: Big East Digital Network
Notes: The two top teams in the conference will face off for the final time in the regular season. DePaul’s non-conference schedule was quite difficult, so they should be able to make the NCAA Tournament without any hiccups. However, a win today will be sweet revenge after their 96-63 loss to the Golden Eagles on Jan. 4. Marquette is in the driver’s seat to win the conference regular season championship outright. But with no ranked opponents remaining on the schedule, the Golden Eagles will have little room for error to earn a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Elsewhere in the Big East
- Outside of Marquette, Butler and DePaul, the conference is still very even. Villanova, Seton Hall and Providence have identical 5-5 conference records. Creighton and Georgetown have 4-6 records. Of these teams, the Wildcats appear to have the most momentum given that they are on a three-game winning streak. Villanova’s last win was a 53-33 win over Providence last Friday.
- St. John’s and Xavier are tied at ninth place with identical 2-8 records. The Red Storm will host the Musketeers on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET where they should be favored to win though Xavier won 80-76 against Seton Hall on the road last Friday.