Big East Basketball Power Rankings: Still Searching for Order

(Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

Welcome to the seventh 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
Trying to Separate 3-10: 1/28/2019

1. Villanova

18-4 (9-0)
Previous: 1 (EVEN)

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

Week Recap: Villanova kicked off the week against DePaul in Chicago and finished a season sweep of the Blue Demons. Saddiq Bey recorded his first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. 7 of Bey’s 11 rebounds were on the offensive end, Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree added 3 more off. rebounds and the Cats ended the game grabbing 36.8% of their misses. They outrebounded DePaul 35-28, a stark contrast to their first matchup when the Blue Demons won the rebounding battle 34-20. Villanova faced a tough Georgetown team on Sunday and grinded out a fairly close win. They did not let Jessie Govan score before he fouled out late in the second half. Stopping opposing teams’ star players has become a consistent theme for Jay Wright’s team over league play this season. Collin Gillespie set a new career high with 30 points and picked up the slack for a struggling Phil Booth. Booth had been shooting 50.4% from the field and 46.9% from 3 over Nova’s last ten games and was bound to have an off night eventually. Jermaine Samuels doubled his previous game high rebounding total, he pulled down 16 rebounds in the win.

Ranking Explained: Villanova improved to 9-0 in the Big East this year and they’re the team to beat until proven otherwise.

Looking Forward: Villanova plays a home game vs. Creighton (2/6, 8:00), before taking a highly anticipated trip to Marquette (2/9, 2:30) to take on the Golden Eagles on “National Marquette Day”.

2. Marquette:

19-3 (8-1)
Previous: 2 (EVEN)

Since Last Week, 1-0: W, @ Butler

Week Recap: Markus Howard added a sixth 30 point game to his season and Marquette rolled on the road in their only game this week. They held Butler to just 58 points and 32.8% shooting in the win. They continue to show why they have both the most complete starting lineup and strongest bench in the conference. Business as usual for the Golden Eagles.

Ranking Explained: Marquette holds in the 2 spot in my rankings. They have a great opportunity to make the jump back to number one this week when they welcome Villanova to the Fiserv Forum.

Looking Forward: Marquette puts their eight game winning streak to the test this week with two games at home, where they are 14-0. First they play a rematch game vs. St. John’s (2/5, 8:00). The Johnnies are responsible for Marquette’s last loss and their lone loss in Big East play. Then they welcome Villanova on “National Marquette Day” in a battle of Big East heavyweights. Huge week for the Golden Eagles.

3. Georgetown:

14-8 (4-5)
Previous: 5 (+2)

Since Last Week, 1-1: W, vs. Xavier | L, @ Villanova

Week Recap: Georgetown put up 52 second half points to take out Xavier at home early in the week. Freshmen James Akinjo and Josh LeBlanc combined for 40 points on 14-21 shooting and 8 steals on the game. They ended the week by going to Villanova and putting up a pretty good fight against the Big East undefeated Wildcats and even went into the half with a lead. James Akinjo scored 19 in the loss and Trey Mourning added a conference career high 12 points to help make up for Jessie Govan’s scoreless day. Mac McClung struggled to shoot in this one and had a poor week overall. McClung averaged just 7.5 PPG on 6-23 shooting in two games this week after previously scoring 18.8 PPG on 50.0% shooting in his four Big East games.

Ranking Explained: Since Villanova and Marquette established themselves as the first and second teams in my rankings three weeks ago, I have had three different teams in the third spot in my rankings. This week now makes four different teams in four weeks. No one is emerging as a real threat behind the top two in the conference. A solid 1-1 week bumps up Georgetown to the best of the rest in the Big East.

Looking Forward: Georgetown plays two winnable games this week and a 2-0 week this week would go a long way. The Hoyas go to Providence (2/6, 7:30) before coming back to DC to take on Butler (2/9, 12:00).

4. St. John’s:

16-6 (4-5)
Previous: 9 (+5)

Since Last Week, 1-1: W, @ Creighton | L, @ Duke

Week Recap: St. John’s started their 3-game road trip by going 1-1. After the disappointing home loss to Georgetown, the Johnnies righted the ship taking out Creighton in Omaha. Shamorie Ponds put up 26 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 6 steals and 6 turnovers in the win. St. John’s move the ball well and shot well from distance hitting 13 of 31 3’s. The Red Storm had been getting just 5.0 PPG from the bench throughout Big East play, but the bench guys chipped in 16 vs. Creighton. Bryan Trimble posted a season high 11 points and hit 3 of 5 threes in extended minutes due to Justin Simon’s migraines. In the latter half on the week, St. John’s fell by 30 at Duke. They came out pretty strong early in the game and got great contributions from L.J. Figueroa, Marvin Clark and Mustapha Heron. However, Duke’s Trey Jones, one of the nation’s best defenders, picked up Shamorie Ponds full court every time down and Duke doubled Shamorie on every ball screen. The attention he faced seemed to get to his head and he played a sloppy, unfocused game. Ponds tuned the ball over five times and was held scoreless in the first half. In the second, the Red Storm were not as sharp and Ponds never really got going and St. John’s was overwhelmed on the road vs. one of the nation’s elite teams.

Ranking Explained: St. John’s is probably the only team in the Big East that has the talent to compete with Marquette or Villanova, but they also are a threat to lose to anyone on any given night. They still have work to do to become a more consistent team, but at the moment none of the other seven lower tier Big East teams have been able to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, and despite the huge loss to Duke, St. John’s had a solid week. They’re trending up at the moment. Playing a competitive game at Marquette and beating Providence handily at home would be another nice step in the right direction.

Looking Forward: St. John’s travels to Marquette (2/5, 8:00) to try to complete a season sweep of the Golden Eagles after the Johnnies won by 20 at Carnesecca earlier in the year. They then come back home to play Providence (2/9, 12:00).

5. Creighton:

13-9 (4-5)
Previous: 4 (-1)

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

Week Recap: Creighton went 1-1 at home this week, first falling to St. John’s before beating Xavier handily. Creighton dropped both games to St. John’s by almost identical scores this season and they struggled mightily to shoot in both outings. After shooting just 43.4% from the field and 31.4% from 3 in their first meeting, the Jays shot even worse in the home meeting, hitting 41.7% of field goals and 26.5% of 3-point attempts. Both games vs. St. John’s were uncharacteristic from the 4th best shooting team in that nation from both the field and from 3. Creighton rebounded with a big win over Xavier despite taking just 15 threes, their lowest number of attempts on the season and eight less 3-point attempts than any other Big East game they have played this season. Big man Martin Krampelj had a nice day with 23 points on 8-11 shooting with 6 rebounds and 4 steals.

Ranking Explained: Creighton has now won three of their last four games and they seem to be one of the more consistent teams in the conference with talent that should have them finish in the upper half of the Big East.

Looking Forward: The Blue Jays play four of their next five on the road, where they are just 2-4 this season. They go to Villanova (2/6, 8:00) and Seton Hall (2/9, 8:00) to kick off this difficult road stretch.

6. DePaul:

12-9 (4-6)
Previous: 6 (EVEN)

Since Last Week, 1-1: L, vs. Villanova | W, vs. Providence

Week Recap: Eli Cain scored 17 points, his best total of conference play, and Femi Olujobi had his fourth 20 point game in conference play in the loss to Villanova. The Blue Demons then beat Providence to split the season series. They won the home leg behind a 18 point, 15 rebound performance from breakout sophomore Paul Reed. 15 rebounds is a new career high for Reed who has set a number of career highs this year. Max Strus’ scoring struggles continued this week, he scored 13 points in both games on 8-25 shooting overall. In eight conference games played against opponents not named Seton Hall this season, Strus is averaging just 12.5 PPG on 30.4% shooting. Strus is certainly more than just a scorer, but if he can get it going on the offensive end like he is capable of (21.5 PPG, 14-24 FG, 9-13 3FG in two games vs. Seton Hall), this team could make some more noise in the Big East.

Ranking Explained: DePaul sits squarely in the middle of the pack in the Big East with the potential to be better than that. As of right now though, they still have to show more before they move up in my rankings.

Looking Forward: Just one game this week as DePaul travels to Cincinnati to take on Xavier. They’ll have a chance to beat Xavier at the Cintas Center, after Xavier won at Wintrust Arena to open Big East play.

7. Butler:

13-10 (4-6)
Previous: 7 (EVEN)

Since Last Week, 1-1: L, vs. Marquette | W, vs. Seton Hall

Week Recap: Butler, like almost every other Big East team this week went 1-1, winning at home and losing to Villanova/Marquette. You need to score to beat Marquette and Butler just could not score in their first game of the week, putting up just 58 points on 32.8% from the field. The seniors lead the way vs. Seton Hall. Nate Fowler played his best offensive game of the season in a year that has been a bit of a struggle for him. He had 15 points, a season high, and hit 2 3’s. Paul Jorgensen’s 18 points off the bench were his highest of Big East play, where he has been averaging 7.1 PPG on 37.3% from the field. Butler took advantage of a lax Seton Hall defense in the first half and posted 46 points. For the game they shot 12-25 from 3-point range and the first half success was enough to hold off Seton Hall’s late game run.

Ranking Explained: Butler escaped Hinkle and did just enough to hold off Seton Hall. For now, they hold at 7 in my rankings.

Looking Forward: Butler has just one game this week, they go to Georgetown (2/9, 12:00) for a chance to get a nice road win.

8. Seton Hall:

13-9 (4-6)
Previous: 10 (+2)

Since Last Week, 1-1: W, vs. Providence, L, @ Butler

Week Recap: Despite just the 1-1 record, Seton Hall had a very productive week last week. They broke the four game losing streak by beating Providence at home behind 31 points from the resurgent Myles Powell. Powell bounced back very well from his, season low, 3 point performance at Villanova last Sunday. Seton Hall fell to Butler on the road in game two of the week, 70-68. Powell played another good game and scored 21 in the loss. As a team, the Hall’s second half play might have been the best they have looked since their road win at Xavier on January 2nd. The first half was littered with poor defense, where Seton Hall surrendered 46 points. The defense especially struggled on the 3-point line where Butler hit 12-25 in the game. The Pirates won the second half 34-24 and played a great final 10 minutes where they had a late surge to get back into the game before losing on a controversial goaltending call on Romaro Gill. Gill has become Seton Hall’s most reliable big man since coming back from an ankle injury. He’s been a dependable anchor defensively for the Hall. The Pirates need to build off the second half vs. Butler and continue that play into next week. Getting Sandro Mamukelashvili back on track would help, he has scored just 7 points on 2-15 shooting over Seton Hall’s last three games.

Ranking Explained: Seton Hall is starting to play up to their potential again and look to be headed back toward the top of the Big East after a rough month of January.

Looking Forward: Just one game for the Pirates this week, they get Creighton (2/9, 8:00) at home.

9. Providence:

13-9 (3-6)
Previous: 3 (-6)

Since Last Week, 0-2: L, @ Seton Hall | L, @ DePaul

Week Recap: Providence had a chance to make a statement in two winnable road games this week, but they wound up dropping both of them. They first fell to Seton Hall on the road. They were out-rebounded by 10 and shot just 38.2% from the field. Alpha Diallo put up 21 points on 8-14 shooting and was the lone bright spot in the loss. In the game at DePaul, they led most of the way, but they wound up watching that one slip away as well. David Duke had an effective offensive game scoring 17 points on 5-11 shooting. A.J. Reeves has now played three games since returning from his injury. He had the big 11 point game in his first game back, the home win vs. DePaul, but in two games since, he has scored just 4 points combined. With their scoring struggles, he needs to be more a factor if Providence has any hopes of making a run. However, it’s probably not fair to put that much responsibility on a freshman, especially one coming off an injury that saw him miss a significant amount of time. It’s worth noting that the Friars have scored more than 72 points just once in nine Big East games.

Ranking Explained: Bumping Providence up to three last week was as much based off their recent play, as it was based off my expectations for them going forward, which they failed to live up to. Dropping six spots after two road losses may be a bit severe, but I probably had them a bit high to begin with.

Looking Forward: Providence gets two fellow Big East founding members this week. They play at home vs. Georgetown (2/6, 7:30) before traveling to St. John’s (2/9, 12:00). Time is of the essence for Providence.

10. Xavier:

11-12 (3-7)
Previous: 8 (-2)

Since Last Week, 0-2: L, @ Georgetown | L, @ Creighton

Week Recap: Xavier dropped two road games this week and their losing streak is now at five games. Xavier led vs. Georgetown 36-28 at the half, but gave up 52 second half points and squandered their lead late and fell 80-73. Tyrique Jones who had been averaging 16.4 PPG and 6.4 RPG over his last five previous games had just 6 points and 5 rebounds in the loss. In game two of the week, Quentin Goodin returned to the starting lineup and Xavier started with a smaller lineup that saw Zach Hankins return to the bench. Goodin had 13 points and 7 assists, but Xavier scored just 54 points and lost by 22.

Ranking Explained: Xavier is looking like the worst team in the conference. I still believe they can be a threat on any given night, but consistency still eludes them.

Looking Forward: The Musketeers have one game this week to get back on track. They’ll try to complete a season sweep of DePaul (2/9, 8:00) at home.

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