Big East weekly efficiency margins, 2-8-11

Tuesday is a good day to look at the Conference that is Larger Than All Others, Big East men's basketball. Big Monday's over, the teams are getting ready for their next game in a conference almost as large as last week's nation-wide Snowmaggedon.

With 8 teams in the AP's Top 25 poll, and talk of getting 10 or even 11 teams into the NCAA Tournament field from the Big East, the conference is a volatile mix of great talents, power teams, and bad matchups.

But DePaul STILL hasn't won a conference game.

Below, I take a tempo-neutral peek at who's killing it and who's getting killed in the league, with some notes on which teams are stepping up and which teams might be morphing into something dangerous to the top of the league.

Team
W
L
Pos/G
O Eff
D Eff
Eff Margin
Pittsburgh
10
1
63.9
114.9
98.4
16.5
Villanova
7
3
65.6
113.0
103.0
10.0
Marquette
5
5
65.6
116.6
109.9
6.7
Louisville
7
3
68.3
104.4
98.8
5.6
Syracuse
7
4
66.0
105.9
100.4
5.5
West Virginia
6
5
62.5
104.5
99.6
4.9
Notre Dame
8
3
62.2
109.4
105.0
4.4
Connecticut
6
4
67.0
101.8
98.2
3.6
Georgetown
7
4
64.2
107.6
104.8
2.8
Cincinnati
5
5
63.2
99.7
99.4
0.3
Seton Hall
4
8
68.1
93.9
98.2
-4.3
Providence
3
8
71.9
101.1
107.5
-6.4
Rutgers
3
8
64.1
101.1
107.8
-6.7
St. John's
5
5
65.6
95.3
102.7
-7.4
South Florida
2
9
64.5
98.7
108.9
-10.2
DePaul
0
10
66.1
93.5
117.7
-24.2

Despite losing a little off of their efficiency margins, the Pittsburgh Panthers are really just running away with this conference. But when Villanova is on its game, the Wildcats are just a notch below, blasting teams by 10 points per 100 possessions. If only the Wildcats' defense was a little better, huh? That defense will be tested in the coming weeks; Villanova has a home and away with Pittsburgh coming up. Can 'Nova win either of those contests? Will those games be knockout games for chances at a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament?!

The Rumble got called out for Hateration in this week's Big East power rankings, hosted by the U Conn Blog. Rightly so; I have the 10th-ranked Connecticut Huskies in the middle of the Big East pack. And that's mostly because their efficiency margins are a little thin for a top-10 team - only 3.6 points per 100 better than even? 4 league losses and a close win over the Seton Hall Pirates? A reason to question the Husky answers, for this hater.

Speaking of the Pirates: since January 24th - i.e., from the Efficiency Margins post of two weeks ago - the Hall has shaved 3.7 points/100 off of their defensive efficiency and added 1.9 pts/100 to their offensive efficiency. And only one of those games was against the Providence Friars; the Hall lost to Connecticut in a second half collapse, lost to the West Virginia Mountaineers in a defensive struggle, and burned the Carrier Dome down (it didn't burn? Apologies) - are the Pirates coming around? Will they be a spoiler, or, even worse - a team that plays its way in to the detriment of others?

The "others" in this case would be the Cincinnati Bearcats and the St. John's Red Storm. Locked in a mortal struggle in the middle of the table, the Johnnies and Bearcats need a good win or two to claw their way into the NCAA Tournament. Next Sunday's game at Fifth Third Arena will likely be a knockout game for one of the teams, the blow that team can't recover from.

Also of note is the resurgence of Notre Dame and Georgetown. The Hoyas looked dead. But like Marvel comic characters, they rise - this time on the power of defensive stinginess. Is it the power of Nate Lubick? Something else? Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish have won 5 in a row with an offensive surge - is that the power of Carleton Scott? Or their weird mojo over Pittsburgh coupled with games against DePaul and Rutgers?

The Big East's regular season has another month. And that month will be unpredictable. Which teams do you think are pretenders?

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