Big East Basketball Power Rankings: More Unexpected Results

(Photo: Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)

Welcome to the eighth 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: 1/13/2019
A Two-Horse Race: 1/21/2019
Trying to Separate 3-10: 1/28/2019
Still Searching for Order: 2/5/2019

1. Villanova

19-5 (10-1)
Previous: 1 (EVEN)

Since Last Week, 1-1: W, vs. Creighton | L, @ Marquette

Week Recap: Villanova started the week by getting an overtime home win versus a shorthanded Creighton team playing without two starers. Leading scorer Ty-Shon Alexander and freshman standout Marcus Zegarowski both sat with injuries. Nova played maybe their worst game of conference play, but grinded out a tenth straight Big East win behind a career high 17 points from Saddiq Bey. Eric Paschall and Phil Booth had their worst combined offensive game of the year, they shot 9-27 from the field and 3-13 from 3. Villanova then suffered their first conference loss of the season at Marquette. Nova fell down by 15 points around the midpoint of the second half, but answered Marquette’s second half push with a 23-6 run that culminated in a Jermaine Samuels 3-pointer that gave Nova a two point lead with 6:20 to go. Phil Booth traded buckets with Markus Howard and Sacar Anim the rest of the way until the last possession, where Booth and the Wildcats failed to get a final shot up as time expired. It’s hard to get upset at Booth for his poor execution after he made so many big shots leading up to that final possession. He still is learning to be “the guy” taking the last shot for the Cats, but I’d bet on him figuring it out before the season ends. My biggest takeaway from the week from the Cats was the play of Jermaine Samuels. He had maybe his best game of the season and it seems that Jay Wright’s efforts with him are starting to play off as he learns to play out of position at center this year for Villanova. He showed great potential to be a guy who can both stretch the floor on offense and protect the rim defensively with several key plays in the second half. I’m eager to see how he can contribute toward the end of this year and beyond.

Ranking Explained: A 1 point road loss versus a team like Marquette won’t break the Cats. A Marquette home loss versus St. John’s helps maintain Nova at one in the rankings.

Looking Forward: Villanova plays a home game versus Providence (2/13, 6:30) before traveling to the Garden to take on St. John’s (2/17, 5:00). The Johnnies get a second shot at the Wildcats after losing at the Pavilion.

2. Marquette:

20-4 (9-2)
Previous: 2 (EVEN)

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

Week Recap: Marquette started the week dropping a home game to St. John’s, their second loss to the Johnnies on the year. St. John’s long, aggressive switching defense gave Marquette trouble throughout this one, but especially early on in the game where it took Markus Howard nearly 14 minutes of game time to finally get on the board. The Golden Eagles went into the half down 10, but fought back in the second in what was one of the best Big East games of the year. Ultimately, their second half comeback proved to not be enough as Shamorie Ponds and St. John’s held on for the win. Marquette bounced back from a one point loss, with a one point win in the latter half of the week over previously Big East undefeated Villanova. The Hauser brothers had their lowest combined scoring output in this one with just 4 points combined as Joey Hauser was held scoreless. Their previous lowest total came in the win over Kansas St. where they scored just 9 points combined and Markus Howard went for 45 and Sacar Anim added 16. This time around Howard went for 38 and Anim added 18. These two picked up the slack for the Hausers and scored 56 of 66 points for the Golden Eagles. Anim has now scored in double figures in three straight games and over that stretch he is shooting 18-27 from the field and 5-8 from 3. He’s been a great defender and glue guy for the Golden Eagles, but if he can continue to give them some more consistent scoring production, this team becomes that much better. Howard has made the spectacular the ordinary and he now has scored 37 or more points in five games this season. The win was Marquette’s second over Villanova, compared to nine losses to the Cats, in the Wojo era.

Ranking Explained: The home loss to St. John’s keeps Marquette out of the number 1 spot in the rankings. However, the difference between 1 and 2 still shrunk this week.

Looking Forward: Marquette goes to DePaul (2/12, 8:00) in their only game next week.

3. St. John’s:

17-7 (5-6)
Previous: 4 (+1)

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

Week Recap: In the Johnnies first game of the week, Coach Mullin wanted to prevent “them Hausers” from getting catch and shoot opportunities. They certainly did that on their way to completing a season sweep of the Golden Eagles. The Hausers scored just 23 points on 6-19 from the field and 3-14 from 3-point range. Markus Howard added just 17 points on 5-17 shooting as the Red Storm found a way to slow him down yet again, after a previous 8 point performance in Queens. St. John’s played their best defensive game of the season and their quickness, length and ability to switch gave Marquette fits. Sedee Keita gave some great minutes off the bench playing for Marvin Clark who sat with foul trouble for much of the game. Keita was particularity effective defensively when switching on Markus Howard, and he did not allow the Big East’s leading scorer and most dynamic ball handler to create any separation off the dribble. Justin Simon played one his best offensive games of the year, scoring 19 point on 11 shots. Simon did a great job getting in the lane and hitting floaters. When he gets it going offensively, this team is very tough to beat. Shamorie Ponds played a phenomenal game and hit a number of big shots. Ponds had 28 points on 9-19 shooting. In game two of the week, maddeningly inconsistent St. John’s fell by double digits to Providence at the Garden. After holding Marquette’s electric offense to 69 points, they allowed the Big East’s worst offense to score 70 points. The Johnnies were outrebounded by 20 in the game and surrendered 16 offensive rebounds. Mustapha Heron sat with a knee injury in this one, and it’s clear that this team cannot afford to play without any of their top five guys. To add insult to injury, Simon and Clark combined for just 10 points. This team can be great when everything goes right, but the margin for error is minuscule. Freshman Josh Roberts played 14 minutes in Heron’s absence and he posted 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Ranking Explained: The season sweep of Marquette puts St. John’s in the third spot in the rankings. I’ll excuse the shorthanded Providence loss for now, but they’re on thin ice here at number 3.

Looking Forward: St. John’s plays two home games this week, first playing Butler (2/12, 8:30) at Carnesecca, before welcoming Villanova (2/17, 5:00) to the Garden. The Johnnies look to avoid season sweeps to both Butler and Nova this week.

4. Butler:

14-10 (5-6)
Previous: 7 (+3)

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

Week Recap: Butler picked up a win in their lone game this week over Georgetown and the road win splits the season series with the Hoyas. Butler got scoring production from three different guys in this game, Kamar Baldwin had 18, Jordan Tucker added 15 and Paul Jorgensen tacked on 12. Defensively, the Bulldogs held the Big East’s most uptempo and highest scoring offense to just 69 points. The held the Hoyas to just 37.7% shooting from the field and 27.3% shooting from 3-point range.

Ranking Explained: Butler has had their struggles this year, but they’re sticking around in the Big East. The road win at Georgetown has them up a few spots to 4 this week.

Looking Forward: The Bulldogs go to St. John’s (2/12, 8:30) and later play DePaul (2/16, 8:00) at Hinkle.

5. Georgetown:

15-9 (5-6)
Previous: 3 (-2)

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

Week Recap: Georgetown could have made a statement this week by going 2-0, instead they fell to Butler at home in game two of the week and settled for a mediocre 1-1 week that maintains their status as just another under-.500 Big East team. Despite this, the Hoyas did take care of business in game one of the week. They outrebounded Providence by 17 and all five Georgetown starters scored in double-figures. Josh LeBlanc led the way with a 17 point, 11 rebound double-double. James Akinjo struggled to shoot going just 1-11 from the field, but he still managed 10 points and added 8 assists. Jamorko Pickett went 4-4 from 3, and in his last three games he is now averaging 13.3 PPG on 9-12 from 3-point range after scoring just 5.6 PPG on 33.9% from 3 in his first 20 games. In game two, Georgetown did not get enough offense to win, scoring just 69 points. Mac McClung had 21 and Pickett added 18.

Ranking Explained: Georgetown falls a couple spots with the home loss. They could have went above .500 with a home win vs. Butler, but rather they stay in the middle of the pack in the Big East. The Hoyas are still 3-2 over their last five games.

Looking Forward: Just one game this week as Georgetown travels to Seton Hall (8:30).

6. DePaul:

13-9 (5-6)
Previous: 6 (EVEN)

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

Week Recap: DePaul got the job done this week by beating Xavier at the Cintas Center. The win gives DePaul a series split with the Musketeers this season. Paul Reed and Femi Olujobi contributed a combined 30 points and 17 rebounds as Olujobi continued to come off the bench. Max Strus’ 17 points were his conference high versus an opponent not named Seton Hall this year. Despite the scoring, Strus shot just 6-20 from the floor and 1-9 from 3. The Blue Demons had 9 steals in the game and raised their season average to 7.0 SPG, good for third in the conference.

Ranking Explained: DePaul did what they were supposed to do this week and they hold at 6 in the rankings.

Looking Forward: The Blue Demons play a huge home game versus Marquette (2/12, 8:00). Tuesday will be DePaul’s last chance to get a win versus the Big East’s top two teams. They travel to Butler (2/16, 8:00) later in the week. DePaul has a chance to make some noise this week in the Big East.

7. Seton Hall:

14-9 (5-6)
Previous: 8 (+1)

Since Last Week, 1-0: W, vs. Creighton

Week Recap: Seton Hall continued their gradual climb back toward the upper half of the Big East with a 63-58 win versus Creighton. The Hall came out strong and led 12-5 by the under-16 media timeout, but significantly slowed down after the hot start and crawled their way to a 31 point first half. It has seemed to become a pattern for Sandro Mamukelashvili to come out very strong in the first few minutes of games, before losing his rhythm and falling into the background of Seton Hall’s offensive attack over the remainder of games. Mamu had 6 of those first Seton Hall 12, but then did not score the rest of the game, shooting 0-5 from the field and 0-3 from 3-point range after a 2-2 start from the field including a 3. Unlocking his potential will be crucial for this team, whether it happens this season or sometime over the next two. Seton Hall survived for much of the rest of the game until Creighton finally started to put some offense together late in the game by going on a 13-2 run that gave them a 6 point lead. Myles Powell answered the Creighton run by scoring 13 of the Hall’s final 15 points on the way to the win.

Ranking Explained: The Hall have now won 2 of 3 after their 4 game losing streak and they are inching their way back up the in the rankings.

Looking Forward: Seton Hall plays their home leg versus Georgetown (2/13, 8:30), in these teams’ first meeting this year. They then go to Omaha to play the second half of their series with Creighton. That’s 2 games versus Creighton in a 3 game stretch.

8. Providence:

14-10 (4-7)
Previous: 9 (+1)

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

Week Recap: Providence dropped their first game of week to Georgetown. Alpha Diallo was the only Friar in double figures with 22 points. A.J. Reeves received his first and only start since returning from his injury and he posted just 3 points in the loss. Reeves is now just averaging 4.8 PPG in 5 games since returning, after averaging 14.2 PPG in 10 games before his injury. In game two of the week, Providence beat up a short handed St. John’s team in the paint. They outrebounded the Johnnies by 20, behind a 15 rebound game for Alpha Diallo. Nate Watson lead the way scoring inside with 18 points. Isaiah Jackson added 12 and made 2 3’s in what’s been a tough offensive year for him. David Duke put up 11 points, he has now scored 36 points in Providence’s last 3 games after scoring just 16 points over his previous 4 games.

Ranking Explained: Even with Heron out, Providence’s road win at St. John’s still has to count for something. However, the home loss versus Georgetown holds them back a bit.

Looking Forward: Providence goes to Villanova (2/13, 6:30) before coming back to The Dunk to play Xavier (2/16, 2:00).

9. Creighton:

13-11 (4-7)
Previous: 5 (-4)

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

Week Recap: Creighton had a tough week last week. The Blue Jays played shorthanded at Villanova without leading scoring Ty-Shon Alexander and third highest scorer Marcus Zegarowski and still managed to force overtime. They knew they would not be able to keep up in a typical Creighton uptempo shootout, so instead they slowed the pace and stepped inside the 3-point line. They took just 17 3’s and played pretty good defense versus Villanova. Davion Mintz had 19 in Alexander’s absence and Martin Krampelj added a double-double with 13 points in 10 games. Kaleb Joseph missed potential game winning free throws late in the second half, allowing for overtime. In overtime Villanova took the lid off the rim and put up 17 points and sunk Creighton. Ty-Shon Alexander returned versus Seton Hall, but was mostly a non-factor and scored just 11 points on 3-14 shooting. Martin Krampelj had a career high 25 points to go with 11 rebounds. Freshman forward Christian Bishop also posted a career high with 10 points off the bench. Creighton once again struggled to score, posting just 58 in this one and once again fell late on the road. The Blue Jays had started to pull away from the Hall in the second half, but a late Myles Powell run stopped Creighton.

Ranking Explained: Considering the circumstances this week, Creighton did not have a terrible week, but someone had to be ranked ninth. The difference between Creighton and the four or five teams above them is still razor thin.

Looking Forward: The Jays go to Xavier (2/13, 8:30) before a weekend rematch with Seton Hall (2/17, 3:00) in Omaha. Getting healthy and getting the offense back to track will be of vital importance going forward.

10. Xavier:

11-13 (3-8)
Previous: 10 (EVEN)

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

Week Recap: Xavier made it six straight losses this week by falling to DePaul at home and they are looking like the clear worst team in the conference. Kyle Castlin came off the bench for the first time this year as Zach Hankins returned to the starting lineup for the Musketeers. Naji Marshall, Paul Scruggs and Quentin Goodin combined for 47 points, but also combined for 14 turnovers in the double-digit home loss. Xavier’s personnel losses from last year to this year were fairly similar to Villanova’s. Considering they also lost their head coach and did not have two fifth year seniors to help with the transition, it’s no surprise why they are struggling. It pretty safe to close the door on Xavier this season, but there’s no doubt in my mind that next season will be a different story for the X-men.

Ranking Explained: Six straight losses, I’m pretty confident in saying this is the worst team in the conference.

Looking Forward: Xavier welcomes Creighton (2/13, 8:30) and then goes to Providence (2/16, 2:00).

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