by Dan Gardella
As the Big East season continues to march along to Madison Square Garden, there has been very little clarity in the league, top to bottom. The only thing clear after this week is that Marquette is not ready to let Villanova run away with the regular season crown.
Last Week’s Rankings
- St. John’s
- Seton Hall
This Week’s Rankings
- Marquette (+1): Lost vs. St. John’s, Win vs. Villanova
- Villanova (-1): Win vs. Creighton, Lost @ Marquette
- Butler (+1): Win @ Georgetown
- Georgetown (-1): Win @ Providence, Lost vs. Butler
- DePaul (-): Win @ Xavier
- Seton Hall (+1) : Win vs. Creighton
- St. John’s (-1): Win @ Marquette, Lost vs. Providence
- Providence (+2): Lost vs. Georgetown, Win @ St. John’s
- Xavier (-): Lost vs. DePaul
- Creighton (-2): Lost @ Villanova, Lost @ Seton Hall
With their thrilling win on Saturday, Marquette jumps over the Wildcats in the rankings. While the Golden Eagles were coming off of a home loss to St. John’s, their bounce back mentality to hand Villanova their first conference loss of the season speaks volumes to the team Steve Wojciechowski has.
Following three straight losses to Villanova, Creighton, and Marquette, the Bulldogs have won two in a row, over Seton Hall and Georgetown to propel themselves into a five way tie for third place.
In their lone game of the week, Butler headed to Washington D.C. for a date with the Georgetown Hoyas, one of the teams neck and neck with LaVall Jordan’s team for placement in the middle of the conference. Looking for revenge from when the Hoyas marched into Hinkle Fieldhouse and won, Kamar Baldwin scored 18 points and Jordan Tucker chipped in with 15 points while adding three three-pointers to help Butler escape with the 73-69 victory.
Any win in conference is good, especially for Butler, a win against a team that is fighting with you for position in the standings. Since being able to play, Tucker has averaged 10 points and more than two three-pointers a night, which takes pressure off of Baldwin and Paul Jorgensen in terms of offensive workload. Down the stretch, this trio can help Butler stick around long enough to finish in the top half of the league.
Providence, more or less, has had a less than ideal conference schedule in terms of results. While the Friars split their two games this week, they finished strong, going into New York and handling St. John’s to give them momentum toward their match-up with Villanova on Wednesday.
In their first game of the week, Georgetown managed to have all of their starting lineup score in double figures and managed to hold every player not named Alpha Diallo in check. While A.J. Reeves continues to get his feet under him as he makes his way back from injury, Nate Watson only scored six points and David Duke only scored eight points.
Things would change Saturday afternoon. In the World’s Most Famous Arena, Providence, led by Watson’s 18 points put four players in double figures while locking down on defense to beat the Red Storm 70-58 to give them their fourth conference win of the season and put them just a game behind the logjam that is the middle of the conference.
For all the struggles Ed Cooley’s team has had so far this season, they are still sticking around and giving themselves a chance to bring themselves up to the top half of the standings with the equal level of competition across the Big East. The Friars have a tough test this week, traveling to Villanova before welcoming Xavier to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The Blue Jays were struck with the injury bug this week, arguably stealing a much needed upset at Villanova away from them. Creighton was without Ty-Shon Alexander, the team’s leading scorer for their match-up with the Wildcats. His absence was felt as they managed to only put up 59 points in 45 minutes of action and lost to Villanova 66-59 in overtime.
Looking to split their games this week, Greg McDermott’s team traveled to Newark to battle with Seton Hall. With Alexander back, the Blue Jays were once again in a low scoring duel with hopes of being on the winning side this time. The result was the same for the Blue Jays, losing 63-58 to the Pirates to go winless during the week and falling to 4-7 in conference, tied for eighth in the league.
Possibly the lone bright spot of the week, junior Martin Krampelj scored 38 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in the two games. More performances close to the ones we saw this week will help the Blue Jays try to finish conference play strong.
After an encouraging 2-1 record on the toughest road trip of the season for the Red Storm, highlighted by an upset of top ten team Marquette in Milwaukee, St. John’s starred at five of their next six games at home and a chance to separate themselves from the pack.
They didn’t do themselves any favors to begin that favorable schedule.
After the win at Marquette, Chris Mullin and company played host to Providence for a Saturday matinee at Madison Square Garden. Without Mustapha Heron, the Red Storm were stuck in place at times on the offensive end. An inconsistent day led to a 14 point loss to a team near the bottom of the conference.
While the league is incredibly balanced, games like this are why St. John’s is stuck in the middle of the conference with a strong possibility of finishing much lower than anticipated. The Red Storm host Butler in Queens on Tuesday before welcoming Villanova to the Garden for a Sunday evening