Big East Tiers: 12/18 edition

With Big East play right around the corner, we have enough evidence to start gaming out the true quality of teams, rather than relying on a few outliers, whether positive or negative. 

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Every week, I play around with TRank’s conference efficiency map to get a gauge of where Marquette stands in respect to the rest of the conference.  With 9 or more games in the bag for all teams, the game-to-game swings aren’t as wild, and I feel confident to start making more comprehensive observations.

Here is what the map looks like on 12/18/2017, with just over a week to go before Big East play begins.



Obviously, Villanova is the top team in the country, so it doesn’t take much digging to see where they may end up in the Big East, but for teams like Providence and DePaul, the story over multiple games is hardening and we can declare some hypotheses with a bit more confidence. Something is off with the Friars. Not only do they have a poor loss on the books (at UMass), they have shown poorly in most of their recent wins (Rider, Brown, Stony Brook). The Blue Demons, on the other hand, still should be bottom dwellers, but they will take some scalps this year, and won’t be the 2 or 3 win team they have been the past 2 years. 

The tiers represent arbitrary cutoffs, in the sense that the lines I drew on aren’t some mathematically formulated margins, but they do provide some better visuals for where a team stands based on their efficiency metrics than just posting a chart of the numbers alone.

Here is the map from last season, with the tiers drawn in relatively similar spots. I would say the year end results closely mirrored the clustering we drew in, particularly with Xavier and Creighton falling back to Earth a bit after injuries to their point guards.Capture 2.JPG

In any case, I like these and will continue to pump them out at the start of each week. Here are the tiers as of 12/18/17:

Tier 1 – Villanova

As has become the norm the past 4 years, it’s Villanova’s world everyone else is just playing in it.

Tier 2 – Xavier, Seton Hall, Creighton

Xavier was on the verge of crossing into tier 1 territory last week, but having to mount a 22-point comeback at home to East Tennessee St. will stall that progress a bit. Creighton crossed back over into Tier 2 status after spending some time in Tier 3, while Seton Hall’s loss at Rutgers knocked them back a peg. 

Tier 3 – St. John’s, Providence, Butler, Marquette

Marquette island confirms what everyone already knows, all O no D, following in last year’s footsteps.  

Tier 4 – DePaul, Georgetown

Both squads were within a bucket of winning against high major opponents in the dying seconds. Both ended up taking Ls at home. They won’t sniff the postseason, but the Big East isn’t going to run them over like a cupcake, as many predicted.

If the trick to getting into the dance is to get to 9 or 10 Big East wins, as Ryan examined last week, Marquette will have to sweep Tier 4 and hold serve at home against Tier 3 to get to 7 wins. From there, it’s about taking one on the road from a Tier 3 squad (Providence) and then taking one or two games (anywhere) from Tier 2. As for Nova, last year was a miracle, don’t get greedy.

Easier said than done, but the delineations are starting to come in clearly. 

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