by Dan Gardella
Last Week’s Rankings
- Seton Hall
- St. John’s
This Week’s Rankings
- Villanova (-)
- Xavier (+2)
- Providence (+4)
- Seton Hall (-2)
- Creighton (-2)
- Butler (-1)
- Marquette (-1)
- Georgetown (-)
- DePaul (-)
- St. Johns (-)
Another week of Big East action, another week of the unexpected. Even with only three nights of conference play this week, the storylines were endless.
Some were good such as Providence finding their momentum at the right time.
Unfortunately, some were bad as Creighton lost Martin Krampelj for the season with a torn ACL.
Looking at the updated Big East standings, Providence climbed to third in the conference after a 2-0 week and losses by Creighton and Seton Hall. The bigger story is that after a full month of conference play, spots one through six are separated by three games.
If you couldn’t tell, three games is not much breathing room in this conference.
Here is yet another week of Big East Risers and Tumblers.
Providence has picked up steam at the right time. The Friars have strung together wins against Xavier, DePaul, Butler, and Creighton to improve to 5-2 in conference play. Early on in the season, Providence was struck with the injury bug and failed to play together, losing very winnable games. Now winners of four straight, Ed Cooly’s crew is using their senior leadership to ride them to the top half of the league.
Of the four players averaging double figures, three of those players are in their final year of eligibility. Rodney Bullock and Kyron Cartwright have been the fuel to the Friars engine that has Providence getting some conference recognition.
The only issue in the Friars’ four game winning streak? Three of the four wins came at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center where they have been almost unbeatable. If Providence wants to remain in the top half of the standings, they will need to find an identity on the road that is as strong as the identity at home. They have a chance to pick up key road wins when they take on Villanova in Philadelphia and then Seton Hall in Newark.
It appeared that Xavier read my Risers and Tumblers column from a week ago. Last week, I said that the Musketeers needed to learn how to win on the road if they wanted to compete with the fellow contenders in the league. They responded by going into the Prudential Center and winning at Seton Hall for the first time in program history. The game was hard fought for Xavier, as they overcame a ten point second half deficit to win their third straight game.
The star without a doubt was J.P Macura. The senior guard scored a season-high 27 points, two of those points coming via a ferocious put-back dunk to propel them. Behind Macura, Trevon Bluiett scored 15, Kaiser Gates had 10 off the bench, and Quentin Goodin and Paul Scruggs each contributed with 6 points apiece. Obviously, you should not expect more breakout games like this from Macura, but the production from top to bottom of Chris Mack’s roster is what makes Xavier one of the most complete teams in the conference.
In their lone game this week, Xavier returns to Cincinnati to take on Marquette and the best backcourt in the league in Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard.
Seton Hall had the toughest week in the conference competition-wise. Going out to Nebraska to take on Creighton in CenturyLink Arena is never an easy game to play or win for that matter. After the loss, they headed back home to play Xavier in what seemed like a winnable game. The Pirates had taken the first six meetings between the teams and were looking for a statement win to get them back on track. Sadly, J.P Macura got in the way of that as the Hall fell for the second straight time this week.
There is certainly no need to panic in New Jersey. This team filled with senior leadership and young talent have hit a slight skid early on in conference play. Last season, Xavier lost six straight contests in Big East play and turned out just fine (An Elite Eight Appearance is pretty good). With that being said, the Pirates blew a ten point second half lead on Saturday afternoon. Losing leads, especially in the Big East need to be cut to a minimum if you are Kevin Willard as you can tell early on in conference play that most games are dogfights until the very end.
The Pirates look to shake off the dust during their bye week and then they head to Chicago to battle with DePaul before coming back to the Prudential Center to take on red-hot Providence.
It seems that nothing ever likes to go Creighton’s way. After starting the year off strong and dancing in and out of the top 25, the Blue Jays were hit with another season-ending injury. On the exact day that Greg McDermott lost his star point guard Maurice Watson Jr. to injury a year ago, the news came down that breakout sophomore Martin Krampelj would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. This is a significant loss and can possibly change the landscape of where Creighton could finish in the standings come March.
On the court however, the Blue Jays went 1-1 this week, taking down Seton Hall in a revenge game in Omaha followed by a disheartening loss at the hands of Providence in Rhode Island.
I decided to choose them as a tumbler this week not because they did not play well, but it will be an interesting development to see how the team learns to play without Krampelj, who was the unquestionable most improved player in the conference. By losing one of three players averaging double figures, it will be intriguing to see if Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas take more of the offensive workload to keep the Blue Jays playing at a high level.
This week, Creighton travels to Queens to take on St. John’s followed by a return to Omaha to welcome in Georgetown. Playing two of the lower tier teams in the conference is a good way to start the sans-Krampelj era