Big East Tiers: 12/16/19


(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

It’s that time of the year again. No not that one.

Weekly Big East tiers are officially back!

Almost every team (but Marquette) has played double digit games, and though 10 or so games isn’t a big sample, per se, when it constitutes 33% of your total output, it’s large enough to start writing about.

By and large, the Big East was projected to be one of the top conferences this season, and although the bottom of the conference looks particularly strong, it is looking like there won’t be much top tier, Final Four quality, talent in the conference. Instead, there’s a jumble in the middle, with 5 teams ranked between 30-50 in the TRank ratings thus far. (Though to be fair, KenPom is much more bullish on the Big East, with two top 20 teams and 8 in the top 60.)

There is still some big opportunities for the conference to regain some luster, with Villanova hosting Kansas and Seton Hall hosting Maryland, but though we’ll see 80% of the conference in tournament discussions, I’d expect only 1 or two to be eligible for a protected seed.

Without further ado, here’s the chart. And thanks to the wonderful Bart Torvik, now you don’t have to guess which dot belongs to which team, either. All hail Bart.

12.16.19 Tiers.JPG

Tier 1 – None

To be fair, there are only 3 Tier 1 teams in the country, according to TRank.

Tier 2 (A) – Butler, Villanova

The Bulldogs have shocked most pundits (and coaches to) with their strong start after being projected to finish 8th in the conference, almost across the board. KenPom, which was a bit of an outlier in the preseason by having them at No. 33 in the country only pitted them as the 6th best in the Big East. So by any measure, Lavall Jordan and his crew deserve big props.

Villanova has two losses, but both have aged quite nicely, with Ohio State currently 5th and Baylor up to 10th. However, they don’t have any high profile wins, with their only top 100 win coming against Mississippi State (on a Neutral Court). It’s unfair to place too heavy of expectations on them against No. 1 Kansas this weekend, but without a win there, Nova’s noncon resume will be quite barren.

Tier 2 (B) –  Marquette, Creighton, Seton Hall,

I cheated a bit and included Seton Hall in this group, as only 5 spots separate MU and the Pirates, so feel free to send your complaints to the manager.

For Marquette, it seems like their overall resume feels a bit bland, even if the advanced metrics like it quite a bit. For example, KenPom has the NonCon schedule ranked 20th in the country, 131 spots better than last year, even though MU played a whole heck of a lot more high profile games early last season (IU, KU, UL, UW, KSU, Buff). For now it seems like the NET is thinking along different terms, though.

Creighton has dropped a fair bit from its initial ranking, but still sits well with 2 ok losses (Michigan, SDSU even though they got blown out) and a good  neutral site win against Texas Tech that could age into a great one. The Jays have been fairly shorthanded to start the season, losing Jacob Epperson for the year and still not getting a minute out of Davion Mintz. As has been customary, the defense is well ahead of the offense.

Seton Hall is in a world of trouble right now. It had an extremely top loaded non con schedule, and only was able to come away with 1 win of their top 5 games to show for it. Now they face a critical test against Maryland on Thursday and will have to do so without their second best player in Sandro Mamukelashvili, who is out for the next two months with a broken wrist, and a concussed Myles Powell, if he plays at all. Plenty of season left to play, but always good to remember to not take non-fact based narratives at face value.

Tier 3 (A) – Xavier, Georgetown

Xavier was looking “fine” until that pretty bad loss at Wake Forest this weekend. Now, it sits without any Q1 non-con wins and some just ok peripherals. Shooting has remained an issue, with the Muskies ranking 318th in 3pt% (28%). Defense has been the calling card, but even there, Xavier just allowed 80 points in only 75 possessions to a mediocre Wake team. A roadie at TCU will be pretty important to close out the noncon.

Plenty has been written about Georgetown and their addition by subtraction*4. But I can’t say I saw the Macsurgence coming. In fact, I called out one of my favorite writers for calling it in the preseason.

Shame bells for me.

Having said that, I would wager money on Georgetown faltering in conference play. It’s just to difficult to go the distance with only 7 scholarship players. But the wins have been great for the conference as a whole.

Tier 3B – Providence, DePaul, St. John’s

I don’t even know what to say about Providence. They were supposed to be good, and some even predicted great, but it has all gone wrong and now they have to eek out 4 point wins against Stony Brook to prevent losing their 5th sub-100 KenPom game. I don’t get how a team could return as much as it did and get worse on defense, while still being sub-100 on offense. I can’t imagine how those fans feel.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’d think DePaul was a bluebood with the amount of trash their fans have been doing online. I won’t blame them one bit though, as that taste of non-suckage has to be tremendously gratifying and those peeps have been waiting 20+ years to be relevant in the national space again. Avoid letdowns in the last 2 games and this team has a good shot to dance.

The Johnnies have also been impressive compared to incoming expectations, though the computers do not love them quite as much, though that may be because 8 of their 9 wins have come against sub-200 opponents. Still, they have one of the best wins in the conference, with a home win over West Virginia and no bad losses. They have done their part for the Big East.

NET Release

The initial NET Rankings came out today, with the fanfare and attention the official March Madness sorting tool deserves. The Big East has done ok so far.

Looking into it a bit further, though these results are not final by any stretch, they are more stable than most would think.

Expanding the sample past just the Big East to include the top 100 teams from the mid December release last year, the average variance was 2.8% and the median variance was .08%. Twice as many teams (14) finished within 1% point of the final NET ranking than teams that were 20%+ off (7).

That is to say, while it’s too early to be worried about any one particular ranking or quadrant 1, in general, the general vicinity of any given team’s location right now will be quite similar to where it finishes, using last year as guidance.

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