Big East Tiers: 1/21/19

As we near a full month of conference play, we can’t remove all of the small sample size disclaimers quite yet, but we are getting enough data points that certain trends and movements may be more than just a blip.

Like DePaul not being a doormat.

Sure, they were projected by KenPom to be a top-100 team to start the season (76th), but that didn’t stop every single prognosticator I found to put them in 10th on the Big East pecking order.

And yet they just completed a season sweep of a Seton Hall team that has wins over Kentucky and Maryland away from home. Sure, DePaul is still hovering near the 100 mark in most rankings (108 KenPom, 90 TRank, 94 in NET, 113 Sagarin), but this is a game that teams have to treat seriously each and every night.

As for the rest of the Big East, there has been a bit of separation at the top, but overall, it’s just as jumbled as ever.


As always, you can find this chat, and so much more at I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t yet.

Tier 1 – None

There’s almost no chance of any Big East team reaching this tier.

Tier 2 – Marquette, Villanova, Butler

Marquette was able to take care of business without 2 key players at Georgetown, in a game we may well point to as a turning point of the season. We all know what Howard can do, but if Sam Hauser can play with the confidence and aggressiveness he showed last week, the Marquette offense can find the extra gear it has been missing much of the year.

Still, it has yet to win convincingly since Xavier, posting 4 straight sub-90 GScores. That it has won all 4 is impressive enough, but Marquette has not been able to show its full arsenal in 2019.

Villanova, on the other hand, is slowly showing signs of being the team most projected them to be. It has been playing like a top-20 team for the better part of a month and the road to the Big East crown will still go through Philly.

Butler’s late 2018 dip seems to be a thing of the past. Jordan Tucker is providing a second scoring threat off the dribble, and has taken the burden off of Kamar Baldwin. Butler is 0-6 in games where Baldwin is held to an ORtg under 100, and 12-1 when he’s over 100.

It’s still too small a sample to say Butler is fully back, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Season Month 2 Weeks
Marquette 38 34 34
Villanova 39 21 19
Butler 41 55 21

Tier 3A – Creighton, St. John’s, Seton Hall

These 3 teams have the only shots of the remaining 7 at an NCAA bid, but all 3 have been trending negatively the past two weeks.

Creighton has lost its past 4 games, including basically giving one away to Marquette and has put up as abysmal a defense as I’ve ever seen a team play, including Marquette last year. They have the 313th ranked defense since Jan 4th and this team has no chance of turning it around until they can figure things out on that end of the floor.

Seton Hall has been swept by DePaul in the same two week timeframe. Now it’s true the Blue Demons have been much better of late, but the losses still are still not “good.”

St. John’s also lost to DePaul in that time frame, at home no less, but at least had the excuse that it was playing without Ponds, one of the top-2 players in the Big East. The other two losses came at Nova and at Butler, and both were within a possession or two late in the game.

Season Month 2 Weeks
Creighton 51 68 118
St. John’s 52 41 70
Seton Hall 53 61 88

Tier 3B – Providence, Georgetown, Xavier, DePaul

Not to beat the dead horse, but these numbers speak for themselves. DePaul can not be thought of lightly this season, particularly of late. Max Strus has been very good again, but the emergence of Paul Reed as well as the impact of grad transfer Femi Olujobi has given them enough scoring of late to be able to hold on to late leads.

The Providence defense has actually been pretty stout in Big East play, ranking first over the past month, but the Friars need A.J. Reeves in the worst way. Over the last month, they’ve shot just 30.3% from 3. Seeing as they’re just a shade under 36% for the season, you can say they miss their top long distance threat and then some.

Xavier does have 2 wins in their last 4 games, but the computer numbers are particularly down on X. The Hoyas are talented and young, but the young has often won out.

Season Month 2 Weeks
Providence 75 80 99
Georgetown 83 63 78
Xavier 88 96 124
DePaul 90 64 42

With only two teams above .500 in conference play, the Big East has cannibalized itself this month. Considering that Georgetown and DePaul both came into conference play, the parity has meant the middle has been dragged down instead of being pulled up. Unlike previous years, there is no elite team and no chance to improve your metrics even in a loss.

There is still a good chance the conference gets 5 teams in the dance, but the likelihood of getting 3 is now greater than getting 6. Unless St. John’s can take down Duke next month, I’d expect the downward trend to continue.

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