Big East Basketball Power Rankings: Trying to Separate 3-10

Welcome to the sixth edition of RoundTable Time’s 2018-19 Big East Power Rankings. Look out for new rankings every week, typically on Sundays or Mondays.

Previous Power Rankings:

6 Week Roundup: 12/16/2018
Closing out the Non-Conference: 12/24/2018
Week 1 of the Big East: 1/6/2019
Another Week, Another New Number One: 1/7/2019
A Two-Horse Race: 1/21/2019

1. Villanova

16-4 (7-0)
Previous: 1 (EVEN)

Since Last Week, 2-0: W, @ Butler | W vs. Seton Hall

Week Recap: Nova took an early lead vs. Butler and maintained it throughout. Eric Paschall continued his hot shooting, he shot 8-16 from the field and 5-10 from 3 on his way to 23 points. Paschall is scoring 20.0 PPG on 50.0/41.3/93.1 shooting in seven Big East games after a slow start to the season that saw him forcing his offense more often than not. The win also ends a two game losing streak for Villanova at Hinkle Fieldhouse. On Sunday, the Cats routed a struggling Seton Hall team behind 25 points and a career high 7 3’s from Phil Booth. Villanova took 42 of 58 field goal attempts from 3, or a whopping 72.4%. They are now taking a ridiculous 52.9% of their overall shots from 3-point range, good for fourth in the nation. The win vs. Seton Hall extends a now 26 game home winning streak vs. the Hall.

Ranking Explained: Villanova is now 7-0 in the Big East and they are still the team to beat in the conference. Despite winning four Big East regular season titles in the last five years and two national championships in three years, this year has been one of Jay Wright’s most impressive coaching jobs.

Looking Forward: The Cats go to DePaul (1/30, 8:00), before coming back home to the Main Line to take on rival Georgetown (2/3, 12:00). A trip to Marquette looms on the schedule four games away.

2. Marquette:

18-3 (7-1)
Previous: 2 (EVEN)

Since Last Week, 2-0: W, vs. DePaul | W, @ Xavier

Week Recap: Marquette tackled the Blue Demons behind a career game from big man Theo John. John put up a career high 16 points to go with 10 rebounds and 6 blocks in the win. In the four games before his foul trouble game at Xavier, John had been averaging 10.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 3.8 BPG. His improvement in year two has been an underrated part of Marquette’s success and a huge part of their much improved defense. Despite a number of impressive wins this year, Marquette’s victory at Xavier was one of their best so far. The Musketeers came out hot and played one of their best games of the year behind a raucous Cintas Center crowd. Despite falling behind by double digits at one point in the second half and playing without Theo John for most of the game, Marquette did not flinch. They calmly shot their way to a victory behind a combined 72 points on 23-46 field goals and 13-22 3’s from Markus Howard and the Hauser brothers.

Ranking Explained: Marquette has established themselves as the most complete team in the conference and the only team capable of keeping up with Villanova this year.

Looking Forward: Just one game coming up next week for the Golden Eagles. They’ll travel to Hinkle to play Butler (1/30, 6:30) in a loaded Big East Wednesday.

3. Providence:

13-7 (3-4)
Previous: 9 (+6)

Since Last Week, 2-0: W, @ Xavier | W, vs. DePaul

Week Recap: It’s certainly has not been pretty for the Friars this year and this week was no exception. They did just enough to hold off Xavier to grind out a win on the road. Nate Watson lead the way for Providence with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in a battle with Tyrique Jones on the low block. On Sunday vs. DePaul, freshman A.J. Reeves returned after a nine game injury absence and he made his presence felt right away, hitting a three right after checking in. Reeves is Providence’s second best scorer and best three point shooter, something this team sorely missed playing without him. Reeves went on to hit 3 of Providence’s 4 made 3’s in the win over the Blue Demons. Alpha Diallo shot just 3-14 from the field, but connected on 14-14 at the line on his way to 20 points. He also chipped in nine rebounds, including five big offensive rebounds. This team is starting to show the toughness that we have come to expect from Ed Cooley teams from the past.

Ranking Explained: With Reeves returning, Providence should get enough offense from him, Diallo and Watson to score enough to win games. Pair that up with one of the better defenses in the conference and a bit of toughness, and this team should be one to keep an eye on in the Big East. Providence was picked to finish third in the Big East in the preseason and they’re now starting to show signs of that potential. Of course, not much separates them from the remaining seven teams below them.

Looking Forward: Next week should be a great test for the Friars with two road games. First, they go to Newark to play struggling Seton Hall (1/30, 7:00), before making a trip to DePaul (2/2, 2:30).

4. Creighton:

12-8 (3-4)
Previous: 10 (+6)

Since Last Week, 2-0: W, @ Georgetown | W, vs. Butler

Week Recap: Creighton snapped a four game losing streak and turned it into a two game winning streak this week. They started it off grabbing a real nice road win at Georgetown. Ty-Shon Alexander put up his highest point total of conference play, scoring 26 points on 8-16 from the field and 6-11 from 3, to go with 7 rebounds and 4 assists to zero turnovers. In the win over Butler, Creighton shot just 30.4% from 3, but beat the Bulldogs by holding them to under 40% from the field and outrebounded them 40-29. Despite playing without injured forward Damien Jefferson, Creighton’s offense has remained lethal behind a small ball, 4 guard lineup around Martin Krampelj.

Ranking Explained: As I wrote in last week’s rankings, Creighton had a tough start to conference play fueled by a fairly difficult schedule. They grabbed the first two in this softer four game stretch and winning these next two home games would go a long way toward establishing themselves in the upper end of the non-Marquette/Villanova part of the Big East.

Looking Forward: It’s two home games this week, St. John’s (1/30, 8:30) and Xavier (2/3, 1:00), for Creighton as they try to build off their current two game winning streak.

5. Georgetown:

13-7 (3-4)
Previous: 8 (+3)

Since Last Week, 1-1: L, vs. Creighton | W, @ St. John’s

Week Recap: Georgetown fell victim to Creighton in a shootout in DC. Jessie Govan lead the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds. He is now averaging 22.6 PPG on 47.1% from 3, 9.7 RPG and 2.1 BPG since Big East play started. However, Georgetown’s backcourt was outplayed by Creighton’s. James Akinjo came off the bench after a questionable late game decision in their previous game, a loss vs. Marquette. Despite the bench role, Akinjo still played 30 minutes and posted 11 assists. The Hoyas went to the Garden and evened up the season series with St. John’s. Mac McClung had 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He’s been a consistent scoring option for Georgetown after a slow start to his freshman year. In his first six games, McClung averaged 6.2 PPG, compared to his last 10 games where he is averaging 18.6 PPG.

Ranking Explained: Georgetown has lost four conference games by an average of 4 points and are 2-1 on the road in conference. If they start to defend homecourt better and close out some of these close games they can establish themselves as a upper-middle tier team in the conference.

Looking Forward: Georgetown plays Xavier (1/31, 8:00) at home and then will go to Villanova (2/3, 12:00) later in the week.

6. DePaul:

11-8 (3-5)
Previous: 5 (-1)

Since Last Week, 0-2: L, @ Marquette | L, @ Providence

Week Recap: While Paul Reed and Femi Olujobi have continued to hold down the paint in conference, Eli Cain and Max Strus have struggled mightily on the perimeter. Since Big East play started, Cain is scoring 10.4 PPG on 38.5/28.1/66.7 shooting, while Strus is scoring 14.6 PPG on 36.6/34.4/75.9. Cain is down from 14.2 PPG on 42.4/38.1/72.2 shooting and Strus is down from 20.1 PPG on 45.8/38.1/72.5 from the non-conference. It was another slow week for these two and it’s going to be hard for DePaul to accomplish anything this year without these two getting back in their scoring grooves.

Ranking Explained: Cain and Strus are the difference between this team being just another lower tier Big East team and the legitimate third team in this league. If these two get back on track and Olujobi and Reed continue doing what they’ve been doing inside, this could be a scary team.

Looking Forward: After a 1-2 Big East road trip, DePaul plays their next two at home. They play Villanova (1/30, 8:00), before a meeting with Providence (1/2, 2:30). DePaul will try to split meetings with both these teams after losing both road games at Villanova and at Providence.

7. Butler:

12-9 (3-5)
Previous: 3 (-4)

Since Last Week, 0-2: L, vs. Villanova | L, @ Creighton

Week Recap: Butler was coming off two wins before welcoming Nova to Hinkle. However, they really never got anything going vs. the Cats, despite hanging around for the length of the game. Kamar Baldwin was held to just 11 points on 5-14 shooting. When he struggles to score, so does Butler. However, the Bulldogs got scoring contributions from a number of different players in this one, Aaron Thompson put up 15 points, his best scoring performance of Big East play, and Sean McDermott and Jordan Tucker were both in double figures with 14 points and 11 points respectively. In the loss in Omaha, Tucker made his first career start but scored just 9 points on 2-10 shooting. Baldwin was the only Bulldog in double figures with 23 points and Butler managed just 61 points in the loss.

Ranking Explained: Butler just has not been able to find a consistent scoring option after Kamar Baldwin. If they cannot find 1-2 consistent scorers behind Baldwin, this team will be difficult to rely on.

Looking Forward: Butler gets a couple of home games this week. First they welcome Marquette (1/30, 6:30), before playing Seton Hall (2/2, 12:00) at Hinkle.

8. Xavier:

11-10 (3-5)
Previous: 7 (-1)

Since Last Week, 0-2: L, vs. Providence | L, vs. Marquette

Week Recap: Xavier dropped two home games last week. They played an awful game vs. Providence, especially in the first half. In the second half, they came back, but squandered three opportunities to tie the game down 2 in the last 30 seconds. Despite another loss, they bounced back well in game two of the week. They were tied with Marquette at the half and even went up double digits at times in the second, but were overwhelmed by a second half Marquette long range shooting attack. Tyrique Jones and Paul Scruggs led the way with 21 points each. Jones also added 11 rebounds, while Scruggs added 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Quentin Goodin continued to come off the bench and played a solid game after a poor showing vs. Providence where he turned the ball over 6 times.

Ranking Explained: Xavier has lost three in a row and are the the first Big East team to get to 10 season losses. Their raw talent will make them a threat night in and night out, but as of right now, they are trending toward the bottom of the conference.

Looking Forward: Xavier is on the road this week, they first go to Georgetown (1/31, 8:00) and then go to Creighton (2/3, 1:00).

9. St. John’s:

15-5 (3-5)
Previous: 4 (-5)

Since Last Week, 0-1: L, vs. Georgetown

Week Recap: St. John’s loses another one this week and they are now just 1-4 over their last 5 games. This team is easily the most underachieving team in the conference and there’s seemingly no leadership on the floor or from the bench. Their top five guys will get their numbers every game, but they’re not playing together as a team and they’re certainly not making winning plays. Just look at the last minute and a half vs. Georgetown. Down 2 points, Shamorie Ponds steals the ball and from the floor attempts to throw an unnecessary behind the back pass, turnover. Ponds and the Johnnies steal the ball again only to see L.J. Figueroa chuck up a rushed pull-up three-pointer down 2. St. John’s gets three chances at a putback, but misses all three and watches Georgetown run back down the floor with a 4-0 fastbreak leading to a game clinching dunk from Mac McClung and the Hoyas. There seems to be no sense of urgency during most St. John’s games, until the end when they’re all of a sudden in a frenzy to come back from behind or to close out games. They had no problem turning Georgetown over late in the game multiple times and had no problem getting inside for multiple putback attempts, but time and time again they prove themselves incapable of making correct decisions late in games. They seem to be trying to do the bare minimum to win each night and while that may have worked during their non-conference schedule, it’s not enough in the Big East season.

Ranking Explained: The team touted as the most talented in the conference in the preseason, is now just 1-4 over their last 5 games. It’s hard to decide who’s been the most disappointing team in conference play between the Johnnies and the next team on my list.

Looking Forward: St. John’s starts the week by going to Creighton (1/30, 8:30), before going to Duke (2/2, 12:00). When they play the way they are supposed to, they can beat anyone, however this happens less often than not.

10. Seton Hall:

12-8 (3-5)
Previous: 6 (-4)

Since Last Week, 0-1: L, @ Villanova

Week Recap: Seton Hall had a week off after losing four of five before traveling to Villanova to play the surging Wildcats. A small part of me thought that the time off, coupled with the challenging opponent would force the Hall the break out of their slump and get back on track and at least give Nova a game. However, that did not happen even slightly. They had 12 turnovers in the first 12 minutes, something that has become a trend during their midseason slump. Once again it was the backcourt duo of Quincy McKnight and Myles Powell who lead the turnover parade, posting 5 and 7 respectively. These two have averaged a combined 7.7 turnovers per game since the first loss to DePaul six games ago. It’s also not just the number of the turnovers, but the nature of them as well. There have been way too many unforced, sloppy turnovers fueled by disjointed play from this entire team. Powell also played easily his worst game of the year, he scored just 3 points and was benched for most of the second half, and played just 25 minutes. Myles Cale has been the Pirates lone bright spot recently. He has shot 12-17 from 3 over the Hall’s last 3 games after shooting just 29.8% to start the season.

Ranking Explained: This team was too good in the non-conference to play this poorly for the rest of the year. But at this point, they’re playing like the worst team in the conference and it isn’t particularly close.

Looking Forward: Seton Hall gets a home game vs. Providence (1/30, 7:00) as they continue to try to right the ship. They then go to Butler (2/2, 12:00) to try to complete a season sweep of the Bulldogs.

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