Each week during conference play, the Voice Sports Staff will provide its take on each team’s performance to date.
- Villanova (18-3, 8-1 Big East)
Last week’s ranking: 2, ↑ 1 spot
Last week: win at St. John’s (68-53)
This week: Feb. 3 vs. Creighton, Feb. 6 at Providence
Death, taxes, and Villanova in first place in the Big East. Sure, the Wildcats were lackluster in their win over St. John’s, but it was a welcome bounceback after a home loss against Providence last week. Now, Villanova must take care of a pesky Creighton squad they beat last month before what figures to be a hard-fought rematch against the Friars in Providence. Josh Hart has established himself as perhaps the best player no one is talking about nationally, and is in the running for conference Player of the Year.
- Xavier (19-2, 7-2 Big East)
Last week’s ranking: 3, ↑ 1 spot
Last week: win at DePaul (86-65), win at Providence (75-68)
This week: Feb. 3 vs. St. John’s, Feb. 6 vs. Marquette
After a rough home loss to Georgetown in the previous week, the Musketeers rebounded nicely with a gritty win at Providence and a comfortable road victory at cellar-dwelling DePaul. Their blowout loss at Villanova aside, which could be attributed to the loss of freshman guard Edmond Sumner mid-game to a awkward fall that left most of the team shaken, you’d be hard pressed to find a more consistent, balanced team in college basketball than Xavier.
- Providence (18-4, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s ranking: 1, ↓ 2 spots
Last week: win at Georgetown (73-69), loss vs. Xavier (75-68)
This week: Feb. 2 at DePaul, Feb. 6 vs. Villanova
After a highlight win at Villanova, Head Coach Ed Cooley’s team came back to earth with a home loss to Xavier and a close road win at Georgetown. Against the Hoyas, junior guard Kris Dunn and sophomore forward Ben Bentil each showed why they’re the top two scorers in the conference. But it was sophomore forward Rodney Bullock’s double-double performance, 10 points and 14 rebounds, that maintained the team’s 6-0 record on the road.
- Seton Hall (15-6, 5-4 Big East)
Last week’s ranking: 6, ↑ 2 spots
Last week: win at Creighton (75-65), win vs. St. John’s (79-60)
This week: Feb. 3 vs. Marquette, Feb. 6 vs. Georgetown
Could this be the moment that all Seton Hall fans have been waiting for? The always talented Pirates finally have seem to gelled their individual abilities into a cohesive unit, one that could bring the team its first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade. Just how long has it been since Seton Hall made the tournament? The last time it happened, 2006, the iPhone had not been invented and then-Senator Barack Obama was still nine months away from announcing his run for the White House.
- Georgetown (13-9, 6-3 Big East)
Last week’s ranking: 5, unchanged
Last week: loss vs. Providence (73-69), win vs. Creighton (74-73)
This week: Feb. 2 at Butler, Feb. 6 at Seton Hall
The Hoyas were a few bounces away from going 2-0 and a few bounces away from going 0-2. It’s quite appropriate considering the roller coaster nature of their season so far. At points, the Hoyas look a like top-10 contender who can play with anyone in the country. At other points, the Hoyas seem like a team on the bubble for the NIT. Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera continues to bear the brunt of the load while sophomore forward Isaac Copeland continues to slump.
- Creighton (14-8, 5-4 Big East)
Last week’s ranking: 4, ↓ 2 spots
Last week: loss vs. Seton Hall (75-65), loss at Georgetown (74-73)
This week: Feb. 3 at Villanova, Feb. 6 vs. DePaul
Last week was an incredible missed opportunity for the Blue Jays. They blew an 11-point lead with 2:23 remaining against Georgetown on Tuesday, then dropped a winnable home game against Seton Hall on Saturday. Had Creighton won both of those games, they would currently be sitting tied for second in the conference. Instead, they find themselves tied for fifth with Seton Hall, which holds the tiebreaker over the Blue Jays. To add insult to injury, senior center Geoffrey Groselle injured his ankle Saturday, and was seen using crutches following the game. The prospects in Omaha just got much more bleak.
- Marquette (15-7, 4-5 Big East)
Last week’s ranking: 9, ↑ 2 spots
Last week: win vs. Butler (75-69), win vs. Stetson (74-60)
This week: Feb. 3 at Seton Hall, Feb. 6 at Xavier
After a dreadful home loss at the hands of DePaul that may have ended any chance of the Golden Eagles making the NCAA Tournament, freshman Henry Ellenson and company had a nice 2-0 week with a win over Butler and Stetson, a rare mid-conference non-league cupcake opponent. Ellenson has a streak of three consecutive double-doubles and is on well on his way to winning Freshman of the Year.
- Butler (14-7, 3-6 Big East)
Last week’s ranking: 7, ↓ 1 spot
Last week: loss at Marquette (75-69), win vs. DePaul (67-53)
This week: Feb. 2 vs. Georgetown, Feb. 6 at St. John’s
Butler may just be the most confusing team in the conference this year. A month ago, the Bulldogs were considered a lock a high-seeded NCAA tournament berth. But a month of Big East play has seemingly broken that lock, and now the team is searching for answers after dropping six of their first nine conference games. Last week, Butler failed to finish in a road game against Marquette which could have turned their season around. A sweep this week against Georgetown and St. John’s may be exactly what senior guard Kellen Dunham (16.2 ppg) and company need to get back on track.
- DePaul (7-14, 1-8 Big East)
Last week’s ranking: 8, ↓ 1 spot
Last week: loss vs. Xavier (86-65), loss at Butler (67-53)
This week: Feb. 2 vs. Providence, Feb. 6 at Creighton
After winning its first game at Marquette, the Blue Demons came back to reality. And reality for the Blue Demons is another ranking at the bottom of the Big East standings. Head Coach Dave Leitao knew that the rebuilding process would take some time. But after half a season of Big East play, he may be starting to have his doubts about returning to Chicago.
- St. John’s (7-15, 0-9 Big East)
Last week’s ranking: 10, unchanged
Last week: loss vs. Villanova (68-53), loss at Seton Hall (79-60)
This week: Feb. 3 at Xavier, Feb. 6 vs. Butler
The good news for the Red Storm? Big East play is halfway over. The bad news? The Johnnies haven’t won a conference game and will face a menacing Xavier team on the road this week. The team showed flashes of competitive play in their game against Villanova, only trailing by one a the half. So there is a chance…a chance that St. John’s will be able to take down one of the conference’s most disappointing teams, Butler, at home on Saturday. Hang in there, New York.