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Key non-conference Big East games to watch

Jeffrey Lack/Icon Sportswire

The Big East will have its fair share of exciting games during the non-conference portion of its schedule.

With the college basketball season set to start next weekend, the teams in the Big East conference will get set to tangle with some of the best teams the nation has to offer.

Villanova’s championship run most definitely elevated the profile of the conference and more eyeballs should be tuned into Big East basketball this season. What follows below are showdowns to be circled.

Here are 30 in particular to whet your whistle.

Marquette vs. Vanderbilt, November 11

This game will be part of the Veteran’s Classic and will be played in Annapolis. On an opening night when the rest of the conference feasts on cupcakes, Marquette will play a veritable force in Vanderbilt.

Villanova at Purdue, November 14

As part of the Gavitt Games, this may be the premiere game of the showcase. The defending champs will get a stern test facing Caleb Swanigan and the Boilermakers on the road.

Maryland at Georgetown, November 15

These two teams played a classic last season. As D.C./Maryland border enemies, expect nothing less again.

Wisconsin at Creighton, November 15

This figures to be an intense battle and the game will feature two great duos in Creighton’s Maurice Watson and Marcus Foster and Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig.

Seton Hall at Iowa, November 17

Here is another Gavitt Games special. Peter Jok and the Hawkeyes will present a formidable challenge for the Isaiah Whitehead-less Pirates.

Marquette vs. Michigan, November 17

As part of the 2K Classic to be played at Madison Square Garden, this contest will represent a chance for programs looking for an identity to notch a quality win.

Georgetown vs. Oregon, November 21

This will be a first round game in the Maui Invitational, and if Georgetown can score a win hereand against a squad in Oregon that figures to be a top-10 teamit would go a long way in giving the Hoyas some major confidence early on.

St. John’s vs. Michigan State, November 23

As part of the first round in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, St. John’s will get a close-up look at one of the country’s better teams in Michigan State. Watch out for Spartans’ freshman Miles Bridges.

Butler vs. Vanderbilt, November 24

As part of the Las Vegas Invitational, what you will likely see in this game is two good teams who play a similar brand of basketball.

Seton Hall vs. Florida, November 24

As part of the Advocare Invitational, the Pirates will first take on a hungry Gators squad who are looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year hiatus.

Providence vs. Memphis, November 25

This game, which is part of the Emerald Coast Classic, will be a way for each young program to build confidence with a win. Call it a toss-up.

Butler at Utah, November 28

While the Utes loses a lot from last season, the Bulldogs have a stern challenge in heading to Utah for this affair.

Xavier at Baylor, December 3

We have yet to mention a game involving Xavier and if they want to move up the polls in the early going, this is a game that the Musketeers will likely need to win.

Rhode Island at Providence, December 3

Considering the stately rivalry, and the fact that Rhode Island is expected to be one of the country’s most improved ball clubs, it may be the Rams who may hold the upper hand here.

DePaul at Northwestern, December 3

As a team that is still rebuilding, the Blue Demons did not set up a challenging schedule. However, this is a Chicago rivalry and it is a game that will be important for both programs.

Seton Hall vs. California, December 7

The Pirates will surely have fun playing in paradise while participating in the Pearl Harbor Invitational. Watching the Pirates’ Angel Delgado and Golden Bears’ Ivan Rabb go to battle will be worth the price of admission.

Xavier at Colorado, December 7

Colorado figures to be a solid squad and the mile-high altitude may be a big factor for the Musketeers in this affair.

Villanova vs. Notre Dame, December 10

This will be part of the Never Forget Tribute Classic to be played in Newark, New Jersey and it will pit two great programs against each other. Expect Villanova to exploit the Irish’s inexperience after Notre Dame lost Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste.

Wisconsin at Marquette, December 10

When these two teams play, you can throw out the proverbial record book. These rivals don’t like each other and the intensity will be insane in this contest.

Cincinnati at Butler, December 10

These two teams played an epic game in Cincinnati last year and expect more fireworks in the rematch in Indianapolis.

Utah at Xavier, December 10

As mentioned before, Utah absorbed heavy personnel loss  (Jakob Poeltl, etc.) and the Musketeers should hold the major edge here, especially at home.

Seton Hall vs, South Carolina, December 12

The Pirates will take on the Gamecocks at Madison Square Garden as part of the Under Armour Classic. South Carolina is closing in on an NCAA Tournament berth after being oh so close last season.

Georgetown at Syracuse, December 17

Here is another contest of two bitter rivals. Syracuse is out for revenge after losing last season’s contest in D.C.

Butler vs. Indiana, December 17

As part of Indiana’s prestigious Crossroads Classic, these two state powers will do battle in Butler’s backyard of Indianapolis. While not a home game, Butler will be amped to played a major power in front of its fans.

St. John’s vs. Penn State, December 18

This is a sneaky-good matchup. This is actually a home game for St. John’s, as it will be played at Madison Square Garden as part of the annual Holiday Festival. It’s a contest that will feature two of the best 2016 recruiting classes.

Creighton at Arizona State, December 20

Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils figure to be a lot better this season and Creighton better be careful here. The Bluejays lost to Arizona State last season in Omaha and will be looking to make up for it.

St. John’s at Syracuse, December 21

Here is another old Big East showdown. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim missed last year’s game and it will cool to see him and Red Storm head coach Chris Mullin match wits.

Georgetown vs. Connecticut, January 14, 2017

Here is yet another old Big East battle. Georgetown lost last season’s game in Storrs and it figures to have a better chance for a win in D.C.

Xavier at Cincinnati, January 26, 2017

Like Marquette/Wisconsin, here is another intense in-state rivalry. These intra-city rivals go to war every time they play and both teams figure to be ranked when they meet next January.

Villanova vs. Virginia, January 29, 2017

Perhaps the best non-conference game of the Big East schedule will be the last. Virginia and Villanova will likely be in the top-10 when they meet in late January, and expect this game to come down to defense. By the way, this is the second contest in a home-and-home series. Villanova will be looking to avenge last season’s loss in Charlottesville.

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