Big East Power Rankings and Thoughts: Week 15
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.
Providence guard Devin Carter drives toward the basket as Creighton guard Baylor Scheierman defends in the second half of an NCAA basketball game (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Subbing in for the great Matt St. Jean is no easy task, but I am taking on the challenge to bring you this week's Big East Power Rankings.
And what a week it was, with two pairs of ranked opponents trading body blows in instant classics. There's two weeks left of Big East basketball and the stakes have never been higher.
As voted on by our staff weekly.
1. Marquette Golden Eagles
Record: 21-6 (13-3)
Last week: T-1
Shaka Smart's Golden Eagles again found themselves in a potential game of the year, this week playing host to No. 16 Xavier. After a slow start Marquette managed to claw their way to a victory with the help of Stevie Mitchell's 17 points & 6 steals. Marquette is now the sole owner of 1st place in the Big East. A win at Creighton on Tuesday puts them in great position to capture their second Big East Regular Season Championship.
2. Creighton Bluejays
Record: 18-9 (12-4)
Last week: T-1
Creighton found themselves on the wrong end of the double overtime thriller at Providence this week, putting an end to their 8 game winning streak. Bluejays bounced back with a victory at St. John's to stay right in the thick of the Big East race. Creighton is still one of the hottest teams in the country, anchored by the best defense in the Big East. However the depth has become an issue, Creighton ranks bottom 10 in the country in bench minutes. If the Bluejays can defend homecourt against Marquette this week they'll be in excellent position, but it's a big "if."
3. Xavier Musketeers
Record: 20-7 (12-4)
Last week: 3
Last week Sean Miller expressed frustration regarding his team's preparation, not so this week. Xavier got off to a hot start at Marquette but was unable to hold the momentum. A few late game turnovers cost them dearly in a really well-played game by the Musketeers. It's little consolation for Miller, who took out his frustration on DePaul later in the week, winning 82-68. If Xavier gets hot at the right time they can be dangerous in March, but right now they have a tough path to the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament.
4. Providence Friars
Record: 20-7 (12-4)
Last week: 5
Some labelled Providence's Valentine's Day matchup with Creighton a "must-win." Ed Cooley used all his AMP/Dunk magic to deliver that win. In an incredible double Overtime thriller, Devin Carter and the Friars outlasted and out-toughed Creighton to remain undefeated at home this year. Providence followed that up with another gutsy win against a newly healthy Villanova team. "Tough" and "gutsy" are the words surrounding this Friar team, it's what Cooley's structure is built on, and it's a formula we know can win in March.
5. Connecticut Huskies
Record: 20-7 (9-7)
Last week: 4
It was revenge week for the Huskies, getting even with the Seton Hall Pirates who delivered a heartbreaking loss earlier in the year. Jordan Hawkins led the way, notching his 10th twenty point game of the season while continuing to improve his NBA Draft stock. Andre Jackson also seems to be heating up, scoring a career-high 15 points and his 3rd double-double of the season. But the real test comes Wednesday when the Providence Friars travel to Storrs looking for the season-sweep. Gampel should be rocking for that one in another potential Game of the Year candidate.
6. Seton Hall Pirates
Record: 16-12 (9-8)
Last week: 7
Seton Hall has gone cold at just the wrong time in the college basketball season. After being squarely on the bubble, the Pirates have lost 3 of their last 4 and project as on the outside looking in. A win against Georgetown on Valentine's Day will not be enough to move the needle for a Hall team that has shown serious signs of potential this year. Pirates play Xavier, Villanova and Providence in their final three games, most projections suggest they'll need to win at least 2 to find themselves on the bubble come Selection Sunday.
7. Villanova Wildcats
Record: 13-14 (7-9)
Last week: 6
Wildcats had all the momentum going into Saturday at the AMP, having won 3 in a row with all of their starters finally healthy and playing well. After falling behind early Villanova battled back in the 2nd Half to briefly take the lead before the Friars shut the door on them. It's a tough loss for Villanova, who look to build momentum going into the Big East Tournament and steal an NCAA Tournament bid, but right now it's a team still looking for the winning formula against the other elite teams of the Big East.
8. St. John's Red Storm
Record: 16-12 (6-11)
Last week: 8
Calling it a weird week for the Johnnies doesn't do it justice. The week started with a double overtime thriller at DePaul as Dylan Addae-Wusu played hero, hitting a buzzer-beater in regulation to extend life for the Johnnies. Red Storm then played host to Creighton in a fairly close game that saw some late-game execution issues. But the off-court issues are gaining the most attention, as shooting guard Rafael Pinzon joins Andre Curbelo on the list of currently suspended players. Nobody is quite sure what is happening in the Johnnies locker room, but the situation seems to be at near a boil. Something to watch for as we finish up the last couple weeks of Big East basketball.
9. DePaul Blue Demons
Record: 9-18 (3-13)
Last week: 10
DePaul picks up two more losses this week, bringing their losing streak to 8 games. The season looked promising at one point but now its just a matter of time. At least DePaul fans get to watch Da'Sean Nelson, who continues to accumulate one of the best highlight reels in the Big East.
10. Butler Bulldogs
Record: 13-15 (5-12)
Last week: 9
What happened to the Butler team that defeated Xavier just a week ago? Bulldogs drop two this week including the ever-embarrassing loss to Georgetown at home. Rough week for Butler, rough season for Butler. After last week they looked like they could cause damage in the Big East Tournament; after this week they'll be happy just to see the season end.
11. Georgetown Hoyas
Record: 7-21 (2-15)
Last week: 11
Georgetown picks up the win at Hinkle Fieldhouse in one of the stranger Big East basketball games. Patrick Ewing now has 2 conference wins in the last two seasons. Wow.
Player of the Week: Bryce Hopkins
19.5 points per game, 10.5 rebounds per game in two wins
Hopkins scored 20 for Providence in their 2OT win over Creighton then followed it up with a double-double in their win over Villanova. Hopkins continues to add to his Big East Player of the Year resume.
NCAA Seeding. The Bracket Preview aired on Saturday with some bad news for Big East fans. Only Marquette and Providence found themselves in the Top-16 seeds, each currently ranked as a no. 4. Notably UConn and Creighton are not currently placed as top 4 seeds. Not a good sign for the Big East come Selection Sunday.
Andre Curbelo's Future. St John's beat writer Zach Braziller made waves on Saturday when he tweeted that he had spoken with Curbelo about his suspension. Braziller reports Curbelo answered a question about his status on the team with, "I'm still here." When asked about the reason for suspension Curbelo reportedly replied, "You tell me." Just another piece of the ongoing drama coming out of Queens.
The Ryan Kalkbrenner Effect. Marquette beat Creighton at home back in December but the Bluejays were missing one key piece. It's rematch time and Ryan Kalkbrenner is healthy and playing some of his best basketball. In their first matchup Ighodaro led Marquette with 16 points, let's see how much of a difference Kalkbrenner makes.
NBA Draft. The Athletic revealed their current mock NBA draft this week, featuring 7 Big East players. Cam Whitmore currently mocks as the No. 6 pick with Jordan Hawkins behind him at No. 18. Colby Jones rounds out the First Round at No. 23 with Kaluma, Trey Alexander, Scheierman and Hopkins taken in the 2nd Round. In last year's Draft, Tyrese Martin was the only Big East player called, this year is shaping up to be a more fun night for Big East fans.
Marquette's Path. With two weeks left in the season it might be a touch early to talk about clinching the Big East Regular Season Championship. But if (big if) Marquette wins at Creighton on Tuesday, here is the rest of their path: vs DePaul, @ Butler, vs St John's. Win out and the Golden Eagles will be your Big East Champions.
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 UConn - Wednesday, February 22; 6:30 p.m. ET; FS1
Is it a rivalry? Is it not? Whatever your opinion, Gampel is sure to be rocking Wednesday night as UConn looks to get even with the Providence Friars. Providence has won 6 of their last 8; UConn has won 4 of their last 5. This one has all the makings of an instant classic.
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