It was a bizarre Thursday night in the Big East as Pitt was upset at DePaul while Villanova got smoked by 17 at home against South Florida. With the Panthers and Wildcats reeling to start conference play, there is some shake-up in our latest Big East Basketball Power Rankings.
1. Syracuse: 16-0 overall, 3-0 in Big East (Last Week Ranking: 1)
As expected, ‘Cuse took care of business in the past week by beating DePaul and Providence. Depth and balance remains their strength with at least seven players averaging seven points per game. They will be looking for revenge Saturday against a Marquette team that knocked them out of the NCAA Tournament last season.
2. Georgetown: 13-1, 3-0 (LWR: 3)
The Hoyas erased a 17-point second half deficit to beat Marquette Wednesday night and extend their win streak to 11 games. They shot 63% in the win but uncharacteristically turned the ball over 17 times. Senior Jason Clark really stepped up down the stretch of that game and the Hoyas will need more of that as they get deeper into conference play.
Up Next: at West Virginia (Sat), vs. Cincinnati (Mon)
3. UConn: 12-2, 2-1 (LWR: 2)
Their loss to Seton Hall earlier this week is not as bad as it looks since the Pirates appear to be for real this season. Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi combined for just six points and seven boards in the defeat which is unacceptable for two guys who should be able to cause nightmares for opponents due to their size and strength.
Up Next: at Rutgers (Sat), vs. West Virginia (Mon)
4. Louisville: 12-2, 1-1 (LWR: 4)
The Cardinals snapped their brief two game skid by winning at St. John’s Wednesday night. Since I usually hate on L-Ville, allow me to say two positive things; Russell Smith’s play has been a huge sparkplug and I have really been impressed by Giorgi Dieng’s development on the inside and his ability to protect the rim better than any other big man in the conference.
Up Next: vs. Notre Dame (Sat), at Providence (Tue)
5. Marquette: 12-3, 1-1 (LWR: 5)
It is amazing how a team can build a 17-point lead and then absolutely piss it away. It would have been a huge road win at Georgetown but MU fizzled down the stretch; giving up too many easy baskets on the defensive end and having some bad possessions down the stretch offensively. After they visit the Carrier Dome on Saturday, the Golden Eagles return home for a three game stretch which is good since they will almost certainly be 1-2. (Reverse jinx?)
Up Next: at Syracuse (Sat), vs. St. John’s (Wed)
6. Seton Hall: 13-2, 2-1 (LWR: 9)
When the Pirates were blown out by Syracuse in their conference I opener, I figured reality had set in for the Hall. However, they knocked off West Virginia and UConn in back-to-back impressive outings to show that they are a legit tourney contender. Kevin Willard can’t ask for much more from seniors Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore who have been awesome this season. Fuquan Edwin is also having a breakout sophomore campaign as he has improved as an all-around scorer and leads the nation in steals.
Up Next: vs. Providence (Sat), vs. DePaul (Tues)
7. West Virginia: 11-4, 2-1 (LWR: 6)
The Mountaineers looked like two different teams on their New Jersey road swing; getting blown out at Seton Hall and then bouncing back with a 21-point win at Rutgers. The key versus West Virginia is slowing down their senior duo of Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant which forces their young, complimentary players to have to beat you. They have a tough and quick turnaround this weekend.
Up Next: vs. Georgetown (Sat), at UConn (Mon)
8. Cincinnati: 11-3, 2-0 (LWR: 8)
You have to give credit to Mick Cronin; unlike Xavier who has gone in a downward spiral since the Queen City Brawl, Cincy has now won seven straight. Things could have easily gone in the opposite direction but Cronin kept this team on the right path and it is paying dividends. The six game suspensions for Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj has ended giving the Bearcats needed size and strength inside.
Up Next: vs. St. John’s (Sat), at Georgetown (Mon)
9. Notre Dame: 9-6, 1-1 (LWR: 10)
With their win against Pitt, the Irish ran their home win-streak to 28 games. However, a loss at Cincy makes Notre Dame 0-6 in road or neutral site games this season. It’s pretty simple, if Mike Brey’s team cannot figure out how to win away from South Bend, they’ll be NIT bound.
Up Next: at Louisville (Sat), vs. South Florida (Tues)
10. Pittsburgh: 11-5, 0-3 (LWR: 7)
With their somewhat but not really stunning loss at DePaul, the Panthers have lost four in a row for the first time in the Jamie Dixon era. They play Rutgers this week but then travel to Marquette and Syracuse and host Louisville in their next three. That likely means a 1-6 start in the Big East and no chance of making the tourney unless they turn things around in a hurry. Still, I cannot find it in myself to rank them any lower than tenth.
Up Next: vs. Rutgers (Wed)
11. South Florida: 9-7, 2-1 (LWR: 16)
I guess I can’t joke about Stan Heath needing to get fired this week since USF won both their games. The road win at Villanova is especially important since it’s just their second road win since entering the Big East against a team not named DePaul, Rutgers, or Providence (aka: the fellow bottom feeders of recent years.)
Up Next: at Notre Dame (Tues)
12. DePaul: 10-4, 1-1 (LWR: 13)
It is funny (and sad) that the Blue Demons beat an unranked and skidding Pitt team and their fans rush the court, watching their team beat Big East opponents is as foreign to them as wearing underwear to the club is to Snooki.
Up Next: at Villanova (Sun), at Seton Hall (Tue)
Up Next: vs. DePaul (Sun), vs. Syracuse (Wed)
14. St. John’s 7-7, 1-2 (LWR: 14)
I am glad Steve Lavin is recovering from cancer but his illness and the uncertainty of his future has unfortunately taken a toll on his basketball program. 2012 shooting guard Darrick Wood decided to de-commit to St. John’s meaning the Storm have zero recruits in their 2012 class which is a concern since they only have seven scholarship players right now. They will be lucky to win five games this season due to that short roster.
Up Next: at Cincinnati (Sat), at Marquette (Wed)
15. Rutgers: 8-7, 0-2 (LWR: 11)
Any sort of momentum from their double-overtime upset of Florida has quickly been erased with a loss at South Florida and 21-point defeat at home against West Virginia. Kadeem Jack has returned to the line-up but apparently isn’t ready to make a major contribution yet as he has only played 13 minutes in three games.
Up Next: vs. UConn (Sat), at Pittsburgh (Wed)
16. Providence: 11-5, 0-3 (LWR: 15)
The glass half-full thought on the Friars 0-3 start in Big East play; at least they showed fight in losses at Georgetown and versus Syracuse. The glass half-empty thought; their schedule is not very friendly early on and I would not be surprised if they start off 0-9.
Up Next: vs. Seton Hall (Sat), vs. Louisville (Tues)
PAST BIG EAST POWER RANKINGS:
WEEK 1 (12/30/11)
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities. David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu. He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.