Big East Basketball Power Rankings: It’s March and We Still Know Nothing

(Photo: Charles Fox/philly.com)

Welcome to the eleventh 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
Don’t Count Anyone Out: 2/25/2019

1. Villanova
22-8 (13-4)
Previous: 2 (+1)

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

Week Recap: Many of the same problems that have plagued Villanova recently reared their ugly head once again versus Marquette. The difference for the Cats this time was Jermaine Samuels. Samuels had made himself a total non-threat on offense throughout the season and became a hindrance on the Nova offense by not only refusing to even look at the rim when he had the ball, but also by looking totally lost on that end of the floor. By not only being willing to shoot when he was open, but also by putting the ball on the floor when he had space to drive, Samuels changed the entire game for the Cats and carried their otherwise listless offense with a career high 29 points on the way to a huge win. In game two of the week, Villanova got it’s offensive rhythm back behind senior captain Phil Booth. Booth scored 28 points on 10-15 shooting from the field and 4-7 shooting from 3. During his past 8 game slump, he had been shooting just 34.6% from the field and 20.0% from 3. It was a 13 points in 4 minute stretch for Booth late in the first half that sparked the rest of the offense around him. Collin Gillespie who had made just 7 of his previous 37 3-point attempts rattled off two 3’s in a three possession stretch and Villanova took the momentum from Booth’s late run into the second half where they scored 42 points, their best scoring half since a 46 point second half versus Providence 5 games earlier.

Ranking Explained: Villanova took out Marquette at home and then their resurgent offense battered Butler at home this past week. Pair that with an 0-2 Marquette week and Nova is back on top of the rankings.

Looking Forward: Villanova wraps up the regular season by taking a trip to Jersey to take on Seton Hall (3/9, 12:00). Phil Booth needs to build off the Butler game and keep his offense up. When he’s on, this team can play with any in the nation.

2. Marquette:
23-6 (12-4)
Previous: 1 (-1)

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

Week Recap: Marquette has its first losing streak of the year after losing at Villanova and losing at home against Creighton. While Marquette shot the ball fairly well, they squandered too many possessions with unforced turnovers. They turned the ball over 18 times and also surrendered 15 offensive rebounds in the loss. 10 additional shot attempts for Villanova and an inexplicable 29 point day from Jermaine Samuels sunk the Golden Eagles, who scored just 61 in the loss. Marquette followed their 61 point, 18 turnover game at Villanova with a 60 point, 22 turnover day back home versus Creighton. Markus Howard posted 33 points, but no other Golden Eagle scored in double figures. After combining to average 26.4 PPG in Marquette’s first 21 games, the Hauser brothers are scoring just 18.6 PPG combined over their last 8 games.

Ranking Explained: An 0-2 week that featured 40 Marquette turnovers drops the Golden Eagles a spot in the rankings.

Looking Forward: Marquette goes to Seton Hall (3/6, 6:30) before welcoming Georgetown (3/9, 3:30) to Milwaukee.

3. Xavier:
16-13 (8-8)
Previous: 5 (+2)

Since Last Week, 1-0: W, @ St. John’s

Week Recap: Xavier pushed the winning streak to 5 games this week behind a career high 31 points from Naji Marshall. The sophomore Marshall is now averaging 22.5 PPG on 46.1% shooting from the field and 41.2% shooting from 3 over Xavier’s last 6 games. Tyrique Jones also added a 11 point, 10 rebound double-double.

Ranking Explained: Xavier has now won 5 games in a row, which is the 3rd longest conference winning streak from any Big East team this season (Villanova – 10, Marquette – 8).

Looking Forward: The Musketeers go to Butler (3/5, 6:00) and then welcome St. John’s (3/9, 5:00) to the Cintas Center in a game that could have major implications on the Big East regular season race.

4. Creighton:
16-13 (7-9)
Previous: 8 (+4)

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

Week Recap: In the 3 games that Marcus Zegarowski missed with a broken hand, Creighton went 0-3 and averaged under 60 PPG. Since he has returned, the Jays are 3-1 and averaging a more Creighton-like 75.5 PPG. Ty-Shon Alexander has, rightfully so, received a lot of credit for Creighton’s surprise success this season, but Zegarowski’s contributions are just as important to this team’s play. Martin Krampelj led the way for the Jays in the win over Marquette with 19 points and Creighton held the Golden Eagles to their lowest single game scoring total of the year with just 60 points.

Ranking Explained: Creighton’s injury issues seem to be mostly behind them and they have turned their 4 game losing streak into a 3 game winning streak after handing Marquette just their second home loss of the entire season. Don’t sleep on the Blue Jays, this team is not out yet and they still have an at-large tournament bid in their reach.

Looking Forward: Creighton plays two home games this week, first versus Providence (3/6, 8:00) and then DePaul (3/9, 8:00).

5. Georgetown:
18-11 (8-8)
Previous: 6 (+1)

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

Week Recap: Georgetown went 2-0 this week and they have now won three of four games as we approach the conclusion of the regular season. They beat DePaul to kick off the week behind 26 points from Jessie Govan on 10-18 shooting. Govan followed up his impressive performance versus DePaul with a 21 point game in the win over Seton Hall. After an awful start to game, the senior turned it around late and scored 11 points in double overtime to clinch the Hoya win. James Akinjo added 16 and Josh LeBlanc had a monster double-double with 14 points and a career high 17 rebounds.

Ranking Explained: Back-to-back wins has the Hoyas moving up a spot in the rankings. They also have won 3 of their last 4 and 6 of their last 10 after a 2-4 start to Big East play.

Looking Forward: Georgetown ends the season on the road. They first travel to DePaul (3/6, 8:30) and then Marquette (3/9, 3:30).

6. St. John’s:
20-10 (8-9)
Previous: 3 (-3)

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

Week Recap: The Johnnies fell behind by double digits early at home versus Xavier, but rallied late in the second half to cut the lead to 3. Unfortunately, a couple of questionable foul calls versus the Red Storm led to a shocking technical foul call on Chris Mullin and also on Shamorie Ponds. St. John’s lost their composure after the commotion and Xavier made enough shots to pull away and clinch a 11 point victory at Carnesecca Arena as St. John’s watched another winnable game slip away. L.J. Figueroa led the way in the loss with 23 points on 10-16 shooting. In game two, Max Strus outdueled Ponds and outscored him 43 to 29 on DePaul’s senior day. The loss to the Blue Demons leaves the Johnnies with an 0-2 record this season versus DePaul and St. John’s is now just 1-5 versus the three teams tied for last in the Big East.

Ranking Explained: After a 4 game stretch that saw St. John’s win 3 games, including wins at Marquette and home versus Villanova, the Johnnies have dropped 3 of 4 to mostly inferior opponents. It’s been the same story all year.

Looking Forward: The Johnnies will try to finish the Big East regular season at .500 when they go to Xavier (3/9, 5:00).

7. Providence:
16-13 (6-10)
Previous: 9 (+2)

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

Week Recap: Providence pulled out an overtime victory at Butler in their only game this week. They led by 7 with under two minutes to play, but a late Butler run forced overtime. However, the Friars held on in the extra period. Nate Watson led the way with 21 points on 8-10 shooting as he continued his inside feast of opposing Big East frontcourts. He’s scored in double figures in 6 straight games and is averaging 17.3 PPG over this stretch. Isaiah Jackson played one of his best games of the season with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks and a couple of big shots. He’s had a few nice games recently in what’s been a fairly underwhelming senior season.

Ranking Explained: After a 3-7 start to Big East play, The Friars have now went 3-3 over their last 6. They’re peaking at the right time as many Ed Cooley teams do. However, we’ll find out if that peak is high enough to make a difference in the Big East.

Looking Forward: Providence goes to Creighton (3/6, 8:00) and then plays Butler (3/9, 12:00) at home.

8. DePaul:
14-13 (6-10)
Previous: 10 (+2)

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

Week Recap: Despite an efficient 25 points from Max Strus and a 16 point, 12 rebound game from Paul Reed, DePaul dropped their first game of the week to Georgetown. However, they followed the loss up with a senior day win over St. John’s to complete the season sweep of the Johnnies. Max Strus once again led the way with a career high 43 points. Femi Olujobi added a 23 point, 10 rebound double-double as well. These two seniors accounted for 66 of DePaul’s 92 points. DePaul had been averaging just 71 PPG over their last 9 games before their 92 point outburst. Strus is now averaging 27.3 PPG on 62.3% shooting from the field and 46.9% shooting from 3 over DePaul’s last four games after struggling mightily to score throughout conference play. He seems to be getting right at the perfect time for the Blue Demons.

Ranking Explained: DePaul’s senior day win over St. John’s broke a 4 game losing streak and a ended a 2-7 skid. The win over the Johnnies, plus Max Strus’s recent hot shooting, gives some hope that this team can return to their success they experienced earlier in conference play where they started 3-3.

Looking Forward: DePaul needs to go 1-1 to finish the season above .500 for the first time since 2007. They welcome Georgetown (3/6, 8:30) to Wintrust Arena and then take a trip to Omaha to take on Creighton (3/9, 8:00).

9. Seton Hall:
16-12 (7-9)
Previous: 7 (-2)

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

Week Recap: Seton Hall’s losing streak is now at 3 games and they are struggling at the wrong time. Myles Powell was on a mission right from the tip to get a win in this one and he almost pulled it off, scoring nearly half of the Hall’s total points with 35 on 14-27 shooting. Sandro Mamukelashvili had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Michael Nzei made some clutch plays late and Jared Rhoden had career highs with 9 points and 9 rebounds, but it was not enough to outlast Georgetown in double overtime. The biggest issue for the Hall at this point is point guard play. Quincy McKnight has been too inconsistent over the past couple months and Anthony Nelson can’t seem to get off the bench. Shavar Reynolds got the start next to Powell versus Georgetown, and while he does some things well, he is simply not a starting caliber player. The same goes for Romaro Gill who also got a start. Gill makes too many mistakes to make up for the rim protection he brings. While Taurean Thompson had some moments earlier in the season, he has not found any type of rhythm late for the Pirates. Getting Myles Cale going again will be huge for Kevin Willard’s team down the stretch. After a run of three games where Cale averaged 19.3 PPG taking nearly 14 shots per game, he has scored just 10 points on 13 shots in his last 2 games combined. Cale may not be ready for the full-time number two role, but this team needs him to be aggressive night in and night out.

Ranking Explained: Seton Hall answered an encouraging 3 game winning streak with a debilitating 3 game losing streak. We’ve seen what this team can be when they both, play a complete game and get production from guys other than Myles Powell, but they have been incapable of doing either recently. Right now, this team is playing itself out of the NCAA Tournament, but there’s still time to turn it around.

Looking Forward: The Pirates saved two of their most challenging games for last. They play both Marquette (3/6, 6:30) and Villanova (3/9, 12:00) at home this week to wrap up the regular season. Winning one of these last two would be great for the Pirates heading into the Big East Tournament.

10. Butler:
15-14 (6-10)
Previous: 4 (-6)

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

Week Recap: Despite a late game, overtime forcing run, Butler did not have enough to bring down Providence at Hinkle. Kamar Baldwin scored 27, Jordan Tucker had 15 and Nate Fowler posted 10 in the loss. The Bulldogs followed the loss up with a 54 point showing at Villanova. Paul Jorgensen led the way with 11 points. When it was time to make a move to get into the NCAA Tournament, Butler did the exact opposite and did not even show up this week and played their way off the bubble.

Ranking Explained: Butler lost a very winnable home game against Providence and followed it up by getting run over by Villanova in Philly. At a time when Butler needed to make a push for the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs, like the Pirates, have not showed up.

Looking Forward: Butler plays Xavier (3/5, 6:00) at Hinkle before travelling to Providence (3/9, 12:00).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s