By Dan Gardella
This week has been the most chaotic week in conference play to date. On Saturday, Villanova, Seton Hall, and Butler all fell at home to unranked opponents, the first time in conference history that something of that sort has happened.
This Week’s Ranking
This Week’s Rankings
The Blue Jays have been flying high over the past two weeks. Creighton has won four in a row after starting conference play 2-3 and have solidified themselves as the third best team in the conference at the midway point of the conference season. Greg McDermott’s team only had one game this past week, but it was far from an easy one.
The Blue Jays traveled into the City of Brotherly Love to take on Villanova, who were on a hot streak and like Wildcat teams of old. But Creighton connected on 50% of their three-pointers and got 21 points from Denzel Mahoney off of the bench on their way to a 76-61 win. The game was close midway through the second half, but the hot shooting allowed Creighton to pull away late. Now carrying some strong momentum, the 21st ranked team in the country travels to Providence to face off with the Friars on Wednesday before hosting St. John’s on Saturday.
Xavier could have very well turned their season around after this past week. The Musketeers bounced back from a tight two-point loss to Marquette last Wednesday with a stunning 12-point victory over Seton Hall in New Jersey. Xavier jumped all over the Pirates in the early stages of the game, leading 30-6 with eight minutes left in the first half. From there, they responded to any run Seton Hall had in them.
While Xavier is still jut 3-6 in conference play, a win against a top ten team on the road is something that can push a team over the top. They face off with DePaul on the road followed by a home matchup with Providence next Saturday. Ideally, a 2-0 week puts Xavier back in contention in the top half of the conference. That’s very much possible.
The fall for Butler from the top ranks continues. Since their 15-1 start overall and 3-0 start in conference play, the Bulldogs have lost four of their last six contests to fall to 5-4 in conference play. After narrowly beating Georgetown at the nation’s capital, they fell at home, which is rare, to a Providence team that has been very wishy-washy this season. Although butler has been hit with the injury bug over the past few weeks, the offense has struggled and the defense has not been strong enough to make up for that.
The ‘Dawgs host Villanova in a very pivotal matchup Wednesday night before a Sunday afternoon trip to Milwaukee against a surging Marquette team led by All-American Markus Howard.
The Red Storm have not been able to get out of their own way lately. After an 0-2 week in which Mike Anderson called “disappointing”, the Red Storm find themselves in the bottom of the Big East with just a 2-8 record in conference play. After a tough loss to Villanova last Tuesday, St. John’s led by as much as 16 with 17 minutes to play a Georgetown team that was without Mac McClung. However, the Red Storm blew the lead and lost the game by a single point, shocking the crowd in attendance.
St. John’s has just one game this week, that being a trip to Omaha to face off against a Creighton team that is as hot as they come in the conference. Mike Anderson has not had a losing record as a head coach in his career. But he is getting awfully close to losing that streak.
PHOTO: Denzel Mahoney/gocreighton.con