Another week of Big East play, and Syracuse remains dominant. But below the Orange, are patterns starting to emerge? It's not the halfway mark of league play yet, and many teams have a chance to turn their seasons around. But what projected to be a weak, hard-to-decipher middle of the Big East may just be a soft, tripping-over-their-shoelaces middle.
One Big East team is undefeated.
One has one loss.
Four teams languish at the bottom of the league table with 1 or 0 wins in Big East play.
The rest are working their way out of a mediocre morass; the next two weeks should add some definition to the league.
Once again, we look the league, with some tempo-neutral tables and efficiency margins to get a sense of which teams are hot, which teams are not, and which teams are just flat-out confusing.
Data taken from Statsheet. You may want to read: An explanation of terms: stats + tempo-neutral terminology used on the Rumble, which will get a rewrite soon. Let us know what's unclear.
|Team||Pos/G||O Eff||D Eff||Eff Margin||W||L|
Efficiency margin notes
Yes, the Syracuse Orange looks ferocious, their defense impregnable, they will eat your children. But did you realize they have played a woeful Providence team twice? And a Villanova team that hasn't stopped anyone? And DePaul? The only top-half defensive teams they have faced are Marquette (who are no defensive powerhouse) and Seton Hall. Of course, the Orange crushed the Hall and scored 1.1 points per possession in doing so, pretty close to their in-conference mark.
They're a monster; but the giant gap between Syracuse and everyone else should shrink.
The same caveat could apply to the West Virginia Mountaineers, who have played Rutgers twice in the space of ten days. But the Mountaineers also defeated Georgetown. The interior defense for the Mountaineers hasn't been great - 15th in the league, only in front of DePaul. The only teams that they've held below 50% shooting on their 2-point attempts are Rutgers (the second time) and Georgetown.
The Seton Hall Pirates continue to be effective, despite a 1-point loss at South Florida where small mistakes - and the Bulls' size - led to a last-minute defeat. They're no longer ranked; but they might be the third best team in the Big East.
The Pittsburgh Panthers are not hard to understand - they're playing like the worst team in the league. Dixon's squad is defensively lenient in every game, and struggling to put up points in the last two contests. Against Marquette, they managed to keep the pace closer to their average, and were striking distance of the win. Slowing the game down - and fighting for more offensive putbacks (instead of just offensive rebounds) - can help them get closer to wins.
Despite a poor non-conference season (losing badly to Auburn?!), the South Florida Bulls lost by three to UConn and has beaten Seton Hall. South Florida may no longer be a bad loss in the Big East. Behind excellent defensive rebounding and an ability to hit free throws, the Bulls are a surprise. Their middle of the pack shooting and poor defensive numbers on field goal shooting is a flag.
- Sharper play from Dion Dixon (the Big East's player of the week) and Sean Kilpatrick has stepped up the Cincinnati Bearcats' per-possession offense.
- Playing the worst two field goal shooting teams in St. John's and Pittsburgh has improved the Marquette Golden Eagles' defensive efficiency.
- Louisville's efficiency margin takes a tumble because of a thrashing by Providence, and they looked much better against the DePaul Blue Demons. With Big East wins against only the Blue Demons and St. John's, Louisville has a lot to prove against Marquette tonight.
- Villanova and Providence just don't force opponent turnovers. Providence compensates by not allowing free throws; Villanova compensates with defensive rebounding. The defenses are still fairly poor, and struggle to get stops.
- The St. John's Red Storm and Rutgers Scarlet Knights are the two poorest defensive rebounding teams in the Big East. Rutgers compensates by being stingier at allowing two-point shots. St. John's prevents teams from going to the line. On offense, the teams are close in offensive efficiency, with the Scarlet Knights able to score from the field but lagging in turnover percentage; the Johnnies can't shoot, but get to the line.
Games of note this week:
- The Marquette/ Louisville game this evening looms large for both teams.
- Seton Hall's game against Villanova is one they should win if they want to keep their storybook season in the national consciousness.
- Pittsburgh also gets a reeling Louisville team at home, a chance to right their season and hold out hope for any kind of postseason play.