We’ve got a completely retooled top-5 after a wild week of Big East hoops.
1. Syracuse (20-3, 8-2) | Last week: 1
The Orange are rolling and will only get better with James Southerland back in the lineup. After back-to-back road losses, Jim Boeheim’s group rebounded last week with dominating wins over Notre Dame and St. John’s. Looking at the schedule, the Big East really is the Orange’s to lose, though they will end with four of five ranked opponents.
2. Georgetown (18-4, 8-3) | Last week: 5
Remember when they scored 37 points in a one-point win over Tennessee? The Hoyas slipped all the way down to No. 9 in our Power Rankings, but six straight wins has them looking like the team that took Indiana to overtime in November. Otto Porter is on his way to a Big East Player of the Year award if they keep it up.
3. Pittsburgh (20-5, 8-4) | Last week: 6
We probably underrated the Panthers last week, putting them at No. 6 after a win over Syracuse. But they solidified their status as Big East contenders with wins over Seton Hall and at Cincinnati this past week. Jamie Dixon’s group faces a huge contest Saturday at Marquette which could determine which team gets a double-bye in the Big East Tournament.
4. Notre Dame (19-5, 7-4) | Last week: 7
What. A. Game. Thanks to heroics from a few unlikely sources (Russ Smith being one of them) the Irish took down Louisville in five overtimes last week. It was a nice rebound from a 16-point defeat at Syracuse earlier in the week, but the Irish are going to hang around the top of the standings if they can pull off a road upset or two and hold serve at home.
5. Louisville (19-5, 7-4) | Last week: 1
The roller coaster continues. They are probably a better team than the Irish, and subsequently should be No. 4 in the standings, but it’s hard to justify it after the five-overtime thriller. Russ Smith is going to win Louisville a few games this year, but he was delirious with some of his decision-making in the loss. The good news? Their next four are: St. John’s, Seton Hall, South Florida, DePaul.
6. Marquette (17-6, 8-3) | Last week: 4
The Golden Eagles are being exposed on the road, and yesterday it was in the form of a 19-turnover performance in a loss at Georgetown. They have won 22 straight games at the Bradley Center but play just three more times there this season. Things need to get better on the road quickly.
7. Cincinnati (18-6, 6-5) | Last week: 3
One of the hotter teams of the non-conference season had a rough week, falling at Providence and against Pittsburgh. Offense continues to plague the Bearcats, who haven’t topped 60 points in any of their six losses. That being said, the defense is still stellar and Sean Kilpatrick may be favorite for Player of the Year.
8. Villanova (15-9, 6-5) | Last week: 9
Nothing better to see on the schedule than a week with South Florida and DePaul, and the Wildcats took care of business with wins against each. One of the Big East’s biggest surprises is hanging around the top-8 of the conference, though they still have four more games on the road and three against ranked opponents.
9. Connecticut (16-6, 6-4) | Last week: 8
Kevin Ollie’s group had a three-game win streak snapped at St. John’s, yet with a win over Seton Hall they remain above .500 in Big East play. Shabazz Napier continues to lead a team playing for nothing, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they gave Syracuse all they can handle tomorrow night at home.
10. St. John’s (15-9, 7-5) | Last week: 10
Like Marquette, a weak conference schedule to open the year masked some deficiencies, though losses to Georgetown and Syracuse were expected. They did pick up a nice win against Connecticut and, led by freshman Jakarr Sampson and Marquette fan favorite D’Angelo Harrison, the Red Storm are squarely on the bubble. A win at Louisville this week would be huge.
11. Providence (12-11, 4-7) | Last week: 11
The Friars probably would have moved up further, but it’s hard to justify them over anyone above them, even after two solid wins this week. The talent has been there for Providence all season, and Kadeem Batts came to play as Ed Cooley’s group grinded out wins over Cincinnati and Villanova. The latter came on a game-winner from sharpshooter Bryce Cotton.
12. Seton Hall (13-11, 2-9) | Last week: 13
Seton Hall only “moves up” because Rutgers had themselves an awful week. The story is pretty much the same for the Pirates each week: injuries are killing any chance they have at competing, and Fuquan Edwin is essentially alone in his quest to keep them in any game.
13. Rutgers (12-10, 3-8) | Last week: 12
It would appear the dream is officially dead: That I was dead wrong about Rutgers contending for a top-8 finish in the conference. They simply have no depth and are very poor defenders, despite some pretty raw talent on the offensive end. Maybe next year, but the Scarlet Knights are going nowhere fast and really can only play spoiler to end the season.
14. DePaul (10-13, 1-9) | Last week: 15
The Blue Demons are oh-so-close to pulling off a victory, but it just hasn’t happened. They were able to hang around with Marquette but couldn’t make any late stops, and really the defense has been the issue all year. Oliver Purnell’s group is the second fastest-paced team in the country, but the defense can’t stop anyone right now and that’s a big problem. Cleveland Melvin only scoring nine points doesn’t help, either.
15. South Florida (10-13, 1-10) | Last week: 14
Congrats to the Bulls for being the first team to double-digit losses in Big East play. This week’s losses included a 23-point margin against Marquette an a 28-point margin at Villanova. It’s getting worse for Stan Heath, who somehow coached the Bulls to the NCAA Tournament last year.