Big East Basketball Power Rankings: Don’t Count Anyone Out

Welcome to the tenth 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
More Unexpected Results: 2/11/2019
Reestablishing the Second Tier: 2/19/2019

1. Marquette:

23-4 (12-2)
Previous: 1 (EVEN)

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

Week Recap: Marquette once again took care of business this week, winning two games against inferior Big East opponents. They had an early scare at home versus Butler and even trailed going into the half, but in typical 2019 Marquette fashion they adjusted in the second half on the way to another win. Markus Howard went for 28 and Theo John added 15 points and 12 rebounds in the 10 point win. The Golden Eagles got another win at Providence to end the week. A slow start to the game and an early Markus Howard injury slowed their attack, but Marquette took care of Providence winning by 18. Marquette overcame Howard’s injury and off afternoon from him by getting 18 points from Sacar Anim on 8-12 shooting. Sam Hauser added an 18 point, 13 rebound double-double and Joey Hauser scored 15 on 6-8 shooting. Joey’s productive game ended a 5 game stretch that saw him shoot just 6-31 from the field and fail to reach double digit scoring in a single game.

Ranking Explained: Marquette looks like the clear best team in the conference at this point. The gap between them and Villanova has certainly grown over these past two weeks.

Looking Forward: Marquette plays a highly anticipated game at Villanova (2/27, 9:00) this week before coming back home to play Creighton (3/3, 3:00). Their last meeting with Creighton featured a 53 point record setting performance from Markus Howard and a wild overtime finish.

2. Villanova

20-8 (11-4)
Previous: 2 (EVEN)

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

Week Recap: Villanova’s 0-2 week pushes their losing streak to 3 and they have now dropped 4 of their last 5 games after a school record 10-0 start to Big East play. It’s worth nothing that all four losses have come on the road. They started this week losing to Georgetown. Phil Booth had 26 points on 10-22 shooting and Eric Paschall added 16. Those two scored 42 of Nova’s 73 in the game. However, it was a hot shooting night from the Hoyas that sunk the Cats in this one. Georgetown shot over 50% from the field and Jessie Govan and Mac McClung each scored 21. Govan’s 21 was in stark contrast to his scoreless outing he had in these two team’s first meeting. 85 Georgetown points are the most surrendered from Villanova’s defense this season. With only two reliable scoring options, Villanova can’t get in shootouts with opponents. When an uptempo team like Georgetown has a hot shooting night, Villanova may struggle. In game two of the week Villanova’s offensive issues shined a bit brighter as the Cats only managed 54 points in the loss to Xavier and even suffered an eight minute scoring drought in the second half. Eric Paschall led the way with 17 points and Saddiq Bey added 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Ranking Explained: It seems like Villanova is falling back to Earth after a “too good to be true” start to conference play. This team relies so heavily on Phil Booth and Eric Paschall for scoring that it’s certainly no surprise that they’re struggling in a 7 game stretch where Phil Booth is scoring 17.4 PPG on just 37.4% shooting from the field and 21.2% shooting from 3. I’m certainly not blaming Booth for this team’s struggles, but it’s become abundantly clear that when he’s not hitting shots and creating offense, there is not enough offensive firepower behind him to cushion Villanova’s fall. Villanova had enough of a buffer between them and the teams below them that they’ll hold at second for now. However, the gap between two and three in the Big East has shrunk.

Looking Forward: Villanova will need to get themselves right in a hurry as they welcome Marquette (2/27, 9:00) and Butler (3/2, 2:00) to the Pavilion this week. Despite their recent struggles, I’d bet on Villanova giving Marquette a pretty good shot on Wednesday.

3. St. John’s:

20-8 (8-7)
Previous: 3 (EVEN)

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

Week Recap: St. John’s performed their Jekyll and Hyde act once again this week by first falling to Providence before taking down Seton Hall. Providence competed the regular season sweep of St. John’s behind center Nate Watson. The 6’10” Watson averaged 19.5 PPG this season in two meetings with St. John’s, much higher than his 11.6 season scoring average. Containing post scorers could be an issue for St. John’s down the line. Offensively, in this game, Shamorie Ponds scored a season low 4 points and Mustapha Heron added just 8. Marvin Clark was held scoreless and fouled out early in the second half on a technical foul before being ejected after picking up a second technical from the bench in an ugly sequence for the Johnnies. Freshman Marcellus Earlington was on the floor for 11 minutes in garbage time and he put his minutes to good use posting 10 points, 5 rebounds and a block. He earned some more minutes in the win against Seton Hall later in the week and impressed again with 3 rebounds and 3 blocks in another 11 minutes. Earlington had 3 of 12 St. John’s blocks in the game as St. John’s got 10 blocks from the bench alone as Sedee Keita had 4 and Greg Williams Jr. added 3 more. The young bench trio of Keita, Williams Jr. and Earlington received significant minutes for the first time this season and had some nice contributions. Ponds and Clark both bounced back nicely from their struggles versus Providence and led the Red Storm offensive attack. Ponds had 27 points on 10-18 shooting and Clark added 18 and hit 4-8 3’s. As the Pirates sleepwalked out of the gate, St. John’s pounced early to grab a big 28-5 lead. They maintained their lead throughout and withstood a late Myles Powell led run to split the regular season series with the Hall.

Ranking Explained: The huge losses to Providence have been a bit perplexing, but since the 30 point loss at Duke, St. John’s is 4-0 against non-Providence teams. Even with the Providence losses, this is probably the most consistency we have seen from this team since conference play started. A split versus Providence could have closed some of the gap between the Johnnies and Villanova and St. John’s has failed to take full advantage of Nova’s recent struggles. Despite that, this is still looking like a clear top three team in the conference.

Looking Forward: St. John’s plays Xavier (2/28, 6:30) for the first time this season before going to DePaul (3/3, 12:00) to try to avenge a home loss earlier in the year versus the Blue Demons. St. John’s welcomes a Xavier team on a current 4 game winning streak. After struggling with Nate Watson all season, it should be interesting to see how the Johnnies deal with Xavier’s big front line.

4. Butler:

15-12 (6-8)
Previous: 5 (+1)

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

Week Recap: Butler had just one game this week and almost made the most of it versus Marquette. The Bulldogs went into halftime with a lead versus the Golden Eagles, but they were overwhelmed by Marquette’s lethal offense in the second half. Sean McDermott scored a career high 27 points, but leading scorer Kamar Baldwin had just 12 and Butler’s offense could not keep up with that of Marquette.

Ranking Explained: Butler moves up a spot despite the loss as they have still won 3 of their last 5 games and at least gave Marquette a pretty good game.

Looking Forward: Butler plays Providence (2/26, 7:00) for the first time this season before traveling to the Main Line to take on Villanova (3/2, 2:00). Right now Butler’s best road win is at Georgetown, a win at struggling Villanova would certainly help their resume which sits squarely on the bubble at the moment.

5. Xavier:

15-13 (7-8)
Previous: 8 (+3)

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

Week Recap: This week Xavier extended a 2 game winning streak into a 4 game winning streak against two of the better teams in the conference. Naji Marshall led the way versus Seton Hall with a career high 28 points. His recent play has been a huge part of Xavier’s late season turnaround. Over Xavier’s last 5 games, Marshall is averaging 20.8 PPG (47.0% FG, 41.0% 3FG), 6.2 RPG and 4.4 APG. It has taken some time for the second year Marshall to get going and step into more of a leadership role, but he’s picked it up of late and been a huge part of this team’s late season run. Tyrique Jones also added a 18-15 double-double in the win. In game two of the week Xavier beat Villanova for just the second time since the Musketeers joined the Big East. The X-men held the Cats to just 54 points in this one and held them scoreless for an eight minute stretch of the second half. Marshall and Paul Scruggs led the way on offense with 17 points and 14 points respectively.

Ranking Explained: Xavier’s 4 game winning streak has them shooting up the rankings this week. In fact, Xavier is the only Big East team outside of Marquette or Villanova to put together a winning streak of 4 or more games in conference this season.

Looking Forward: Xavier goes to St. John’s (2/28, 6:30) in their first matchup with the Johnnies this season before playing at Butler (3/5, 6:00). Xavier will put their recent success to the test with a tough end to the season as they play two games versus St. John’s and travel to Hinkle as they gear up for the Big East Tournament. It should be interesting to see how small ball St. John’s combats Xavier big front line.

6. Georgetown:

16-11 (6-8)
Previous: 6 (EVEN)

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

Week Recap: Georgetown started the week by getting a huge home win versus Villanova. The win marks Georgetown’s first win over a ranked opponent under coach Patrick Ewing. Jessie Govan went for 21 points and 11 rebounds after being held scoreless in these team’s last meeting. Mac McClung also added 21 points on a hot 4-8 shooting night from 3 and his freshman backcourt mate James Akinjo had 10 points and 9 assists. In their last meeting, the Hoyas hung around with Nova for much of the game before seeing the game slip away. This time around Georgetown took a 10 point lead into the half and withstood an early second half Nova push and held on to win by double digits. The Hoyas shot over 50% from the field, shot nearly 40% from 3 and assisted on 23 of 29 made baskets. Unfortunately for Georgetown they could not build on their win and they lost game two of the week at Creighton. No starters were in double digits, but the bench duo of Jahvon Blair and Greg Malinowski prevented a Blue Jay blowout. Blair and Malinowski combined for 28 points on 7-14 from 3-point range off the bench.

Ranking Explained: The Nova win was a big one for Georgetown and put the Hoyas in the discussion for an at large bid, but the loss to Creighton sets them back a bit, even if it was on the road. They’ll hold at six in the rankings here.

Looking Forward: Georgetown has two home games this week, first versus DePaul (2/27, 7:00) and then Seton Hall (3/2, 6:30). They have been a bit shaky at home in conference this year going 3-4, equal to their conference road record.

7. Seton Hall:

16-11 (7-8)
Previous: 4 (-3)

Since Last Week, 0-2: L, vs. Xavier | L, @ St. John’s

Week Recap: Seton Hall broke a 4 game losing streak by winning 4 of 5 games. Now that stretch is over and it’s been replaced by a 2 game losing streak. Seton Hall fell behind early to Xavier and went into the half down 8. Then they caught back up and cut the Xavier lead to 2 with 12 minutes to go before immediately falling behind again by 16 points with just 6 minutes to play. A late rally lead to a 1 point loss. These long stretches of ineffectiveness have have really hurt this team and it seems they are always having to fight to recover from large deficits. The lone bright spot in this game was the play of Myles Cale who scored 21 points on 9-16 shooting. He made it back-to-back 20 point games for the first time in his career after he put up 20 at Creighton last week. Seton Hall’s inconsistency was on display again in the latter half of the week in their loss at St. John’s. They opened the game by falling behind by 23 in just the first 9 minutes. The play of Shavar Reynolds and Romaro Gill off the bench managed to keep this one within striking distance at the half. Their slow start was surprising considering the circumstances and hype around the game. It was a rematch game played in front of a sellout crowd at the Garden between two local teams that are both nationally relevant for the first time in over a decade. Their flat, lifeless start was bewildering. Eventually they did come around and made it somewhat close behind a 50 point second half. Myles Powell lead the charge in the second, something he’s done many times this year. He had 26 points on the game after scoring just 4 in the first half. Powell and point guard Quincy McKnight combined to turn the ball over 13 times. Despite this backcourt’s heroics throughout the year, their abundant turnovers have been a problem for this team.

Ranking Explained: Just when it looked like Seton Hall was getting back on track, they drop two games this week behind some horrific stretches of play. This team is still figuring out how to play a complete game. They fall to seven in this week’s rankings.

Looking Forward: Seton Hall plays just one game this week at Georgetown (3/2, 6:30). With games versus Marquette and Villanova looming, this Georgetown game seems like a must win for Seton Hall’s tournament chances.

8. Creighton:

15-13 (6-9)
Previous: 10 (+2)

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

Week Recap: Creighton ended a 4 game losing streak with a 2-0 week. It started with a nice road win at DePaul in game 1. The Blue Jays spread out the offensive attack and had five different guys score in double figures. Senior transfer Connor Cashaw scored his Creighton season high with 10 points on 5-5 shooting. Creighton later took down Georgetown by double digits behind a 22 point, 10 rebound performance from Martin Krampelj. Kaleb Joseph added a career high 16 points off the bench.

Ranking Explained: It seems as if the Blue Jays’ health issues, that spurned their four game losing streak, are mostly behind them. They still have work to do to get back in the tourney field, but getting healthy is always the first step. They’re out of the Big East basement this week.

Looking Forward: Creighton plays just once this week, at Marquette (3/3, 3:00). This game is a chance for revenge for Creighton after Marquette beat the Jays in a crazy overtime game earlier in the year.

9. Providence:

15-13 (5-10
Previous: 9 (EVEN)

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

Week Recap: Providence started the week by completing a regular season sweep of St. John’s. Nate Watson gave the Johnnies problems inside once again as he went for 21 points on 8-12 shooting and 9 rebounds. Alpha Diallo added 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Friars went to a smaller lineup playing without a third forward next to Watson and Diallo. Isaiah Jackson and Maliek White each contributed 11 points off the bench and combined to shoot 5-10 from 3. Jackson also added 9 rebounds and 5 assists, while White recorded 4 steals. In game 2 of the week Providence fell to Marquette. They failed to take advantage of a slow Marquette start and early Markus Howard injury and scored just 20 points in the first half. Diallo had 19 and A.J. Reeves scored 13, the most he has had since returning from his foot injury. Ed Cooley once again went with the three guard lineup, except this time Maliek White got the start over Makai Ashton-Langford. The Friars have had a tough time this year finding a fifth starter to go with Diallo, Watson, Reeves and Duke.

Ranking Explained: A 1-1 week versus St. John’s and Marquette is a success for this team. They’ll hold at 9 this week.

Looking Forward: Providence goes to Butler (2/26, 7:00) in their first game of the season versus the Bulldogs this year.

10. DePaul:

13-12 (5-9)
Previous: 7 (-3)

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

Week Recap: After a 3-3 start to conference play, DePaul has now lost 6 of their last 8 games. This week their losing streak went to 3 games after falling at home to Creighton. Max Strus has had his best two game stretch of conference play. He followed up a 23 point game at Butler with a 18 point game versus Creighton. Over these two games, Strus has shot 14-31 from the field and 7-17 from 3, a clear improvement from his last 7 games where he shot just 30.2% from the field and 24.4% from 3. Unfortunately for DePaul, Paul Reed has struggled over these last 2, he scored 9 points versus Butler and just 2 points in 19 minutes versus Creighton. Getting these two to play well together could be the key for this DePaul team. Despite the loss, freshman guard Flynn Cameron scored a career high 11 points on 3-3 shooting from 3-point range.

Ranking Explained: No matter where DePaul finishes in the Big East standings, this season was one of the best for the Blue Demons in recent history. Unfortunately, they are trending back toward the bottom of the conference.

Looking Forward: DePaul plays Georgetown (2/27, 7:00) for the first time this season before welcoming St. John’s (3/3, 12:00) to Wintrust Arena. The Blue Demons beat St. John’s playing without Shamorie Ponds earlier in the year at Carnesecca Arena so they’ll go for a regular season sweep.

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