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

The Big East regular season began when Butler played host to Ed Cooley's Georgetown Hoya's at home on December 19th. Since then, twenty one games have been played resulting in a chaotic four-way tie atop the standings very early on in the year. Connecticut, Villanova, St. John's and Seton Hall lead the way at 3-1, but their trajectories and rankings could not be further apart. In this article we will recap how those teams got there and what the other seven teams can do to supplant those four with plenty of time to go in the year.

It is important to remember 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 off of the body of work thus far in the season.


1.) UConn Huskies

Record: 13-2 (3-1)

Last Week: -

The Huskies only conference loss so far this season came on the road against a red-hot Seton Hall team, in a game where they lost their 7-foot-2 center Donovan Clingan to a foot injury. Clingan, who was expected to miss three to four weeks with this ailment, has been replaced in the starting lineup by 6-foot-10 forward Samson Johnson.

In the three games Clingan has been out, Johnson has averaged 10.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game in just 24.3 minutes of action per game. Johnson has only committed two turnovers and has played effective defense in Clingan's absence as well.

In their most recent game, the Huskies found themselves trailing Butler 42-35 at halftime in Hinkle Fieldhouse, but were able to fire on all cylinders offensively putting up 53 second half points en route to an impressive 88-81 victory on the road. Alex Karaban led the way with 20 points, but Big East Freshman of the Week Stephon Castle was the game's MVP, finishing with 14 points, nine rebounds four assists and two steals.

2.) Marquette Golden Eagles

Record: 11-4 (2-2)

Last Week: -

Despite dropping two of their first four games in conference play, the Golden Eagles find themselves perched at the number two spot in this weeks power rankings. This is not what Shaka Smart had in mind when he envisioned opening conference play, but the two losses, Providence and Seton Hall, are both very easy to debunk.

Their first loss against Providence was at the Amica Mutual Pavilion, a place where Marquette has not won since before the pandemic (February 23, 2019). They were also without Stevie Mitchell, who has been great for them over the last two and a half seasons. Tough loss, but it happens.

As for their other loss to Seton Hall, they just ran into an absolute buzzsaw on the road. Plain and simple. When the schedule came out, this probably would have been a game that most Marquette fans would feel pretty good about, especially if a time traveler told them that they would win the turnover battle by TWELVE. As we know, weird weird things happen in Newark, New Jersey and we have to chalk this one up to that.

3.) Seton Hall Pirates

Record: 10-5 (3-1)

Last Week: -

HELLO PIRATES! Where did this Seton Hall team come from?!

After a tough non-conference schedule, the Pirates were battle tested playing teams like Rutgers, Baylor, USC and Iowa but were lacking that signature win on their resume. They opened up conference play with a stunning home victory against the reigning National Champion UConn Huskies.

Signature win secured.

The narratives surrounding that win were that while Seton Hall played well, it was without Donovan Clingan so maybe it was a fluke. Those narratives only got louder once the Pirates went on the road and got smacked by twenty to a Xavier team that just got smacked themselves by St. John's.

And then they were silenced.

Big East Player of the Week Kadary Richmond and the Pirates went into the Amica Mutual Pavilion and handed Providence their first loss at home since the last time they were there in March. Then, they followed up that performance by coming home and taking down the number seven team in the country in Marquette.

The rule is simple: if you have a little number in front of your teams name and you see Seton Hall on the schedule, be very very afraid.

4.) St. John's Red Storm

Record: 11-4 (3-1)

Last Week: -

If it had not been for the aforementioned Seton Hall Pirates having the best week in the country, St. John's would be right up there for having a heckuva week themselves.

St. John's only competitive game thus far in conference play has been their only loss to the reigning National Champion UConn Huskies. Aside from that, the Johnnie's have recorded 15, 16 and 10 point victories over Xavier, Butler and Villanova respectively. While the offense is firing on all cylinders, it has been the defensive efficiency continuing to increase over the last five games which has been the catalyst to this streak.

Joel Soriano is continuing to do Joel Soriano things, but contributions from Daniss Jenkins and role players like Brady Dunlap have been increased as of late. Both of those two netted season highs over the past week while RJ Luis has impressed as well.

St. John's is top-53 in offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom and rank as the number seventeen overall team on Bart Torvik (one spot ahead of the Kansas Jayhawks). The Johnnies look for real.

5.) Creighton Bluejays

Record: 11-4 (2-2)

Last Week: -

Creighton finds themselves at number five in our rankings this week, which projects to be the absolute floor for this team this season.

Coming into conference play, the Bluejays picked up an impressive win over a very good Alabama team at home, but it could not propel them to a hot start in the conference's regular season. Creighton dropped each of their first two games to start conference play 0-2 for only the second time since they joined the league.

Creighton's demise may have been overestimated however as they bounced back in typical Greg McDermott fashion, picking up wins over Georgetown and Providence in back to back games.

The Bluejays are relying heavily on Baylor Scheierman and Trey Alexander to carry a lot of the load for this team in the early going, which if you had to rely on two guys, those two are probably a great bet. Utah State transfer Steven Ashworth is shooting a career low from beyond the arc in the early going, but if they can get him going this could be a Creighton team that very easily climbs back into the top three in these rankings.

6.) Providence Friars

Record: 11-4 (2-2)

Last Week: -

It was all good just a week ago for Kim English's Friars as they picked up two early wins in conference play over Marquette and a very solid Butler team. Then tragedy struck. Bryce Hopkins left the game against Seton Hall after awkwardly hyperextending his left knee. It was later revealed that Hopkins would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.

Hopkins is a key piece to the Friars and while replacing him will be no easy task, this write up is not Providence's obituary.

Kim English has shown flashes of what everybody in Friartown was looking for in a replacement for Ed Cooley. Passion, fire, drive, and excitement all paired with the x's and o's and getting the most out of guys like Josh Oduro and Devin Carter have been a breath of fresh air for the fanbase and beyond. This team has talent and intangibles to make a run at the conference title and you bet your bottom dollar that Kim English will do everything he can to make that run.

7.) Villanova Wildcats

Record: 10-5 (3-1)

Last Week: -

Much like Providence, Villanova started off Big East play hot, notching wins over DePaul, Xavier and Creighton (on the road). The Wildcats came home to host Rick Pitino and the Johnnies and while Villanova was favored by four and a half points, the game was never competitive. St. John's jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back, handing Villanova their first conference loss of the season. Rick Pitino executed his game plan to perfection and the Wildcats had no answer for any of the sets that they were seeing.

Consistency is going to be the Achilles heel for this team all year long. For some teams, they come out and look a little different from game-to-game. This team can look drastically different from half-to-half, as evidenced by their game against Creighton.

On the bright side, the Johnnies were the Wildcats first loss in over a month. Villanova has DePaul at home next week to hopefully notch another conference win before heading out to Milwaukee and a date with the Golden Eagles. We should expect Justin Moore back soon as well.

8.) Butler Bulldogs

Record: 10-5 (1-3)

Last Week: -

It pains me to see Butler this far down on the power rankings, but when you start conference play 1-3, it leaves our staff with little wiggle room.

Butler finished non-conference play only dropping two games to two top twenty KenPom teams as of this writing, Florida Atlantic and Michigan State. They opened conference play with a win over Georgetown before dropping three in a row to Providence, St. John's and UConn.

None of those three losses are baaaad losses, but with the amount of talent on this team it would have been nice to see the Bulldogs steal a win there. The sledding does not get any easier either, with their next two opponents being Marquette and white-hot Seton Hall.

The schedule has done Thad Matta's squad no favors thus far and starting 1-5 is a realistic possibility for the Bulldogs, but tightening up the defense would go a long way to ensure that does not happen. This team has the talent to sniff the top five in this league, but changes will need to be made, and quick.

9.) Xavier Musketeers

Record: 7-7 (1-2)

Last Week: -

Sitting at .500 is not where Sean Miller and the Xavier Musketeers envisioned they would start their year, but here they are.

As mentioned previously, Xavier opened up conference play on a tough note, losing by fifteen on the road at St. John's before coming home and picking up one of the more shocking wins in the conference thus far (in hindsight) over the Seton Hall Pirates by twenty.

The Musketeers had two chances to win the game against Villanova in the final fifteen seconds at the Finneran Pavillion, and maybe if they eeked out that win, the outlook in Cincinnati would be a little brighter. Sitting at 1-2 with UConn and Providence (on the road) on the schedule next week, it looks pretty gloomy.

10.) Georgetown Hoyas

Record: 8-7 (1-3)

Last Week: -

Year one in the Ed Cooley era is not getting off the the start many had hoped that it would. But anything worth having in life requires patience, as so do the Hoyas.

Georgetown sits at 8-7, but their best win came in the non-conference against a bad Notre Dame team (#163 in KenPom), although they should have beat TCU had it not been for officiating incompetence.

Jayden Epps is going to be the heart, soul and oft the entire offense for this Georgetown team who seem to struggle with any average backcourt tandem. Rowan Brumbaugh has been impressive in the early going and should give the Hoya faithful something to look forward to in years to come.

The Hoyas have work to do if they have any aspirations of finishing conference play with three or more wins.

11.) DePaul Blue Demons

Record: 3-11 (0-3)

Last Week: Probably would have been 11

The only team below .500 in the conference finds themselves in dead last place in this weeks power rankings. The Blue Demons have not beat a team inside the top-200 of KenPom's rankings and find themselves on the outside looking in as well.

Tony Stubblefield, a great recruiter, is simply not the guy for the job out in Chicago. The administration and coaching staff have failed these players who give their max effort game in and game out.

All we can hope for now is that a change at the helm is coming after this season, because barring an unprecedented change this year, DePaul will not finish higher than tenth or eleventh in these rankings for the rest of the season.

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