Despite three straight victories in the Big East, including an impressive road win over Xavier on Saturday that improved their record to 17-8 overall, the St. John's Red Storm did not receive any votes in the top 25 rankings this week as they continue to fight for their NCAA Tournament lives.
Aside from a 78-70 victory over Xavier on Saturday, the Red Storm also were able to hold off DePaul at home, 86-78, on Wednesday night. Aside from being 17-8 overall, they are now at an even 6-6 in the Big East and are in a virtual tie for fifth place in the conference. This will be a huge week for them when they travel to Georgetown on Tuesday before they return home to play Seton Hall over the weekend.
Poll Movements Across the Big East
Although it is clearly among one of the strongest conferences in the nation this season, the Big East had just two teams ranked in the top 25 today, with Villanova once again leading the way. The Wildcats picked up two straight gutsy road wins this week against Providence and Butler to improve their record to 23-2 and 10-2 in the Big East to lead the conference.
Villanova remained in the number six spot in the nation in both the AP Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll today, and they will get a bit of a break this week when they take on a struggling Seton Hall tonight and an equally struggling Marquette on Saturday.
The Butler Bulldogs dropped only one spot in each of the polls to number 18 in the nation, despite losing their only game of the week against Villanova. Although the Bulldogs fell at home in that one, 68-65, they played right with the Wildcats for much of the way, and they easily solidified themselves as the second best team in the conference at this point.
Now at 18-7 overall and still in second place in the Big East with an 8-4 conference record, Butler will have two road games this week against Creighton tonight and Xavier over the weekend.
Aside from the two teams in the Big East that achieved a top 25 ranking, two teams in the conference also received some votes in the rankings today. The Providence Friars came in at 28th overall in both polls today after a 1-1 week that now has them at third place in the conference with an 8-5 record and an 18-8 overall mark.
They split their two home games this week, first losing a tough one to Villanova before hanging on for a 69-62 victory over Seton Hall on Saturday. The Friars only game this week will be on the road against DePaul on Wednesday.
The Georgetown Hoyas only game this week was an 86-67 thumping at Seton Hall on Tuesday which improved their Big East record to 8-5 and their overall record to 16-8. They received a good amount of votes in both polls today, coming in at 31st overall in the AP and 32nd in the Coaches as the final Big East team to appear in the rankings.
This week will see them play St. John's tomorrow night in a huge game for each of the two rivals, and they will then face DePaul at home over the weekend.
Receiving zero votes in the top 25 polls today were the Xavier Musketeers, who split their two games of the week against Marquette and St. John's. The Musketeers had no problem beating up on a lowly Marquette team on Tuesday, but they suffered a huge home loss against St. John's over the weekend that could have them nearing the NCAA Tournament bubble once again.
With a 16-10 overall record and a 7-7 Big East record, this week Xavier will face Cincinnati in the Crosstown Classic on Wednesday night before they return home to play Butler over the weekend.
Rounding out the bottom half of the Big East are four teams who all appear like they will not be making any noise in postseason play this season. DePaul dropped their only game of the week at St. John's, and the Blue Demons have now fallen in five of their last six conference games.
But their struggles are nothing compared to the Seton Hall Pirates, who have fallen off the map and lost four straight games in the conference as their record has fallen to just 15-10 overall and 5-8 in the Big East. Once a promising season just a few weeks ago, things have fallen off the rails for The Hall, as guard Jaren Sina left the program last week and more and more turmoil begins to surround the program.
If the Pirates cannot pick up a win on the road against Villanova or St. John's this upcoming week, it would be hard to see them going anywhere other than the NIT in March.
The Creighton Blue Jays have overtook the Marquette Golden Eagles for ninth place in the conference with a 77-70 victory on Saturday for their third Big East win. Marquette has now lost eight of their last nine games in the Big East.
Weekly Awards Recap
Darrun Hilliard of Villanova was named Big East Player of the Week today after a career-high 31-point performance against Butler over the weekend. Hilliard dropped in eight 3-pointers in that game, including the game-winning 3 with just 1.5 seconds remaining to secure the 68-65 road victory for the Wildcats.
Isaac Copeland was named Big East Rookie of the Week today as well after he poured in 20 points for Georgetown in their victory against Seton Hall on Tuesday.
Sir`Dominic Pointer also made his fourth straight Big East Honor Roll today, and continues to look like a legitimate contender for some postseason conference awards as the year winds down. Pointer had 24 points in Saturday's Red Storm victory over Xavier, and he is joined on the Honor Roll by Ricky Kreklow of Creighton, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera of Georgetown, LaDontae Henton of Providence, and Trevon Bluiett of Xavier.