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Conference Spotlight: Big East

College Crosse's klieg lights are pointed at the Big East in our latest conference check-in.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Conference Spotlight: Big East

Current League Standings:

Marquette 2-0 0-0 Lehigh, Hofstra 17
Denver 1-0 0-0 Duke 1
St. John's 1-1 0-0 Stony Brook Rutgers
Georgetown 0-1 0-0
Notre Dame ARV
Villanova 0-1 0-0 Johns Hopkins
Providence 0-0 0-0

Wha' Happened?:

Upcoming Games of Earth-Shattering Importance:

  • Marquette at Richmond (February 22): "Wait, what?" says the mob. Yes!!! The Golden Eagles are off to a great start and can put the early part of their season in a chokehold when they visit Richmond on Sunday to take on the undefeated Spiders. Beating Richmond, in their third away game to start the season, would bolster Marquette's case as a top 15 team.
  • Penn State at Villanova (February 21) and Villanova at Drexel (February 24): The Wildcats will look to bounce back against their second Big Ten opponent in as many weeks when they host Penn State on February 21st. Villanova's first month of the season is no joke as the 'Cats will play Drexel three days after facing the Nittany Lions and will eventually throw hands with Penn, Lehigh, and Maryland from March 7th to March 14th.
  • Denver at North Carolina (February 27): The Pioneers face off against the Tar Heels in another major test against an ACC opponent. Beating UNC on February 27th and then Notre Dame one week later on March 7th would give the Pioneers an unparalleled resume as the top team in the nation (not to mention a sweep over the ACC portion of their 2015 schedule) . . . all before St. Patty's Day. If you are looking for a team to tear down the ACC hegemony in 2015, Denver might be your champion.
  • Towson at Georgetown (February 21) and Hofstra at Georgetown (February 28): Staying close with Notre Dame was nice and all, but I am sure the thing that would most impress Hoyas coaches, players, and fans would be beating Towson and Hofstra in the next two weeks. Getting a quality out-of-conference win early in the season is crucial for the Hoyas as Georgetown has major nonconference games against Loyola, Duke, and Virginia still to come later in the season.

"That Guy" Watch:

  • Kyle Whitlow (Marquette): The Orillia, Ontario native poured it on in the second half of Marquette's duel with Hofstra, scoring four goals in the third and fourth quarters. Kyle's fourth goal came with 2:46 left in the fourth quarter and tied the game at ten. Whitlow is Marquette's top returning scorer from last year and will shoulder a heavy offensive burden due to Tyler Melnyk's graduation. With five goals and two assists on the season, Kyle is already ahead of his scoring pace from last year when he had four tallies and a helper -- those points also came against Lehigh and Hofstra -- to start his 2014 campaign. Running with Jordan Greenfield -- a transfer from Fairfield -- should continue to bolster Whitlow's game throughout the season.
  • Connor Cannizzaro (Denver): Connor Cannizzaro burst onto the scene with eight points in his first game as a Pioneer. The Maryland transfer and 2014 ACC Rookie of the Year had an immediate impact on the Denver offense and already has nearly a quarter of the total points he had last year (34). There were some questions as to how Denver would work Cannizzaro into an already potent offense, but after one week, it looks like Cannizzaro has fit in just fine with his new Denver teammates. 
  • Bo Stafford (Georgetown): The Georgetown senior exploded with four goals and an assist against Notre Dame on Saturday. Stafford had 13 goals all of last year, so coming out the gates with four scores in one game against the Fighting Irish marks a potential shift in Stafford's potency in 2015. Stafford will have another opportunity to show some flash against Towson next week, a stiff defensive test that will help place Stafford on the spectrum of offensive weapons in the Big East. 

NCAA Tournament Prognosis

  • League: What looked like a one-bid league before the season started has taken on the flavor of a conference that could morph into a two-bid show if Marquette continues its early season success.
  • Denver: The Pioneers had the most impressive outing of the weekend and now sits comfortably somewhat tenuously as the top one of the top teams in the country (based on the light leveraging of first-place in the latest media poll). Though it's still early in the season, Denver's win over Duke is the only victory against an ACC opponent in all of Division I.
  • Marquette: "Well, all I hear all day long is how great Marquetteia is at this and how wonderful Marquetteia is at that, Marquetteia, Marquetteia, Marquetteia!!" says the internet. As long as the Golden Eagles keep up the good work, you folks better get used to it! If the Eagles beat a tough Richmond squad on the road next weekend, Marquette will have an impressive at-large resume to start the season.