Big East Basketball Power Rankings (1-11-11)

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Pittsburgh cheerleader

There are three different sections to the Big East through two weeks of conference play: The top tier, potential NCAA Tournament teams, and the bottom five.  Pitt, Syracuse, and Villanova have earned the title of the teams to beat but the next eight are battling for their tourney lives already… and it is only the second week of January.  Here are my updated Big East basketball power rankings.

By: David Kay

1. Pitt: 15-1 (3-0)
Not only has Gary McGhee worked himself from a clueless big guy to a very valuable part of one of the best team’s in the nation, but he could also cartoon-style smash me into an accordion by pounding the top of my head with his fist.

Up Next: at Georgetown (Wed), vs. Seton Hall (Sat), vs. Syracuse (Mon)

2. Syracuse: 16-0 (3-0)

I really need to stop procrastinating and buy a Syracuse hat.  A navy blue one with the orange ‘S’ since I am not a huge fan of orange.  On an actual informative note, when was the last time Syracuse and St. John’s met and both teams were actually really good?  It is nice for the Big East and New York to have that rivalry return this week.

Up Next: at St. John’s (Wed), vs. Cincinnati (Sat), at Pitt (Mon)

3. Villanova: 14-1 (3-0)

I keep waiting for Nova to slip up and all they do is keep winning games including handing Cincy their first loss of the season.  The Wildcats will step out of conference this week as they host Maryland who nearly knocked off Duke on Sunday.

Up Next: vs. Louisville (Wed), vs. Maryland (Sat)

4. Notre Dame: 14-3 (3-2)
I am impressed that even without versatile big man Carlton Scott, the Irish were able to beat UConn and St. John’s in the past week.  Getting beat by 22 against Marquette was a different story as the Golden Eagles locked down the Irish defensively.

Up Next: St. John’s (Sun)

5. UConn: 12-2 (1-2)
Their conference mark is a bit misleading since they have lost on the road at Pitt and Notre Dame.  They earn extra brownie points for picking up a tough overtime, non-conference win at Texas on Saturday though.  If they can get steady contributions all season long from players not named “Kemba” like they did against the ‘Horns, it will be a huge boost.

Up Next: vs. Rutgers (Tues), at DePaul (Sat)

6. Louisville: 13-2 (2-0)
I am still not drinking the Kool-Aid quite yet.  Give Rick Pitino and company credit for continuing to beat teams they should beat without injured forward Rakeem Buckles and Jared Swopshire, but I want to see how they fare in this stretch before I am ready to push them any higher in the rankings.

Up Next: at Villanova (Wed), vs. Marquette (Sat)

7. Marquette: 13-5 (3-1)
I would like to see Marquette play like they did Monday night against Notre Dame EVERY SINGLE GAME.  Their defense was suffocating and took Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis right out of the game.  Offensively, they shared the ball like they always do but got great looks from three and a big boost inside from Chris Otule.  By the way, the only person who loves Chris more than Mrs. Otule is Jay Bilas who was sweating Otule’s work ethic and ability to establish position on the block

Up Next: at Louisville (Sat)

Dwight Hardy St. John's

8. St. John’s: 10-4 (3-1)
Unless Dwight Hardy is breaking down a defender, I feel like the Johnnies are not a great half-court offensive team.  They need to get out and run to be at their best especially since they are shooting a less than stellar 30.8% from three.

Up Next: vs. Syracuse (Wed), vs. Notre Dame (Sat)

9. Cincinnati: 15-1 (2-1)
The Bearcats got it done defensively against city rival Xavier but then suffered their first hiccup of the season in an 11-point loss at Nova.  After their home game Wednesday at South Florida, Cincy goes on a huge three-game road trip to Syracuse, Notre Dame, and St. John’s.

Up Next: vs. South Florida (Wed), at Syracuse (Sat)

10. West Virginia: 10-4 (2-2)

You knew a Bob Huggins-coached team was not going to give in that easily.  After dropping their first two Big East games, the Mountaineers bounced back by squeaking out a win at DePaul and upsetting Georgetown on their home floor.  Their next four games are at home although two of them are randomly out of conference.

Up Next: vs. Providence (Thu), vs. Purdue (Sun)

11. Georgetown: 12-4 (1-3)
In the Hoyas three conference losses, Chris Wright is 7-31 FG, 2-19 3-PT FG, 12 assists, and 10 turnovers.  Clearly they are not the 11th best team in the Big East, but they need to start winning some games

Up Next: vs. Pitt (Wed), at Rutgers (Sat)

12. Seton Hall: 7-9 (1-3)
Jeremy Hazell was supposed to see a doctor Monday to find out whether or not he will be able to return to the Hall this season.  They sorely miss his outside shooting as they were 3-26 from three against the Cuse in a five-point loss.

Up Next: at DePaul (Wed), at Pitt (Sat)

13. Rutgers: 10-5 (1-2)
A win this early in Big East play is a monumental moment for the Scarlet Knights.  I will give new head coach Mike Rice credit because even though his team might be the least talented in the conference, his kids do incredibly hard for forty minutes.

Up Next: at UConn (Tue), vs. Georgetown (Sat)

14. Providence: 11-6 (0-4)
Explain to me how the Friars play Syracuse, St. John’s, and Pitt tough and lose by single digits but then get beat at Rutgers by 12?  If they do not win at USF Sunday, they might go winless in January.

Up Next: at West Virginia (Thu), at South Florida (Sun)

15. South Florida: 6-11 (0-4)
The losing skid has now reached six games.  Stan Heath will be the first Big East coach fired this off-season… if he even makes it that long.

Up Next: at Cincinnati (Wed), vs. Providence (Sun)

16. DePaul: 6-9 (0-3)

At least Oliver Purnell is taking steps for the future.  6-9 forward Donovan Kirk decided to transfer from Miami, FL to DePaul.  So um, yeah, they got that going for them.  Bold prediction: Blue Demons beat The Hall Wednesday.

Up Next: vs. Seton Hall (Wed), vs. UConn (Sat)

BIG EAST POWER RANKINGS ARCHIVE:
January 3, 2011
December 26, 2010

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 former contributor for The Washington Times Communities.  You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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  1. Depaul will get 2 or maybe even 3 conf wins this season….write it down

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