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Road to the Garden's Big East Power Rankings: Week Three

Friendly reminder that these rankings, as voted on by the Road to the Garden staff, are not predictions in which we think these teams will finish at the end of the year, rather they are rankings based on the body of work thus far in the season.

1.) UConn Huskies

Record: 15-2 (5-1)

Last Week: 1

The Huskies retain first place this week after continuing to pile up wins. UConn didn’t do anything all that special, but sometimes simply not losing is more than enough. This past week, it notched a tight road win over Xavier, and took care of business against Georgetown.

Cam Spencer hit eight triples and had 39 points between the two victories this week. The Big Ten transfer is hitting his stride at the right time as conference play heats up. Speaking of heating up, UConn now faces a true Big East gauntlet with relief not coming until mid-February when they play Georgetown again.

It’ll be Creighton and Villanova on deck for the Huskies this week. Pretty simple — win both, and they’ll be #1 for the third straight week. Their only loss in Big East play was the opener against Seton Hall. 

Oh, and watch out for Donovan Clingan potentially getting back out on the court this week.

2.) Seton Hall Pirates

Record: 12-5 (5-1)

Last Week: 3

The Hall moves up one slot in the rankings this week. They simply continue to outperform expectations, picking up two wins this week over Butler and Georgetown. Now 5-1 in conference play, it’s hard to dismiss Seton Hall atop the conference — they just find ways to win games.

Kadary Richmond has been playing Player of the Year worthy basketball as of late. In Seton Hall’s last four games, Richmond is averaging 20.2 pts, 7.8 rbs, and 6.0 ast. Truly astounding numbers, which don’t even take into account his defensive play. Per, Richmond is the 22nd best player in the country, and third best in the Big East. 

Shaheen Holloway is building a culture of toughness, and perhaps more importantly, winning. You can tell that these players assume they’re going to win each time out, and that goes a long way. The #2 slot in the power rankings seems like a good fit.

Remember when Shaheen Holloway said he had the best backcourt in the league with Dawes, Richmond, and Addae-Wusu? Not so crazy anymore, is it?

3.) Creighton Bluejays

Record: 13-4 (4-2)

Last Week: 5

Creighton has now won four straight Big East games, after dropping their first two. They’re up two spots in the power rankings after they showed a lot of grit and resilience with their win over St. John’s this week. Oh, they also beat DePaul by 40, I suppose.

Baylor Scheierman has to be the frontrunner for Big East Player of the Year at this point. He leads the conference in points (18.0 ppg), and is fourth in rebounds (8.3 rpg). He also has made more three point shots than anyone in the conference. Scheierman has become the de-facto leader of a Creighton team that was lacking an emotional spark. 

Bench productivity remains an issue for the Jays. In their last two competitive Big East games (SJU and PC), Creighton’s bench has been outscored 33 to 4. 

It doesn’t get easier for Creighton, who heads to Storrs on Wednesday to take on UConn. Win that, and you have an outside case for first in next week’s rankings.

4.) St. John's Red Storm

Record: 12-5 (4-2)

Last Week: 4

The 12-5 Johnnies retain the #4 spot in the rankings, despite a 1-1 week. SJU beat Providence on Wednesday by a bucket, and then lost to Creighton over the weekend by one point. St. John’s has proven enough at this point to be considered a more-than-likely NCAA Tournament team. However, after losing their opportunities against Creighton and UConn so far, they still don’t have a marquee win.

This week, SJU will take on the red-hot Pirates of Seton Hall, and then play host to Marquette. It’s a big time week for a St. John’s team that seems to be finding their rhythm. Winning both would not only mean a shiny number next to your name thanks to the Associated Press, but they’d also likely jump up to #2 in the power rankings. 

Joel Soriano’s 135.3 ORTG is good for 20th in the country. He’s been a menace, leading the conference in boards as well. However, it’s the depth that makes this team special. When Jordan Dingle and Brady Dunlap are firing from all cylinders from the bench, watch out.

T-5.) Marquette Golden Eagles

Record: 11-5 (2-3)

Last Week: 2

Well, Marquette slots in at #5 after a double-loss week. The Golden Eagles took losses to both Butler and Seton Hall. Marquette is now just 2-3 in conference play, with two tough ones coming up this week.

Tyler Kolek simply hasn’t been the same player as last year. That, paired with the injuries to Chase Ross, Sean Jones, and Stevie Mitchell has meant tough sledding for the Golden Eagles. A season ago, in Big East play Tyler Kolek averaged 15.5 ppg, while shooting 39% from deep and 55% from the floor.

This year in Big East play, Kolek is just at 11.2 pts, and has shot 21% from three and 41% from the floor. Pretty steep drop off. But there’s a long way to go, and Tyler Kolek is an exceptionally special player. Betting on him to not figure it out is like doubling down on a 15 in blackjack. The odds say you’re not very smart.

The Golden Eagles will host Villanova on Monday and head to New York to face SJU over the weekend.

T-5.) Villanova Wildcats

Record: 11-5 (4-1)

Last Week: 7

Our own Tommy Godin loves to say that this Villanova team doesn’t look different from game to game, they look different half to half, and he’s absolutely right. This Wildcats team is incredibly talented, and it shows at times.

Other times they make some baffling mistakes and have yet to find a consistent late-game recipe, as evidenced by close losses to Penn, Drexel and Kansas State, and almost surrendering a huge comeback to Xavier.

Still, this team is incredibly talented, and capable of excellent performances, as evidenced by past wins against two current Top Ten teams in Memphis and UNC, along with a road win at Creighton. This Wildcats team has a really high ceiling, but can play down to their competition, which is why they fall directly in the center of our Power Rankings.

7.) Butler Bulldogs

Record: 11-6 (2-4)

Last Week: 8

The Butler Bulldogs are an excellent offensive team. This team looks night and day from the team they had a season ago, headlined by the excellent scoring punch of Pierre Brooks and DJ Davis.

The Bulldogs were really close to multiple huge wins this season, but finally got the win they needed in Milwaukee over Marquette. Assisted by some poor shooting from the Golden Eagles, the Bulldogs battled tooth and nail late, behind an excellent performance from starting center Jalen Thomas, who logged his second double-double of the season.

However, their defensive struggles have reared their ugly head in Big East play. The Bulldogs have the third worst adjusted defensive efficiency in the Big East according to KenPom. If the Bulldogs want to play meaningful ball in March, they will have to sure up defensively.

Butler also needs more from star forward Jahmyl Telfort, who is averaging only 10.8PPG on 32.8% from the field in conference play.

8.) Xavier Musketeers

Record: 8-8 (2-3)

Last Week: 9

The Xavier Musketeers have had a season of some really high highs (yet another Crosstown Shootout W), and some pretty low lows (losing to Oakland and Delaware in Cintas).

Still, the Musketeers are a few fortunate bounces away from a 4-1 start to Big East play, with huge wins at Villanova and over the #1 ranked UConn Huskies (ok admittedly, they would’ve needed more than a couple of bounces against UConn, but you get what I’m going for).

That said, a win in the AMP is nothing to scoff at, especially when it’s behind a star performance from a surging freshman, like Trey Green. Green had shown some flashes, but fully broke out onto the scene against Providence, with 23 points on 9/13 shooting and 5/8 from three, in an upset at the AMP.

The Musketeers have a long way to go if they want to play meaningful ball in March, but back-to-back wins over Butler and Georgetown in Cintas would be a good start.

9.) Providence Friars

Record: 11-6 (2-4)

Last Week: 6

The Providence Friars have had a chaotic season. The Friars started 2-0 in Big East play, with competitive wins over Marquette and Butler, but have since lost their last four games, and star wing Bryce Hopkins in the process.

The Friars are led by another star guard in Devin Carter who has gone ballistic in Big East play, averaging 21.7PPG and 9.5RPG through six contests.

That said, this team has real offensive problems. The Friars are a defensive juggernaut (second-best defense in the conference), but have the second-worst offense in the Big East according to KenPom. The Friars shoot 54.5% from inside the arc, which ranks 42nd in the country, but are only 32.4% from deep, which ranks 220th nationally. Despite these splits, the Friars are 60th in the country in three-point rate, shooting 42.7% of their shots from beyond the arc.

Providence has the defense to hold serve even without Hopkins, but will need to figure it out offensively if they are to surge in these rankings before the season ends.

With the recent commitment of Five-Star Center Oswin Erhunmwunse (Class of 2025), the future looks bright in Friar Town, but a strong end to the season would go a long way to sustaining that.

10.) Georgetown Hoyas

Record: 8-9 (1-5)

Last Week: 10

The results probably haven’t been ideal in Cooley’s first season at the helm of Georgetown. This team has shown some progress as the season has gone on but still has a ways to go.

Chief among these struggles are defensively, where the Hoyas rank dead last in the Big East. Hoya fans were desperate to seek improvement on this end after some dreadful defenses under Coach Patrick Ewing, but have yet to see it.

Still, they have seen flashes from some of their younger players, including the Big East’s leading scorer, sophomore Jayden Epps. Pair him with some surging freshmen in Rowan Brumbaugh and Drew Fielder, and some impact veterans with another year of eligibility in Supreme Cook and Dontrez Styles, and the future looks bright on the Hilltop.

Add to that a highly-touted recruiting class, and some rumored NIL money coming in, and the next few years on the Hilltop could be bright. But for now, Hoya fans should seek improvement from this group, though not expect much in the form of results.

11.) DePaul Blue Demons

Record: 3-13 (0-5)

Last Week: 11

The DFL Spot will likely be DePaul’s for the rest of the year. The Blue Demons seem more focused on next season and just want to get to the finish line. The Blue Demons are 3-13 on the season, and will only serve as a huge blemish on the resume of anyone they upset.


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