Monday Xavier and BIG EAST Hoops Round-Up!!!
Andy Mac Williams,
Let's begin w/ the BIG EAST Standings. Covid pauses have caused disparities in games played. There's no guarantee all 11 BE teams will get all 20 regular season games in. Villanova is lead dog(6-1) w/ 6 straight wins including Sunday's 82-42 pasting of Butler in Philly. Providence sits 4-1,but is paused for COVID. Last game played Jan. 22 (83-73 win over St Johns). PC will not play Tuesday at Seton Hall (4th straight postponement). Friar's Thursday and Saturday games vs G-town and Butler are still on the books. Providence is supposed to play at Cintas vs Xavier Wed. Jan. 26th. X is solo 3rd ar 3-2(2 losses to Villanova). Marquette is 4th(4-3) w/ 4 straight wins and a trip to Villanova coming Wednesday. UConn, Creighton and St Johns are tied for 5th(2-2). Butler sits 8th(2-3). Seton Hall is 9th(2-4). DePaul is 10th(1-5) after a wild 96-92 home win over SHU last Thursday. Georgetown is 11th (0-3).
Monday's NCAA NETs show Villanova rising to #2 behind only Gonzaga and Arizona. VU sports 4 NET Quad 1 wins(2 over XU). UConn is #15 with Xavier #16. Muskies are 3-3 Quad 1 w/ no bad losses (10-0) Quads 2-4. Despite the midweek loss to Villanova, XU gained in NET because of Oklahoma State's win at Baylor and Iowa State's win at Texas and maybe UC's good win at Wichita State helped a bit?
Seton Hall is #30NET. PC #33. Marquette #41, Creighton#55, St Johns #97, DePaul #98, Butler#146 and Georgetown #211.
Big NET Week for Xavier. Wednesday's game at DePaul(9PM-FS1) is a Quad 2. Sunday's tilt at Marquette(2PM-FS1) is a Quad 1 win for Muskies(Top 75 on the road). Four BE teams are rated Top 25 this week in both AP and Coaches' Polls(Villanova !!, XU 20, PC 21 and UConn 25).
BIG EAST Weekly Awards. Muskie wing Colby Jones makes the 5 man Honor Roll w/ a great gammes vs Creighton(16 points-9 rebounds) and 10 boards in the loss to Villanova. Only Zach Freemantle among Xavier's Top 7 has not grabbed BE hardware so far this season. That will change soon IMHO if #32 continues to play like he did Saturday against Creighton(13 points-11 rebounds and +13 n a game XU won by 7 points. Creighton PG Ryan Nembhard was named BE Frosh of the Week(18 points -6 assists at Xavier Saturday. Muskies wore him out though w/ constant ball pressure from Scruggs and Odom and X drubbed CU 51-39 in second half(won game 80-73). Nembhard has won FOW 5 times now.
There's just one BIG EAST game Tuesday Jan. 18th(Butler at UConn-7PM-FS1). PC at Seton Hall is postponed due to Covid. Providence is short 3 point sniper A.J. Reeves(broken finger). He was hurt New Years Day at DePaul. He might be close to returning??
DEEP THOUGHTS?? on Xavier's win over Creighton:
Muskies found their "A" game when they played Zach and Jack(two BIGS) together. In about 14 minutes Muskies outscored Blue Jays 45-24. X flipped the script in every category(rebounding-defense-turnovers-FG%-FTs-paint points-fastbreak points).
Xavier played mostly pack line defense w/ the BIGS out there-not relying on zones to hide anybody. Jack and Zach moved rheir feet-switched well to smaller players off ball screens- swept the glass holding CU mainly to one shot and done.
The Defense was generally good(producing 8 kills). X got running and thrived on fastbreak. The bench outscored Creighton 25-5. Muskies scored 38 in the paint and made 15 of their last 17 free throws so it was a 2 by 2 game w/ the quixotic 3 point FG just a complimentary piece(5-16). 30 plus deflections made Travis Steele smile along w/ strong work on 50.50 balls-11 steals and 21 turnovers forced.
Zach and Jack can play in tight late game situations because unlike most BIGs they both can make FTs. Paul Scruggs abd Dwon Odom placed withering ball pressure on CU PG Nembhard and wore him out. Colby Jones limited Ryan Hawkins to just 8 shots. TWO BIGS will not work all the time. Some zone is going to be used also. But teams now have to expect and prepare for the BIG look w/ Freemantle returning to form and freed up by Nunge to play a hybrid stretch 4 role. Zach looked like he was enjoying himself(4 dunks-getting into passing lanes-staying in front of his man-walling up in the post).
Tuesday we will post a SCOUT on DePaul. Blue Demons rebound well and can score in back court w/ Javon Freeman Liberty(21PPG), PG Jalen Terry(28 points vs SHU) and lefty bull(6-5 225) David Jones.