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Big East Tiers: 12/19/18

Almost exactly a year to the day, I put up a little post using some T-Rank charts and MS Paint to try and game out how the Big East as a whole was tiered to that point in time.

I went on to follow up every 2 weeks or so, and it gave us a real good look at how individual teams were faring within a macro setting. So much so that Bart Torvik actually went ahead and added tiered charts to his site, making it much easier to compare as well as much easier on the eyes.

But before before we dig in too deeply into this year’s tiers, it’s important to put them into context. Everyone (including us) predicted the Big East would be down this season after a mass exodus of elite talent and a relative dearth of incoming talent to replace it.

It seems that everyone has been right. Villanova is a shell of the title-winning squad, both in personnel and performance. Xavier lost a 3-time All-Big East first teamer and a tremendous head coach, and it has shown on the court. While the rest of the conference has remained relatively steady, losing 2 No. 1 seeds and replacing them with bubble squads takes a lot of shine off the conference as a whole.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here is what the BEast looked like on Dec 20, 2017.

Villanova and Xavier were clear Tier 1 squads in the top right, while Seton Hall and Creighton were solid Tier 2 teams.

Now look at the chart from today.

There are no Tier 1 squads and only one Tier 2 team (Butler) with two others right on the cusp (Marquette, Nova). The floor has stayed very steady and there are no God-awful squads to be found, but rather a jumble if mediocre to good teams ready for a battle royale.

Tier 1 – None

None, at least as far as TRank is concerned. There’s currently an enormous discrepancy when it comes to Vilanova between TRank (43) and Ken Pom (18), but just using common sense, Villanova is nowhere near an elite team right now.

Tier 2 – Butler

The Bulldogs have only one Q1 victory, a neutral over Florida, and only one Q2 loss, a neutral to Dayton, so their resume isn’t close to the best in the Big East. But the metrics they are putting up in both wins and losses peg them as the best of the bunch to date.

I still have qualms with the load Kamar Baldwin is carrying, though, and I think this issue could be exploited in conference play if not addressed the next 2 weeks.

Tier 3 (A) – Marquette, Villanova, Creighton, Seton Hall, St. Johns

Listen, I love DePaul more than most, but if you think I’m going to put them in the same tier as Marquette I have an Oliver Purnell retread hire to sell you. There is a clear gulf between the top end of the Tier 3 teams and the bottom, and we shall delineate it as such.

For these 5 teams, the NCAA Tournament is an attainable goal, though I do not think all 5 will make it. Marquette currently has the best resume in the conference with 3 Tier-A victories and both losses coming to Tier-A squads. A win over Buffalo on Friday would lock in Marquette as the clear favorite in the Big East and give them a few games of leeway during conference season.

That’s currently the big difference between MU and the rest of the conference, it already has multiple upper tier wins, so it won’t be reliant on Big East play to make them up.

Take Nova for example, losses to Kansas and Michigan don’t hurt a bit, and even the losses to Furman and Penn, though not ideal, won’t be an enormous drag on the resume. However, only the win over Florida State is certain to hold up come March. Oklahoma State projects to be a bubble team at best and a home win over Temple is the extent of their top-100 wins. Again, not a bad resume for most teams, but one that screams bubble.

Seton Hall is in a similar boat, one fantastic neutral victory (Kentucky at MSG), and a solid one over a Miami team that is trending downwards and has lost a lot of its shine. After that, a home victory over Rutgers just doesn’t cut it. One more time, not a bad resume, certainly in NCAA contention, but not something that will stand up with a mediocre BEast season.

Creighton and St. John’s are on opposite ends of the W/L spectrum, but Creighton’s strength of schedule is miles better than the Johnnies’.

Tier 3 (B) – Xavier, Providence, DePaul

Projected to finish between 3rd and 5th in most preseason projections, Xavier and Providence have been the biggest letdowns so far this season. Providence has no good wins, 2 sub-100 losses and an injured star freshman in Reeves. Xavier’s best win is a neutral over a pretty paltry Illinois to go with 5 losses. None of them are bad, per se, but all but one were by double digits.

DePaul actually has a better resume at the moment than either Xavier or Providence. Had they not blown a 16-point 2nd half lead at Northwestern, we would legitimately be saying they could make the dance with 11 or so BEast wins. However, they did lose that game, and have a horrendous non-con with 5 sub-300 teams. They are not a bad team this year, but not good, either.

Tier 4 – Georgetown

The Hoyas really miss Marcus Derrickson, who left early to go pro and now finds himself on the Warriors. Govan has been his usual efficient self, but he is not a creator. That has left a ton of responsibility on two talented freshmen, Akinjo and McClung, neither of which has been very efficient. They have plenty to build on, and will win a good amount of games this year, but losses to Loyola and SMU, to go along with 0 good wins have them out of Tourney contention already.

As it stands, the Big East is projected to get between 4 and 5 bids, with an outside chance at 3 or 6. It’s still too early to focus on this too much, so for now, just know that the Big East is a jumble of mediocre to good teams who will beat up on each other for the next 2.5 months. It’s going to be wild.

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