It seems if you are in the Big East, you are either streaking (Marquette, Notre Dame, Louisville, Pitt) or you are sliding (Cincinnati, UConn, West Virginia, Seton Hall.) All in all, it makes for a competitive conference with several teams still having plenty of work to do on their NCAA Tournament resume. Be sure to check back every Friday for my latest Big East Power Rankings.
1. Syracuse: 22-1 overall, 9-1 in Big East (Last Week Ranking: 1)
Isn’t it crazy how much Fab Melo means to ‘Cuse this season? If you would have told me that he’d be making this much of an impact as a sophomore, I’d call you more insane than a cast of MTV’s The Challenge. The Orange survived without the big fella the past two games and get him back from his academic suspension this weekend versus St. John’s.
Up Next: at St. John’s (Sat), vs. Georgetown (Wed)
2. Marquette: 19-4, 8-2 (LWR: 3)
Winners of seven straight, the Golden Eagles have taken a firm hold on the number two spot in the Big East. There is some concern with center Davante Gardner missing MU’s last game due to a knee injury. With Chris Otule already lost for the season, Marquette is very thin and under-sized in their frontcourt and need Gardner back sooner than later if they are going to remain in the number two spot.
Up Next: at Notre Dame (Sat), at DePaul (Mon)
3. Georgetown: 17-4, 7-3 (LWR: 2)
The loss to Pitt isn’t at bad as it seems anymore since the Panthers are starting to find their groove. The Hoyas bounced back nicely with an impressive showing against slumping UConn. Still, I am not convinced JT3’s team can do serious damage in March. I’m not predicting their third straight one-and-done, but I don’t see this team making a deep run either.
Up Next: vs. South Florida (Sat), at Syracuse (Wed)
4. Notre Dame: 14-8, 6-3 (LWR: 7)
The Fighting Irish are really the fourth best team in the Big East? Right now, yes. Mike Brey has once again done a terrific coaching job, but here’s a serious question… does Notre Dame even practice running offense with a full shot clock? I bet Brey just skips the first twenty seconds and puts 15 on the shot clock and says, “Go!” That burn offense is Big Ten-brutal to watch.
Up Next: vs. Marquette (Sat), at West Virginia (Wed)
5. Louisville: 17-5, 5-4 (LWR: 8)
The Cards early conference funk is over as they have bounced back with three straight wins. Ready for a fun fact? (I know you are.) L-Ville is 4-0 in Big East play when Gorgui Dieng records a double-double, 1-4 when he doesn’t. The only the game they won, he was one rebound shy of a double-double. In other words, when Dieng is active on the glass and stays out of foul trouble, Rick Pitino’s squad is a much, much better team.
Up Next: vs. Rutgers (Sat), vs. UConn (Mon)
6. West Virginia: 15-8, 5-5 (LWR: 5)
Rough week for the Mountaineers… They suffer a screw job ending against Syracuse on a blatantly missed goaltending call that would have sent the game in overtime. Less than sixty hours later, West Virginia was upset by a suddenly surging Pitt team in Morgantown. Now Bob Huggins team is five-hundred in conference play, has eight total losses, and is just 1-5 on the road.
Up Next: at Providence (Sun), vs. Notre Dame (Wed)
7. Cincinnati: 15-7, 5-4 (LWR: 4)
Add the Bearcats to the list of “upper-echelon” Big East teams currently in a funk. Cincy has dropped three straight, most recently losing at Rutgers. You figure all Cincinnati needs to do is finish above five-hundred in conference to get into the tourney. However, with an RPI of 101 and a strength of schedule around 126, this team’s margin of error is rather slim.
Up Next: vs. DePaul (Sat), at St. John’s (Wed)
8. South Florida: 13-9, 6-3 (LWR: 10)
Yes, I’m still dogging on the Bulls. Consider this though; USF doesn’t have a win against a Big East team with a winning conference record.
Up Next: at Georgetown (Sat), vs. Pittsburgh (Wed)
9. UConn: 14-7, 4-5 (LWR: 6)
It is kind of like Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me… The Huskies have lost their mojo. Not just their mojo, but this team also lacks any leadership, heart, or toughness. They were held to a season-low 44 points in a loss to Georgetown; their fourth straight defeat. UConn is far too talented to be playing so poorly but as Jim Calhoun proved last year, there is still plenty of time to turn things around.
Up Next: vs. Seton Hall (Sat), at Louisville (Mon)
10. Pittsburgh: 14-9, 3-7 (LWR: 15)
Theeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyy’re baaaaaaaaaaack. The Tray Woodall effect has been obvious for the Panthers. Pitt was 6-1 prior to Woodall’s injury and now 3-1 since he has returned to the line-up including three straight wins. Their remaining schedule is somewhat soft and I wouldn’t be shocked if they ended finishing .500 in conference. Would that be enough to earn them a spot in the tourney?
Up Next: vs. Villanova (Sun), at South Florida (Wed)
11. Seton Hall: 15-7, 4-6 (LWR: 9)
Five straight losses and the Pirates are suddenly fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives. They will need to finish at least five-hundred in conference to have any hopes of dancing in March since their “signature” non-conference win came at Dayton.
Up Next: at UConn (Sat), at Rutgers (Wed)
12. St. John’s 10-12, 4-6 (LWR: 13)
I know Moe Harkless has an off shooting night against DePaul (2-15) but he is totally league. I’m going to go ahead and say it; he is a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft if he declares. In fact, I have him going eighth overall in our latest 2012 NBA Mock Draft.
Up Next: vs. Syracuse (Sat), vs. Cincinnati (Wed)
13. Rutgers: 12-11, 4-6 (LWR: 11)
I would never, ever bet on a Rutgers game since this team has zero consistency. They lose at Georgetown by only two points, get beat at home to DePaul, knock off Cincy, and then lose at last place Providence.
Up Next: at Louisville (Sat), vs. Seton Hall (Wed)
14. Villanova: 10-12, 3-7 (LWR: 12)
‘Nova let an 18-point lead slip away against Marquette and are in jeopardy of missing out on a post-season tournament for the first time since 1998. Glass half-full: this team will have everybody coming back next season assuming Maalik Wayns stays for his senior season and nobody transfers.
Up Next: at Pitt (Sun), vs. Providence (Tues)
15. Providence: 13-10, 2-8 (LWR: 16)
LaDontae Henton is one of the most underrated, least-talked-about freshmen in the country. He is logging major minutes for the Friars having played 238 of a possible 240 minutes in Providence’s last six games. The lefty exploded for 33 points in his team’s three-point loss to South Florida and is averaging almost nine rebounds per game. Plus, dude rocks a headband. Who doesn’t love a dude rocking a headband? Ed Cooley also picked up a transfer in Arizona big man Sidiki Johnson who should add even more depth to what should be a much improved team next season.
Up Next: vs. West Virginia (Sun), at Villanova (Tues)
16. DePaul: 11-10, 2-7 (LWR: 14)
In the words of Ma$e, “Welcome Back… welcome back… welllllllllcome baaaaaaaack…” (to the cellar of the Big East Power Rankings.)
Up Next: at Cincinnati (Sat), vs. Marquette (Mon)
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.