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Big East Power Rankings and Thoughts: Week 6

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.


Bryce Hopkins hangs on the rim after a first-half dunk. (Photo by Providence Athletics)

It feels nice to finally have a weekend of Big East conference play under our belts. Let's see where the teams stand!


Power Rankings


As voted on by our staff weekly.


1. Connecticut Huskies

Record: 12-0 (1-0)

Last week: 1


UConn is going to be holding this spot until they lose, which doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon. It felt like Butler gave the Huskies a good fight on Saturday, and yet it didn't even matter. UConn cruised to a 22-point victory. Their only game this week is at home against Georgetown on Wednesday. KenPom has a spread of 26 points on that one.


2. Marquette Golden Eagles

Record: 9-3 (1-0)

Last week: 5


The Golden Eagles are flying high! Marquette took down Notre Dame on the road and then Creighton at home since our last issue, both of which are quality wins. This team has no bad losses and the best win of any Big East team. Shaka Smart's player development is simply amazing. A trip to the building formerly known as the Dunk on Tuesday should be an electric matchup.


3. Xavier Musketeers

Record: 9-3 (1-0)

Last week: 3


Souley Boum is for real. Twelve games into the season, he's shooting above fifty percent from deep. He had 28 points as the Musketeers took down Georgetown on the road on Friday. All five starters were in double-figures. This offense is one of the best in college basketball. The Musketeers face Seton Hall on Tuesday, and I'm curious to see how their offense looks against Shaheen Holloway's defense.


4. St. John's Red Storm

Record: 11-1 (1-0)

Last week: 4


We still don't know much about this St. John's team, but it's good to see them consistently beat up on lesser opponents. A semi-away game against a bad-but-talented Florida State team right after finals had trap game written all over it. The Red Storm did not fall for it. Joel Soriano had 23 points and 12 boards, good for another double-double, and Dylan Addae-Wusu had his best game of the season, hitting four triples. Their next game at Villanova is one of the more intriguing games of the Big East slate so far.


5. Providence Friars

Record: 9-3 (1-0)

Last week: 7


The Friars withstood a 28-point performance from Kadary Richmond thanks to Bryce Hopkins having a career day. Hopkins had 24 points and ten rebounds and took over in the second half to lead Providence to victory. He is breaking out right now, and having a day like that against a physical and defensive team like Seton Hall says a lot about where he is in his development. Ed Croswell is also coming into his own as a starter with 21 points and a trio of important blocks in the second half. Ed Cooley has this team coming together at the right time.


6. Creighton Bluejays

Record: 6-6 (0-1)

Last week: 2


Omaha, we have a problem. This is six losses in a row now for the Bluejays, who don't look like the top-ten group we saw around Thanksgiving. Obviously, taking away Ryan Kalkbrenner is a big part of that. When he comes back, this team should be much better. What's concerning, though, is the lack of depth in the backcourt. That can only be fixed by players stepping up, which has yet to happen. Creighton has a three-game home stand before traveling to Storrs, so this is the time to get right.


T-7. Villanova Wildcats

Record: 6-5

Last week: 6


Villanova is back over .500 and now on a four-game winning streak since Cam Whitmore got healthy. The defense was still shaky at points at St. Joe's, but it did enough in the second half to get the win. Kyle Neptune didn't get a great performance from Whitmore, but Brandon Slater had probably his best game of the season. Things are trending in the right direction after a shaky start.


T-7. Butler Bulldogs

Record: 8-4 (0-1)

Last week: 8


The Bulldogs ran into the buzzsaw that is UConn this season. There's no shame in losing that. Thad Matta got Ali Ali and Jalen Thomas back, which is huge for the longterm hopes of this team. Once those guys get up to speed, this team could be something good. The schedule ahead gets a bit difficult, though.


9. Seton Hall Pirates

Record: 7-5 (0-1)

Last week: 9


The good: Kadary Richmond had his best game this season and finally looked like the all-conference talent he is. The bad: nobody else showed up against Providence. This roster is just not consistent enough to put together wins against good teams right now. The talent is there on paper, and obviously Alexis Yetna is still out. This season has not gone as many expected it could for Shaheen Holloway.


10. DePaul Blue Demons

Record: 6-6 (0-1)

Last week: 10


DePaul is lucky Georgetown is having a historically bad season. I don't care how injured you are, losing by 38 points to Northwestern is inexcusable. Losing at Duquesne by 11 is just as bad. Why are you even scheduling that game? And now, DePaul gets the national spotlight of a Christmas Day game at Creighton. Buckle up.


11. Georgetown Hoyas

Record: 5-7 (0-1)

Last week: 11


Georgetown actually looked good and engaged for most of it's game against Xavier on Friday. The coaching decisions are still mind-numbing, though. Why would you go to a zone defense against one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country? A trip to Storrs this week will be a bloodbath with this defense.


 

Player of the Week: Souley Boum, G, Xavier

28 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 steals at Georgetown


Boum was dominant Friday night. He is currently one of the best shooters in all of basketball, which was apparent when he hit six of his nine looks from beyond the arc at Georgetown. In a conference dominated by big men, Boum is making a push into the player of the year conversation as a guard.


 

Five Thoughts

  1. Peaking At The Right Time? If you consult BartTorvik.com, you'll find that Providence's best four game scores have come in the past four games. Ed Cooley has a new group of players this year, and it seems like the group has started to click since the team's loss at TCU. The offense is flowing with Bryce Hopkins as the primary option, and the defense is playing better on the perimeter. Time will tell if this is a hot streak or a sign of things to come.

  2. Year Two. A pair of second-year Big East coaches could not be trending in more opposite directions. Shaka Smart's Marquette team is playing complete, team basketball and beating good teams. Tony Stubblefield's DePaul has struggled mightily since a 3-0 start. What Smart has done there is remarkable and one of the top stories in the Big East so far. Stubblefield has faced an uphill climb, losing players to transfer and injury that were supposed to be core pieces this season. Winning in the Big East is a very hard thing to do.

  3. Defense. If this Xavier team has a fatal flaw, it would be interior defense. The Musketeers struggled there last year, and they gave up 36 points in the paint to Georgetown on Friday. The Hoyas have talent on offense, but Xavier should not be allowing 89 points to them. Let's see how the defense looks against a red-hot Kadary Richmond this week.

  4. Bryce Breakout. Providence's Bryce Hopkins is now ninth in the Big East in scoring after his 24-point game yesterday. Hopkins was a highly-touted recruit out of high school, and he seems to be delivering on that promise now. His physicality gets him to the line quite a bit, and he's found his shot from the outside. He has all-conference upside this year.

  5. Scary Kadary. Kadary Richmond's performance against Providence on Saturday should not go overlooked. He was nearly unguardable at points, taking it right to multiple Providence defenders. If Seton Hall can get that version of him for the rest of the season, this team can put together a very solid season.

 


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.


St. John's at Villanova - Wednesday, December 21; 6:30 p.m. ET; FS1


Villanova comes into this one 4-0 in games that matter (if you ask Nova fans), while the Johnnies have racked up wins against lesser opponents. This game should set a good benchmark of where each of these teams is right now. Is St. John's as good as the record says? Is Villanova back to being a Big East contender with Cam Whitmore? Find out this Wednesday.

 

Quote of the Week

"I thought we grew up today. I thought we showed a lot of toughness."

- Providence head coach Ed Cooley after the team's 71-67 win at Seton Hall on Saturday

 


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