We thought it wise to to wait a few weeks before releasing our first set of Power Rankings to get a clearer gauge of where each Big East team stands. Early upsets happen, but after five-to-eight games there’s a much clearer picture. Each week, the team in green will be our team of the week, the one which made the biggest improvement from the previous week. And the team in red, of course, will be the one which took the biggest drop from the week before.
Power Rankings 1.0 will take into account all games up to this point, while going forward each list will only include that week’s performances.
1. Louisville (6-1) | Last week: — : True, they have lost a game, but this is still the most impressive team in the Big East through two weeks. With a loss to No. 5 Duke the lone blemish, the Cardinals have a win over No. 13 Missouri and four more commanding wins (after escaping Illinois State). Gorgui Deing’s broken wrist is a major setback, but Louisville’s performance to date warrants the top spot this week.
2. Syracuse (5-0) | Last week: — : No team in the country replaces talent with returning players better than Jim Boeheim, and this year’s example is sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams. He’s averaging 11.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and a nation-best 9.2 assists. James Southerland dropped 35 against Arkansas, and Syracuse looks like it hasn’t missed a beat.
3. Georgetown (5-1) | Last week: — : When your only loss is an overtime defeat at the hands of No. 1 Indiana, it says something about your squad. The Hoyas led No. 10 Florida at halftime before the game was called for condensation aboard an aircraft carrier, and they took down a Shabazz Muhammad-less No. 11 UCLA team, too. The Tennessee win was ugly, but the Hoyas are back behind Otto Porter and Markel Starks.
4. Cincinnati (7-0) | Last week: — : The Bearcats tout the best record in the Big East through two weeks, and have handled the three high-major teams they have faced (Iowa State, Oregon, Alabama). Sean Kilpatrick has been great and the Bearcats have totaled 90 and 103 points in games thus far. This team is a legitimate sleeper to win the Big East.
5. Connecticut (6-1) | Last week: — It’s been three weeks, but one has to remember UConn’s stellar win against Michigan State on Opening Night in Germany. The Huskies have perhaps the best backcourt in the conference in Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatwright, who have totaled a combined 32 points and 7 assists per game through seven games. A matchup with No. 18 NC State this week will show if Kevin Ollie’s group can move up even farther.
6. Notre Dame (7-1) | Last week: — : A win over No. 8 Kentucky says more about this team than an overtime loss to St. Joe’s in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn. Jack Cooley (14.1 points, 11.3 rebounds) has been every bit the preseason player of the year, while Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins have been solid in the backcourt.
7. Pittsburgh (7-1) | Last week: — : The Panthers have been perfect outside of a loss to No. 4 Michigan, and in that one they even hung around late, eventually falling, 67-62. A healthy Tray Woodall (12.7 points, 6.0 assists) has done wonders for the nation’s biggest disappointment last year. Ashton Gibbs is gone, but Woodall, Talib Zanna and star freshman Steven Adams has this team looking like an NCAA Tournament team again.
8. Marquette (5-2) | Last week: — : An 82-49 clubbing from Florida drops the Golden Eagles a few spots, and there are real concerns about an offense lacking punch for the first time in the Buzz Williams era. Vander Blue has turned the corner and Davante Gardner is a force inside, but Jamil Wilson needs to become more consistent if Marquette is going anywhere.
9. St. John’s (6-2) | Last week: — : It’s no surprise Buzz Williams wanted D’Angelo Harrison. The sophomore is averaging 21.9 points and has the Red Storm out to a solid 5-2 start. Their only losses came against Murray State and Baylor in the Charleston Classic tournament. Depth, as always, is an issue but Steve Lavin’s group has been fine thus far.
10. Seton Hall (5-2) | Last week: — : It was only a matter of time, and Fuquan Edwin has excelled in his starring role. While going from 9.9 to 13 shots per game, Edwin has upped his points, field goal percentage and free throw attempts. Southern Illinois Transfer Gene Teague (13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds) has been a pleasant surprise replacing Herb Pope as well.
11. Providence (6-2) | Last week — : The Friars dodged real trouble when Bryce Cotton’s knee injury suffered Saturday turned out to be minor. Before Providence’s win over Mississippi State, Cotton was averaging a Big East-best 24.3 points, and Kadeem Betts and Ladontae Henton have been solid inside. Providence’s only two real tests were losses by a combined five points.
12. South Florida (5-2) | Last week — : Anthony Collins has picked up right where he left off, averaging 8.5 assists through seven games. The veteran Bulls will be a tough out and could fight for another NCAA Tournament appearance, but a home loss to Western Michigan was disheartening. A Dec. 5 meeting at Oklahoma State will give a better gauge to where they are right now.
13. Rutgers (4-2) | Last week: — : Our pick to surprise the Big East and possibly finish in the top-8, Rutgers is running on its backcourt power and Kansas State transfer Wally Judge has played well. Watch out for the Scarlet Knights if combo guard Eli Carter makes a jump (18 points, 40 percent from 3).
14. DePaul (4-3) | Last week: – Oh, if only Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young had a supporting cast. The Blue Demons have looked underwhelming through seven games, but a 4-3 record is a step above where they usually are to begin December. Melvin looks like an All-Big East member early and Young continues to make strides, but no one else is even worth mentioning at this point.
15. Villanova (4-3) | Last week: — : Jay Wright has some serious rebuilding to do. When juniors Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek entered the NBA Draft rather unexpectedly, it left the Wildcats in a bind, and the results have been less than stellar. A solid overtime win over Purdue was offset by three straight losses to Alabama, Columbia and La Salle. Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono is the real deal at point guard, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better in Philadelphia.