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Big East Quick Hitters: Opening Night

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

With college basketball returning tonight, here are some miscellaneous notes and thoughts on the Big East teams in action tonight.


1. The eight Big East opponents tonight combined to go 0-11 against high major conferences last season.


2. On opening night last season, the eight Big East teams in action totaled 686 points. Four scored at least 90 points, with St. John's notching 119 against Mississippi Valley State. Only Butler failed to reach 60, defeating IUPUI 56-47.


3. Villanova opens with a Big Five matchup for the first time since 2003. Due to a scheduling quirk, that game tipped off at 12:03 a.m. at Temple's Liacourus Center. Allan Ray and Randy Foye each scored 20 points in the 73-48 Villanova win.


4. Creighton is 8-1 all-time against St. Thomas. The one loss came in 1953 on the day color television sets first went on sale.


5. Creighton's defense will have its hands full tonight. St. Thomas made 11.1 3-pointers per game last season, the fifth-highest mark in D-I.


6. St. Thomas associate head coach Mike Maker was once an assistant under Dana Altman at Creighton in 2007-08.


7. When Thad Matta last coached at Butler, the Bulldogs were in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. The conference would change its name to the Horizon League for the following season. The Midwestern Collegiate Conference held that name from 1985 to 2001.


8. In Matta's lone season at Butler in 2000-01, no one hit more field goals for the Bulldogs than LaVall Jordan. Now, Matta is tasked with replacing him as a head coach.


9. Adama Sanogo will draw the hype in UConn's opener, but his backup is someone to look out for as well. The 7-2 freshman Donovan Clingan has drawn rave reviews and should see plenty of time to spell Sanogo.


10. Connecticut will have the honor of welcoming Stonehill - alma mater of Providence head coach Ed Cooley - to D-I. KenPom gives the Huskies a 99.7 percent chance of victory.


11. The only Big East team with less than a 90 percent chance of victory tonight according to KenPom is DePaul. The Blue Demons are given an 89 percent chance at beating Loyola MD. DePaul opens the year at No. 88, while Loyola MD starts at No. 238 in the KenPom rankings.


12. DePaul's guard rotations will be interesting to watch. Jalen Terry, Umoja Gibson, Ahamad Bynum, Philmon Gebrewhit, and top-100 recruit Zion Cruz should all get time. With that depth, the Blue Demons should be able to go high-tempo. That's without highly touted transfer Caleb Murphy, too.


13. St. John's also had a guard rotation situation to watch. Andre Curbelo and Dylan Addae-Wusu both came off the bench in the exhibitions for the Red Storm, with Rafael Pinzon and Montez Mathis each getting a start over them. Their usage will also be something to watch for as St. John's takes on Merrimack.


14. Sophomore forward O'Mar Stanley started both exhibitions for St. John's. He played fewer than 20 minutes in each and averaged 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. He played in 30 games last year as a freshman but was one of the last options off the bench. Stanley's usage is something to monitor in the opener. He could be in line for a bump up in playing time.


15. Zach Freemantle was named to the Preseason All-Big East First Team before last season, but the junior did not even receive an honorable mention after a disappointing year. Perhaps his 22-point, 13-rebound exhibition performance hints at a turnaround for him under new head coach Sean Miller.


16. Xavier is 22-0 in season openers at the Cintas Center. Five of those wins came in Sean Miller's first stint with the program.


17. Shaka Smart talked about rebounding intervals for transfer Zach Wrightsil. His goal for the newcomer? One rebound every four minutes.


18. Stevie Mitchell did not start a game as a freshman for Marquette. That probably changes tonight. He started both scrimmages for the Golden Eagles, and although Smart did not officially give a starting lineup, he hinted that this is a good indication. Mitchell was a top-100, four-star recruit coming out of high school.


19. Five of the eight Big East coaches in action tonight are in their first or second years in the conference. Tony Stubblefield and Shaka Smart will both begin their second Big East seasons tonight. Kyle Neptune, Thad Matta, and Sean Miller will all make their Big East head coaching debuts.


20. Last season, Seton Hall, DePaul, and Georgetown opened the season after the first night, with the Hoyas starting on Saturday. This year, the three teams starting late are Providence, Georgetown, and Seton Hall. Providence and Georgetown open their seasons tomorrow night, while Seton Hall gets Wednesday night by itself.

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