Big East Basketball is back where it belongs, confident, cocky and competitive. We are 14 games into the season and all 9 teams in the conference are over .500, 4 teams are ranked and it was clear on Wednesday night when conference play started, that these teams were going to fight and compete, night in and night out all winter. Wednesday night featured a double-header that highlighted 4 teams who proved to the entire conference, that Nova is not just going to run away with the Big East this year like they would in years prior. The first matchup of the night featured a showdown between two first year head coaches. LaVall Jordan for Butler, and the legendary Patrick Ewing, making his triumphant return to Georgetown. Both teams were off to a great start to begin the season and a 1-0 record in conference play would be huge. The game lived up to the hype to say the least and it was the type of ballgame that had you sitting in the front of your chair the entire night. Late in the second half with the game tied at 73, Junior center, Jessie Govan hit a jump hook of sorts at the side of the basket to give the Hoyas a two point lead with only 6 seconds to play. Instead of calling a timeout, Butler proceeded to push the ball down the court and try to win the game with a three. Butler guard Kamar Baldwin missed the three, but Sean McDermott who came off the bench and had a huge contribution on the offensive glass the entire night, tipped the ball in at the buzzer to send the game into OT.
The first OT was not enough to divide these two teams as both scored 8 points, and we were heading to a second OT in D.C. In the second overtime, the Kelan Martin show took over. The senior forward took over the ballgame and finished his display off with a game winning floater with 2.6 seconds to go, giving the Butler Bulldogs a huge 91, 89 win.
This game was competitive from start to finish and showed glimpses of what vintage Big East basketball is all about, what it is supposed to be like, gritty and competitive as heck.
The second matchup of the night featured a battle between the 6th ranked team in the country, the Xavier musketeers, who were welcomed by the Marquette Golden Eagles who were looking to pull off a stunner on a cold Wisconsin night. The atmosphere was rocking the entire night, making the Musketeers rattled and distracted the entire night. Some people say that home court really does not play to a teams advantage but it was evident that the atmosphere had some what of an impact on the game. For example, if Marquette were to go into Cincinnati to face Xavier in the road, they would probably get blown out, being that Xavier is the more talented squad. You want to play in front of your fans, especially during conference play and Marquette was happy to have their crowd behind them on Wednesday night. Marquette knew if they had any chance of winning the game they would need to have a big performance from one of their key players. Senior guard, Andrew Rowsey did just that. He had an absolute field day putting up 31 points, keeping his team in the game late and giving them a chance to win the ball game down the stretch. Xavier would have none of it. however. Thanks to their superstar Trevon Bluiett’s production late in the game and the team coming up with big stops late, Xavier came away with a huge conference road win by the score of 91-87. Winning a true road game is never an easy thing to do and it makes it that much more difficult when it is done against a conference opponent so you have to credit Xavier’s grit. It shows a lot about their team and their Character and also sends a message to Nova that they are here to stay and compete.
This double-header showed a lot about the Big East conference this year. It showed how competitive of a conference this can potentially be. This year has potential to be just like the good old days where the Big East was the best conference in basketball and every team hated each others guts. Georgetown vs Syracuse, Georgetown vs Villanova. Men thrown like they were rag dolls if they dare entered the paint, blood spewed on hard fouls. We need that in our game right now, it creates must see TV and an excitement that some might say is lacking right now in college basketball, and certainly is lacking in the Big East. To conclude, if you are a college basketball fan and love watching conference opponents compete on a nightly bases, you need to tune into some Big East basketball this year and listen to Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery because as they would say, the Big East is officially BACK BABY!