Big East Basketball Power Rankings (1/18/11)


uconn huskies cheerleader

In my most recent bracketology, 11 Big East teams made the NCAA Tournament projections.  It is not a crazy thought right now especially since nine teams are ranked in the AP Top 25.  Of course, once the season plays out and teams start to beat up on each other, a couple of those teams will struggle and take themselves out of the conversation like happens every year.  Here are my updated power rankings with Pitt holding onto the top spot after winning the battle of unbeatens last night versus Syracuse.

By: David Kay

1. Pitt: 18-1, 6-0 (Last Week Ranking: 1)

I have said it before and I will say it again; if I am picking a coach to lead an all-star team of college players and cannot pick anybody with the last of Krzyzewski, Jamie Dixon is my guy.  Pitt has no superstars but they play as unselfishly as any team in the nation, make the most of every offensive possession, and get after it on both ends.  Plus, they just do not lose at the Zoo.

Up Next: at DePaul (Sat), vs. Notre Dame (Mon)

2. Syracuse: 18-1, 5-1 (LWR: 2)
They went into Pitt short-handed without their leading scorer Kris Joseph, got into a 19-0 hole, but still battled back to make it a ballgame.  I think Jim Boeheim’s boys will be okay.  By the way, a breakout game Monday night for ‘Cuse freshman C.J. Fair who I have been high on since I first saw the Orange play and think is a young Corey Brewer.

Up Next: vs. Villanova (Sat)

3. UConn: 15-2, 4-2 (LWR: 5)
TSB founder Paul M. Banks often refers to Penn State as the Talor Battles, I think it might be time to change the Huskies name to the UConn Kemba Walkers.  Despite improved play from Alex Oriakhi and Jeremy Lamb, and steady contributions from Shabazz Napier (who is a young point guard that I really like), Walker has carried this team since the Maui Invite.

Up Next: vs. Tennessee (Sat)

4. Villanova: 16-2, 4-1 (LWR: 3)
They needed a late 19-0 run to knock off Maryland this weekend and then suffered a last second loss to UConn.  Jay Wright’s team is much improved on the defensive end and glass this season because their guard play is not what it has been the past few years, and it could take a hit with Dominic Cheek now banged up.

Up Next: at Syracuse (Sat)

Rick Pitino5. Louisville: 14-3, 3-1 (LWR: 6)
They rose from the dead against Marquette, ending the game on a 24-5 run to escape with a one-point win partly because Preston Knowles was unconscious from three, partly because their full-court pressure forced some turnovers, and partly because the Golden Eagles had worse clock management at the end of the game than Donovan McNabb.  I still do not think this team is that good but you have to give them credit for not giving up.

Up Next: vs. St. John’s (Wed), at Providence (Sat)

6. West Virginia: 12-4, 3-2 (LWR: 10)
They stepped out of conference and picked up an impressive win against Purdue.  After dropping their first two conference games, the Mountaineers are starting to look like the Mountaineers of years past, showing more toughness and effort.  Side note: Hey WVU fans, act like you’ve been there before.  Rushing the court because you beat 8th ranked Purdue?  Your team went to the Final Four last year and was 11-4 entering the game.  That’s embarrassing for your program, players, and Bob Huggins.

Up Next: vs. Marshall (Wed), vs. South Florida (Sun)

7. Marquette: 12-6, 3-2 (LWR: 7)
Coming off their 22-point home win against Notre Dame, it appeared as if the Golden Eagles were rolling, leading at Louisville by 18 with 5:44 to play.  Instead, MU strung together an epic choke job that even Frank Reich would have been shocked by and ended up losing by one.  For the record, I called the Cards slip screen as their final play.  You can ask Paul M. Banks.  He got the unfortunate honor of witnessing Marquette’s meltdown with me.

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

8. St. John’s: 11-5, 4-2 (LWR: 8)
Though a rejuvenated program, we learned that the Johnnies are not near ready to de-throne Syracuse as the kings of New York.  Give them credit for bouncing back in a big way by thumping Notre Dame due to their aggressiveness on the defensive end.

Up Next: at Louisville (Wed), vs. Cincinnati (Sat)

9. Notre Dame: 14-4, 3-3 (LWR: 4)
Wow.  What has happened to the Irish?  They followed up their 22-point loss at Marquette by losing at St. John’s 72-54.  When they are not shooting the ball well from three, they are very beatable especially when going against a more athletic team that really gets after it on the defensive end.

Up Next: vs. Cincinnati (Wed), vs. Marquette (Sat), at Pitt (Mon)

yancy gates cincy

10. Cincinnati: 16-2, 3-2 (LWR: 9)
To quote Soul II Soul, it might be time for Cincy to head “back to life, back to reality.”  They are coming off a 15-point loss at Syracuse and head back on the road for a pair of tough games this week.  By the way, is there a bigger enigma in the conference than Yancy Gates?   He is a beast one game and then completely useless then completely useless the next one.

Up Next: at Notre Dame (Wed), at St. John’s (Sat)

11. Georgetown: 13-5, 2-4 (LWR: 11)
G-Town ended their three-game skid with a road win at Rutgers as their three-headed backcourt monster all played well for the first time in a few weeks.  After Tuesday’s game at the Hall, the Hoyas have a week off before their next game and I imagine JT3 will make the most of his practice time.

Up Next: at Seton Hall (Tue)

12. Seton Hall: 8-10, 2-4 (LWR: 12)

It is good to see Jeremy Hazell back on the floor for the Pirates despite nearly getting killed a few weeks ago after a bullet grazed him during a burglary.  He gives the Hall a sorely needed outside threat and in his first two games back, has cut down on his massive chucker-ness.

Up Next: vs. Georgetown (Tue), vs. Rutgers (Sat)

13. Rutgers: 10-7, 1-4 (LWR: 13)

Give Mike Rice credit; despite having one of the least talented teams in the Big East, they play hard for all 40 minutes and really seem to buy into what their new coach is selling.  A six-point loss at UConn has to be considered a morale victory and they could very well pick up their second conference win this week against South Florida.

Up Next: vs. South Florida (Thu), at Seton Hall (Sat)

14. South Florida: 7-12, 1-5 (LWR: 15)
USF picked up their first Big East victory by beating Providence this weekend.  To their credit, they have been competitive for the most part in conference play despite shooting a paltry 29.7% from three.

Up Next: at Rutgers (Thu) vs. West Virginia (Sun)

15. Providence: 11-8, 0-6 (LWR: 14)
I regularly referred to them as Provience last season because there was just no D’ from this team.  While they have improved a bit, something has to give when you are averaging nearly 80 points per game but are winless in conference action.

Up Next: vs. Louisville (Sat)

16. DePaul: 6-11, 0-5 (LWR: 16)
Freshman forward Cleveland Melvin continues to be the lone bright spot for this Blue Demon team.  He had 21 points and 9 boards against Seton Hall, 25-12 versus UConn.  On the contrary, frosh guard Brandon Young has really struggled in conference play going 14-46 from the field.

Up Next: at Marquette (Tues), vs. Pitt (Sat)

January, 11, 2011
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 and former contributor for The Washington Times Communities.  You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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