Every week, I'll be bringing you everything you need to know about the Big East. From power rankings and awards to thoughts on the conference and games you can't miss, this is your weekly one-stop-shop for all your Big East basketball needs.
After taking a week off this column, we're back! And what a whirlwind this week was.
This week saw a big shakeup in the player of the year conversation, the firm establishment of a top tier in the conference, and bad losses for the at-large cases of teams outside the top group.
As voted on by our staff weekly.
1. Xavier Musketeers
Record: 14-3 (6-0)
Last week: 1
Despite a high-scoring home win over Creighton, the Musketeers did not move at all in the computer rankings. Xavier has won a lot - ten in a row, to be exact - but these are all games the team was supposed to win. Getting the monkey off the back at Villanova was huge, but it feels less impressive after the Wildcats lost at DePaul and Butler. Like UConn, this is a team with issues. The defense in particular has been among the worst in the conference so far. How Xavier looks today against Marquette will be telling. How the team looks when it finally goes on the road to face a top-tier Big East opponent will tell us exactly how good this team is.
2. Providence Friars
Record: 14-4 (6-1)
Last week: 2
Losing on the road to a very good Creighton team with Jared Bynum injured and two of his backups playing through illness is far from the end of the world. That said, allowing 46 points in the paint has nothing to do with the issues in the backcourt. Ed Croswell looked outmatched by Ryan Kalkbrenner, so Ed Cooley will need to figure out a better way to handle him when Creighton visits Providence on Valentine's Day. Next up is a trip to Marquette followed by a home game against DePaul. Stealing a win at Marquette would be huge.
3. Connecticut Huskies
Record: 15-3 (4-3)
Last week: 3
How the mighty have fallen. After all but locking up a No. 1 seed with a 14-0 start to the season, the Huskies are 1-3 in their last four games. Thankfully for them, all three losses were competitive and on the road against some of the best teams in the conference. If the Huskies can win at home and sweep the bottom tier of the conference, they can get through the regular season with only one more loss. This team has flaws, both in the backcourt on offense and at power forward on defense, but it is still one of the best teams in the league - and the country. Games this week against St. John's and at Seton Hall are ones UConn will be favored in but could still lose. Winning both is a must.
4. Marquette Golden Eagles
Record: 14-4 (6-1)
Last week: 4
Marquette may be the most fun team to watch in the Big East. The Golden Eagles were impressive this week, joining Xavier and Providence in the "beat UConn at home" club. With wins over UConn and Creighton, you don't have to try too hard to argue that Marquette is currently the best team in the Big East. A win at Xavier today would make that an even easier point to make.
5. Creighton Bluejays
Record: 10-8 (4-3)
Last week: 5
Beating Providence at home is the team's best win since their six-game losing streak. Scheierman and Kalkbrenner were outstanding Saturday afternoon, and the defense looked as good as it has all season. The record may not be pretty, but the Bluejays have good wins and have defended their home floor in conference play. Should they continue to do that, they'll be in very good shape. KenPom thinks Greg McDermott has a top-20 team in the nation.
6. Seton Hall Pirates
Record: 11-8 (4-4)
Last week: 7
Don't look now, but the Pirates are right back in this. Three wins in a row has Seton Hall back at .500 with a date with UConn on Wednesday. I'm not sold about this defense against good offenses, but they can dominate against mediocre ones. As long as someone has a good day on offense, this group can compete with anyone.
7. Butler Bulldogs
Record: 11-8 (3-5)
Last week: 8
This team continues to struggle away from home, but the Bulldogs are 8-2 at home. That includes a win over Kansas State, one that looks very good right now. Jalen Thomas and Eric Hunter Jr. brought some energy against Villanova, and Ali Ali made some plays, too. With no bad losses and a high-quality win, the Bulldogs are absolutely still alive in the at-large conversation. It'll take some big wins, but this group is capable of that. The question is if they can do it away from home.
8. St. John's Red Storm
Record: 12-6 (2-5)
Last week: 9
The good: St. John's finally won another Big East game. The bad: they still don't have a quality win. Beating KenPom No. 83 Butler is their best win on the season, and the Red Storm still have not won a road game. Combine the win total with the play on the field, and this team screams NIT right now. I still can't take this team seriously until it wins a road game.
9. DePaul Blue Demons
Record: 8-10 (2-5)
Last week: 10
This team has a ton of heart, and it sounds like Caleb Murphy should be back soon. Nick Ongenda should also be back at some point this season. Da'Sean Nelson is a stud, and Javan Johnson gets some tough buckets. This is a team that will absolutely play spoiler down the stretch once healthy, and the record does not tell the full story.
10. Villanova Wildcats
Record: 8-10 (2-5)
Last week: 6
It is a new era in Villanova. The Wildcats lost at DePaul for the first time since 2008, the followed that up by continuing their Hinkle horrors. Justin Moore isn't back, Jordan Longino is injured, and Angelo Brizzi left the program, so the backcourt is in rough shape. Starting point guard Chris Arcidiacono put up 3 points in 62 minutes this week. It is going to take a run at MSG for the Wildcats to make the dance this year unless something miraculous happens.
11. Georgetown Hoyas
Record: 5-13 (0-7)
Last week: 11
Georgetown is on the road twice this week, so I don't see the streak ending. Nothing new here.
Players of the Week: Souley Boum, G, Xaiver; Baylor Scheierman, F, Creighton
Boum: 26 points, 8 assists, 0 turnovers vs. Creighton
Scheierman: averaged 22 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4 assists vs. Xavier and Providence
Boum was electric Wednesday night, playing a nearly perfect game in Xavier's home win over Creighton. Scheierman had a pair of strong outings, nearly keeping pace with Boum on Wednesday night and then knocking down three triples in Creighton's win over Providence on Saturday.
Two Tiers. The Big East is neatly divided into the haves and the have-nots. Xavier, Providence, Marquette, UConn, and Creighton are all in the top thirty of KenPom. All five could find themselves as four seeds or better come Selection Sunday. The remaining six are currently seated pretty far outside the bubble. The regular season crown could come down to who gets tripped up by a team from the bottom tier and who keeps the resume clean. On the flip side, any team from the bottom six who can knock off a team at the top may have a chance at sneaking in.
Offense Over Defense. The Big East currently has six of the top 31 offenses in efficiency, including the No. 2 and No. 7 units in the nation. Only three defenses in the conference rank that highly, with the best at No. 9. Offense rules the day in the Big East in 2023, but two of the defenses of the best teams rank outside the top 80. Could Xavier and Marquette be sunk by their issues at stopping opponents?
Close At The Top. The five teams at the top of the Big East have a combined eight conference losses. All eight have come on the road against other teams in that tier. It is still entirely possible for the season to end in a five-way 16-4 tie, with all five teams only losing on the road to one another. The season doesn't really start until one of those five loses a game they shouldn't.
Frontrunners. In my eyes, there are three guys at the top of the player of the year race right now: Adama Sanogo, Bryce Hopkins, and Souley Boum. Sanogo was disappointing last week, though, and Kalkbrenner is coming off a monster game against Providence. Those are the four guys in the conversation, although Kalkbrenner would have to get the best of Sanogo when UConn heads to Omaha to really move up.
After Jay. With Jay Wright's retirement, the question of who would be the next top coach in the Big East was asked. As of this moment, we may have five answers. What Ed Cooley, Shaka Smart, Sean Miller, Dan Hurley, and Greg McDermott have done this year is fantastic, and they seem poised to lead the new Big East into its second era.
Game of the Week
Every week, our staff will be picking our most anticipated game. If you only have chance to watch one game, this is the one you'll want to set aside some time for.
Providence at Marquette - Wednesday, January 18; 9:00 p.m. ET; CBSSN
After these two went to two overtimes the first time they met, how could this not be the game of the week? Marquette basically never loses at home, but the Friars have been road warriors under Ed Cooley. One of just two road losses for the team came at Fiserv last year in a game the Golden Eagles dominated, and I'm sure Providence would like some revenge. These are two of the best teams and the best coaches in the conference.
Quote of the Week
"To play in a game that fast and have zero turnovers, if he just did that, it's really hard to do. The fact he had eight assists and (26 points) and did all the other things, in my mind, he's playing like an All-American."
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