Big East Power Rankings Volume 8
Though they lost in Philadelphia to split the season series with Villanova, Marquette remains in sole possession of first place in the Big East. The biggest story in the conference, though, is Xavier. After a 3-8 start to conference play, they’ve reeled off 5 straight victories and have played themselves on to the bubble. With each team having 2 or 3 regular season games remaining, we’re in for an exciting last week Big East basketball. Someone want to ask Jon Rothstein what month it is?
Best Week: Xavier (Sam & B-Frank)
Worst Week: Butler (Sam), Seton Hall (B-Frank)
1. Marquette Golden Eagles 22-4 (12-3)
Winning on the road isn’t easy in conference play. The Golden Eagles took Villanova to the wire but the career night from Jermaine Samuels did in Marquette. There’s a big issue on this team when they don’t have a reliable #2 offensively. Wojo also really struggled to manage foul trouble in this one as Nova went on a big run with Howard on the bench in foul trouble. Marquette still owns a half game lead in the Big East and has 3 very winnable games left.
2. Villanova Wildcats 21-8 (12-4)
It was an absolutely massive win for Jay Wright and company over Marquette. They struggled in this one, but, as mentioned above, the monster night from Samuels propelled the Wildcats to a crucial win. Just a pair of games remain for the defending National Champs with a home game against Butler before a trip to Seton Hall. The offense needs to get more efficient, Phil Booth and Eric Paschall combined for 21 points on 27 shots.
3. Xavier Musketeers 16-13 (8-8)
One of the hottest teams in all of college basketball, Travis Steele’s team is peaking at the right time. The Muskies have won 5 straight and look like a completely different ball club. Naji Marshall has been on an absolute tear but the biggest factor is strong guard play. Xavier went from worst to 3rd in just 5 games and can play themselves onto the bubble if they keep winning.
4. St. John’s Red Storm 20-9 (8-8)
Every single time it looks like the Johnnies have turned the corner, they lose a home game they shouldn’t. As Rothstein likes to mention, “this team is so Jekyll and Hyde” and they are. The Red Storm are 3-1 against the top two teams in the league and 5-7 against the rest. The Big East is always tough but in a year this wide open and with the talent on the roster, Chris Mullin should do better. I think the Johnnies are still in the tournament but they need to win one of these last games.
5. Georgetown Hoyas 17-11 (7-8)
It’s up for debate whether Creighton is better than their record, but the Hoyas didn’t make their lives any easier by losing in Omaha this past weekend. A nine-point win over reeling DePaul at home in D.C. doesn’t scream at-large bid either. You can go ahead and remove Patrick Ewing from any coach of the year discussions. But hey, at least Mac McClung had another highlight-reel dunk. Georgetown hosts Seton Hall and has a chance to complete the season sweep of DePaul this week.
6. Seton Hall Pirates 16-11 (7-8)
This team makes me drink. They’ve had so many chances to make this season easier and every single one they’ve blown. They had a golden quadrant 1 chance at St. John’s and came out with the flattest start in a long while. The game was over before it really started, and then, as they have so often this year, they made it a game. Myles Powell had two crucial turnovers in the final 70 seconds with the game in reach and the Johnnies iced it at the line. The game at Georgetown is a must win now. If they can do that and split between Marquette and Villanova and they should be locked into the NCAA Tournament.
7. Butler Bulldogs 15-13 (6-9)
You may be surprised that I chose Butler as the team I think had the worst week given that their only game was a loss to Providence. However, with possible resume-boosting games this upcoming week at Villanova and at home against upstart Xavier, a win at home against Providence would’ve given this week’s games all the meaning in the world. Instead, Butler faces an all but impossible battle to reach the NCAA tournament no matter the result of how they play Nova and Xavier. Save for a run at Madison Square Garden, we won’t get the chance to see Kamar Baldwin in this year’s dance.
8. Creighton Bluejays 15-13 (6-9)
Creighton put together their best conference win since Xavier in mid-February in their only test of the week, an 82-69 victory in Omaha against Georgetown. Martin Krampelj had himself a day, with 22 and 10 in one of his most complete performances of the season, but more importantly helped hold Hoya big-man Jesse Govan to just 9 points. Kaleb Joseph may have played his best game ever in a Creighton uniform, knocking down threes and driving to the basket with ease en route to 16 points in just 18 minutes. With the season sweep of the Hoyas in the rearview, the Jays have had all week to prepare to play spoiler at Marquette on the Golden Eagles quest for a Big East title. Avenging that fateful failed out-of-bounds play and blown referee review from way back in January is in order. #RollJays
9. Providence Friars 16-13 (6-10)
The Friars split last week, losing at home to Marquette and beating Butler in a close one in Indianapolis. Road wins are never easy to come by, so at least that’s something Providence can hang their hats on at this point in the season. Ed Cooley stole the show with his white suit jacket on the sidelines against the Bulldogs, further cementing him as my (Sam here) favorite Big East coach not named Greg McDermott. Providence has a chance to make it two straight road victories when they travel to Creighton Wednesday.
10. DePaul Blue Demons 13-13 (5-10)
The Blue Demons couldn’t right the sinking ship in their only game this past week, an 82-73 loss at Georgetown. They’ve now dropped 4 straight and any optimism that was present in Chicago after their relatively respectable start has turned to misery. DePaul has been in the basement many times before, and for at least this year, it is where they will remain. They’ve got a chance to pick up some morale-boosting wins this week as they host St. John’s and Georgetown.