Big East Power Rankings Volume 5
Since we released last week’s Big East Power rankings on Saturday after games were complete, 3 teams were idle this past go-round. However, a lack in quantity of games didn’t result in any less excitement. The conference’s two best teams met struggles this week, as Marquette fell to St. John’s in Milwaukee and Villanova was pushed to the brink by a severely undermanned Creighton squad in Philadelphia. Elsewhere, the rest of the conference continued to beat up on each other. Let’s dive in to volume 5.
Best Week: St. John’s (Sam & B-Frank)
Worst Week: Providence (Sam), Xavier (B-Frank)
1. Villanova Wildcats 19-4 (10-0)
With two home games, it’s not surprising that Villanova picked up two wins this week, but the fashion in which they did so surprised many. They outlasted Georgetown in a 12 point victory over a team who desperately needed a resume win on Sunday, but Wednesday’s contest against Creighton proved much more difficult than the Wildcats anticipated. If not for some late missed free-throws, Nova would’ve ended up with their first conference loss of the season. But luck was on their side and they dominated the overtime period en route to a 66-59 win.
2. Marquette Golden Eagles 19-4 (8-2)
Marquette might have been caught looking ahead to this weekend’s showdown with Villanova as they took one in the teeth mid-week to St. John’s. For the first time all year it seems the Golden Eagles didn’t have an answer down the stretch. Markus Howard and the rest of the team really struggled from 3 early in the game and that is the easiest way to beat this team. The complimentary pieces need to step up when Howard is getting slowed down by opponents and we failed to see that this week. Saturday’s game against Villanova will dictate the regular season title race, a loss and Nova has the title locked up.
3. St. John’s Red Storm 17-6 (5-5)
The best (and arguably most important) win of the Big East season not belonging to Villanova or Marquette is St. John’s upset one-point victory over Marquette this past Tuesday. The Shamorie Ponds show rolled into Milwaukee and escaped with a victory by the shallowest of margins, but it’s a win nonetheless. We’ve begrudgingly got to admit now that St. John’s may actually be as good as their record indicates. If they can keep playing well, they’ll likely be the conference’s only other NCAA tourney bid.
T4. Georgetown Hoyas 15-8 (5-5)
I thought Georgetown played one of their best games on the season at Villanova on Sunday. They hung tough on the road and managed without their star Jessie Govan who dealt with foul trouble. The young team showed their age late game relying on the jump shot too often, but these are teachable moments for Patrick Ewing. Even better is they followed that performance up with a road win against a hungry Providence team. The Hoyas have a home game against Butler this weekend before a trip to Newark next week, a pair of wins and we are possibly talking about Georgetown as a bubble team.
T4. Seton Hall Pirates 13-9 (4-6)
The Pirates had the entire week off to prep for Creighton this Saturday in Newark. The team needs a win and fortunately for them, they have a nice string of games at home against beatable teams. The key is playing a full 40 minutes and limiting turnovers. They played a phenomenal final 6 minutes against Butler and a forgettable first 34. If they can find a happy medium and get players not named Myles Powell involved in the scoring early, they should have smooth sailing against a gritty, but undermanned Creighton team.
6. DePaul Blue Demons 12-9 (4-6)
DePaul also had the week off in preparation for tomorrow’s road test against Xavier – who finds themselves on a 5 game losing streak. The Blue Demons have surprised some people this season, but not enough to make any waves nationally. “Let us exceed your already low expectations” has been the team’s calling card this year, but if they can win Tuesday at home against Marquette they’d be back to .500 in conference play. That would be no small feat for a program who hasn’t sniffed success since conference realignment.
7. Creighton Bluejays 13-10 (4-6)
The Bluejays’ 76-54 win over Xavier on Sunday may have been their most complete conference win to date, but it came at a price. Freshman sharpshooter Marcus Zegarowski broke his pinky and won’t be re-evaluated until before this coming Tuesday’s game at Xavier. With him and TyShon Alexander out for this past Wednesday’s contest at Villanova, chances for a competitive game from Creighton were bleak. Pair that with the fact that it was Damien Jefferson’s first game back from a broken ankle and Connor Cashaw played 39 minutes with a bum shoulder and you’d be surprised to hear that Creighton had a chance to win the game in regulation.
However, free throw shooting has haunted this team at key points for many years, and that game was no different – resulting in an OT loss. Moral victories mean nothing though, and two road games this week at Seton Hall and Xavier could sink the bruised and battered Jays hopes at finishing near the middle of the pack in conference play.
8. Butler Bulldogs 13-10 (4-6)
Butler is another team that has yet to play since our last edition of the Big East power rankings. They survived the frantic rally from Seton Hall and frankly should have cruised to a 20+ point win. For whatever reason, this team cannot close and Kamar Baldwin has been shaky. If he can get going this team will be fine. The Dawgs have a road trip to Georgetown this weekend followed by a trip to St. John’s.
9. Providence Friars 13-10 (3-7)
Ed Cooley’s team is very much on the ropes right now. The home loss this week at Georgetown was a killer. Not because it was a bad loss, because it wasn’t, but because they simply are running out of games to win. They need to stop the bleeding and fast because a loss at St. John’s on Saturday and I think a 6th straight NCAA Tournament is out of reach barring a miraculous run at MSG. However, if they beat the Johnnies, the Friars have a second wind and can recover from the rough start to conference play.
10. Xavier Musketeers 11-12 (3-7)
Xavier just can’t figure it out this season. They’re riding a conference-worst 5 game losing streak after a loss on the road in Omaha on Sunday. However, they’ve had all week to prep for two home games this week: tomorrow against DePaul and Wednesday against Creighton. Those are two winnable games, but the Musketeers are just playing spoiler at this point. An exodus of talent both on the court and sideline has Xavier as the only Big East team at this point in the season with a sub .500 record, which I’d (Sam here) like to say I don’t mind one bit.