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Big East Tiers: 2/4/19

With all 10 teams now at/or past the halfway point of the conference season, we have more than enough data to confirm what everyone has been saying for the past 6 weeks. The Big East is Nova, Marquette and then a complete clusterf*** of mediocrity.

Again, this isn’t some deep, novel insight. It has been plain as day for over a month now, it’s just that we have enough data points to put a number to the mediocrity.

2.4.19 Tiers.JPG

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

Tier 1 – None

I said there was no shot any Big East team made it into this realm, and while Villanova is still a ways away, a victory over Marquette this weekend might be enough to propel them into Tier 1 status.

Tier 2 – Marquette, Villanova

It’s safe to say that the meeting of these two teams on Saturday will go a long way in determining the regular  season Big East champion. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s important to note that these two squads are just head and shoulders ahead of their conference brethren. Yes, Georgetown played the Wildcats close until the last five minutes in Philly, and Marquette has been very fortunate in a few games, but when looking at more than a one game sample, it is not a fluke.

Nova in particular has been very consistent in its tremendous form over the last month. Seniors Phil Booth and Eric Paschall have stepped up in big ways to produce the way we expect Nova seniors to produce, while sophomore Collin Gillespie has provided more consistent bursts of offense when needed. As a team, they currently boast the 10th most efficient offense, something no one thought possible after watching them struggle so mightily against Michigan early on.

As for Marquette, it has exorcised some road demons with convincing victories over Xavier and Creighton. It also helps that they have shot 50% from 3 over the past 2 weeks, the top mark in the country. The top-10 AP rank may be a bit inflated, but this team is as good as they come in late situations.

Season Month 2 Weeks
Villanova 22 15 15
Marquette 32 28 26

Tier 3A – Creighton, Butler, St. John’s

These 3 teams are all in very different places, despite being grouped so closely together. Creighton took a beating at home at the hands of St. John’s last week, and still boasts relatively positive short term numbers.

On other hand, Butler is back to its Hyde stretch, nearly giving away a 17-point lead late at home to Seton Hall a few days after being run out of the gym by Marquette. That Hall victory was the first this season when Kamar Baldwin posts an ORtg under 100. Butler is currently 1-9 in these games.

The Johnnies got thrashed at Duke, but did manage to post a solid victory at Creighton in between a loss to at home to Georgetown. Their Q1 win chances are dwindling, so while the game at Marquette may not be a must win just yet, it will be one of their final opportunities to boost up a resume that lacks meaningful victories.

Season Month 2 Weeks
Creighton 49 66 40
Butler 50 47 121
St. John’s 52 60 74

Tier 3B – Seton Hall, Providence, Georgetown

I was as shocked as anyone to see Seton Hall in the lower half of this tier, but then I broke out the short term and yowzers, the Pirates have been the worst team in the Big East of late by a significant margin. The beatdown at Nova certainly plays a factor, but even looking at the past month, they have played better than only Xavier. Their two big non-con wins are still pulling a lot of weight, but Seton Hall will need to start racking up wins at some point, or the big wins will be seen as random aberrations.

Georgetown, on the other hand, has been playing very well of late, even if it hasn’t translated into victories. Although, it says more about the conference than Georgetown itself that playing like the 69th best team over the past two weeks is good enough for 4th in the league.

Providence did get a jolt  with A.J. Reeves’ return, and then promptly lost at DePaul. The Friars still boast the best defense in the conference, but are the worst offense by a wide margin. If they wanted to go on a patented late season Tournament saving run, they probably needed to beat the Blue Demons.

Season Month 2 Weeks
Seton Hall 64 123 168
Providence 73 77 90
Georgetown 74 64 69

Tier 4 – DePaul, Xavier

And wouldn’t you know, DePaul is no longer in the cellar on TRank, just edging out Xavier. Their metrics are consistently worse than the eye test would tell you, ranking 8th in both offense and defense, but their 4-6 record seems about right.

Xavier is just a mess. There are plenty of talented parts, but defensively, they have now dropped below Creighton, which I didn’t think would be possible this season. They are probably out of all postseason contention, and don’t particularly play as a cohesive unit, so it would not surprise me at all to see the bottom completely fall out of this squad the rest of the way.

Season Month 2 Weeks
DePaul 94 67 102
Xavier 96 132 137

After another disastrous bubble weekend, the NCAA Tournament picture is looking dire for the conference as a whole. (Here is a great breakdown of all potential bubble squads.)

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There is now a greater than 50% chance the only 3 Big East teams go dancing. Creighton, Butler, Seton Hall, St. John’s are all still well in the bubble picture, but have little room for error remaining. And judging how the first half of the Big East season went, I’m not expecting a lot for these squads.

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