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Big East Power Rankings and Thoughts: Week 14

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.

Butler's Jayden Taylor emerges above a stormed court at Hinkle Fieldhouse (Photo from ESPN).

What a week. Just when we thought we had everything figured out, not one, but two, ranked Big East teams fell on the road. That sets the stage perfectly for an intense final sprint.


By this point in three weeks, the Big East regular season will be over. In four weeks, we'll have a bracket. A lot will happen in that time.


Power Rankings


As voted on by our staff weekly.

T-1. Marquette Golden Eagles

Record: 20-6 (12-3)

Last week: 1


The Golden Eagles are the first team to 20 wins in the Big East. Shaka Smart deserves a round of applause for that one. Regardless of what the next month has in store, Smart has done an amazing job this season and should be a top candidate for Naismith Coach of the Year. Marquette's loss at UConn this week was their biggest margin of defeat this season, but that was bound to happen. Going on the road in the Big East is always difficult, and even a team as good as this one was bound to have an off night. I thought they recovered well against Georgetown. With the other developments in the conference, Marquette is in good shape to take the crown.


T-1. Creighton Bluejays

Record: 17-8 (11-3)

Last week: 3


The winning streak is up to eight for the Jays, good for fifth best in the nation. Creighton has held opponents under 70 points in seven of those eight games, and the one outlier was against St. John's in a high-tempo game in garbage time. The Bluejays have the best defense in the Big East, a unit that got a little help from the feet of Jordan Hawkins to seal a win over UConn. With the losses by Xavier and Providence, Creighton is suddenly in great position to claim a top seed at the Garden. The Bluejays travel to the AMP on Tuesday night to play in Providence's pink-out in what should be a raucous environment. Creighton is playing like a top-ten team, and they'll need to bring everything they have to win that one.


3. Xavier Musketeers

Record: 19-6 (11-3)

Last week: 2


What was that? Xavier controlled its fate heading into this week. Now, the team's destiny is murky. This is now two questionable road losses in Big East play this season. This reinforces what we've known for a while; when Xavier's offense isn't firing on all cylinders, the defense isn't good enough to pull out wins. That's a dangerous combination for when March comes around. The Musketeers now have to travel to Milwaukee on Wednesday, setting up the team for consecutive losses for the first time since November. Xavier will need to pull off an upset down the stretch to get back to the top of the conference.


4. Connecticut Huskies

Record: 19-7 (8-7)

Last week: 5


UConn finally cracked the top four again. The Huskies looked like one of the best teams in the country again against Marquette, running the Golden Eagles out of the building right off the bat. They were a Jordan Hawkins toe away from possibly going to overtime in Omaha on Saturday. The Huskies clearly figured something out, probably somewhere in that second half against Xavier when their comeback come up just short. Tristen Newton, the UConn triple-double king, has a lot to do with that. They get most of the week off before a rematch with Seton Hall at home. The loser of that one likely gets the No. 6 seed in the Big East Tournament.


5. Providence Friars

Record: 18-7 (10-4)

Last week: 4


Providence bounced back from a loss at Xavier well by knocking off Georgetown on Wednesday. The positivity was short-lived, though, as the Friars turned around and no showed for most of Saturday afternoon at MSG. As Ed Cooley mentioned after the game, the Friars never seemed to emotionally match what St. John's brought, going down by 16 and momentarily tying it in the second half before letting it slip away. They took a season-high 72 shots and made just 24 of them. Like with Xavier, this loss could be costly in the Big East title race and speaks to Providence's issues when the offense can't get shots to fall. This was the Providence team we haven't seen since November. Tuesday night becomes a must-win now.


6. Villanova Wildcats

Record: 12-13 (6-8)

Last week: 7


Two wins in a row for the Wildcats! Villanova put DePaul away late and then stifled Seton Hall's offense to keep the streak against the Pirates going. Kyle Neptune finally has all of his top contributors healthy at the same time for the first time all season. The schedule this week offers an opportunity to get back to .500 against Butler before taking on Providence on the road. The first meeting between those was close, so keep an eye on the rematch.


7. Seton Hall Pirates

Record: 15-11 (8-7)

Last week: 6


Seton Hall needed to win two games last week to stake their claim to an at-large bid. One win would have kept them in the conversation. Now, the Pirates probably need to win five in a row to end the regular season or four in a row at the Garden to make the tournament. With how inconsistent this offense is, I'm not optimistic. That unit is now ranked 153rd in efficiency, and that absolutely matches how this team looks when you throw them on the TV.


8. St. John's Red Storm

Record: 15-11 (5-10)

Last week: 8


After losing a weird one at Hinkle earlier in the week, the Red Storm put together their best performance since beating UConn last month. The defense was rock solid against the Friars, and David Jones put together a fantastic performance in his first game back since the passing of his father. St. John's has the talent to play with and beat anyone in the Big East when it all comes together. Unfortunately, it only seems to come together a few times every season.


9. Butler Bulldogs

Record: 13-13 (5-10)

Last week: 10


The Bulldogs picked up two wins this week, and both were strange ones. It took a deflected in-bounds pass to hang out against St. John's and a goaltending call to defeat Xavier. But they don't ask how, they just ask how many, and Butler is up to five Big East wins. They only need one more to match last year's conference record.


10. DePaul Blue Demons

Record: 9-16 (3-11)

Last week: 9


Wednesday night at Villanova went exactly how games against Villanova have gone for the last decade for DePaul. At least the team has some cool throwbacks for Tuesday night against St. John's. The crowd should get up for that one with David Jones returning to DePaul for the first time since transferring out.


11. Georgetown Hoyas

Record: 6-20 (1-14)

Last week: 11


We're just counting down the days, now, aren't we?


 

Players of the Week: Jayden Taylor, G, Butler

19.5 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game in two wins


Taylor was the leading scorer in Butler's two wins this week, scoring 19 against St. John's and 20 against Xavier. The sophomore had a big week for the Bulldogs!


 

Five Thoughts

  1. And Then There Were Two? This time last week, it was a four-way race in the Big East. Now, we're on the verge of it being a two-horse competition. But can Creighton and Marquette avoid the kinds of losses Xavier and Providence had last week? Creighton travels to Queens this week to play at St. John's, and Marquette has a trip to Hinkle in the final week of the season. The results of those games could determine the champion or re-open the race completely.

  2. Jonesing For Trouble. David Jones shocked many by transferring from DePaul to St. John's last summer. He makes his first trip back to the Windy City this week in what should be an emotional affair. That one should be an entertaining game, but it's also important for seeding. The loser is likely to end up with the No. 10 seed, while the winner should slot into the 8/9 game that will open the Big East Tournament.

  3. Blow The Whistle. In Big East play, no one gets to the free throw line more than Providence. No one sends opponents to the line less than Creighton. The Friars attempted far fewer than their season average in free throws when they traveled to Omaha last month. Does home court advantage play out in their favor Tuesday night in the form of a more favorable whistle?

  4. Seeding. The Bracket Preview show is expected to air next weekend. The selection committee announces the top four seedlines with the dance approaching, and the Big East should have some names announced. This should give us a good idea of how the people who matter view the teams at this point in the season. How they weigh UConn's conference vs. non-conference performance is probably the most interesting question to answer.

  5. Where They Stand. Here's how the bracket matrix sees the Big East at the moment. Xavier is the last team on the 3-line, with UConn and Marquette just behind on the 4-line. Creighton comes in on the 6-line, and Providence is on the 7-line. Seton Hall was in just one of the 86 brackets monitored by the site, and that was as the last team in.

 


Games 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.


Creighton at Providence - Tuesday, February 14; 7:00 p.m. ET; FS1


Creighton is rolling. Providence doesn't lose at home. Greg McDermott and Ed Cooley are two of the best coaches in the Big East. The AMP will be rocking on Valentine's Day for the pink-out. The stakes are high for this one, with the Friars likely eliminated from Big East title contention with a loss. Expect to see an energized Providence team.


Xavier at Marquette - Wednesday, February 15; 7:00 p.m. ET; CBSSN


Marquette has a chance to basically knock Xavier out of the Big East title race at home on Wednesday. These are two of the top offenses in college basketball. First to 90 wins?

 

Quote of the Week

“There's not another conference in America that can compare to what the Big East Tournament does.”
 


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