Big East Power Rankings, Week 9: Butler Secures Spot

Villanova remains untouched at the top, but for the first time all season there is a little bit of clarity at the number two position. With their second home loss in conference play and their star point guard out for the year, Creighton has dropped to number three in the rankings, leaving Butler as the easy choice for that second spot. The Bulldogs will have to exorcise their road demons though if they hope to remain there for long.
What more is there to say about the best team in the country with the best player in the country? They only destroyed a solid Seton Hall team by 30 this week. At 19-1 they would be a lock for a #1 seed if the tournament started today. They will get tested this week though, with Marquette on the road and Virginia at home.
If you want to take years off your life, just become a Bulldog fan. Butler had to come back from huge deficits last week in order to pick up their victories. They trailed Marquette by 18 points in the second half and fell down 25-5 against DePaul to start the game. The games haven't been pretty, but the results so far have been. Butler is 6-2 in the Big East, all alone in 2nd place, and in position to grab a 2 or 3 seed come March.
Last week I posted that Creighton would get consideration for the #1 spot in the rankings if they could pick up back to back wins against Xavier and Marquette. Not only did they lose to Marquette, but they also lost Maurice Watson last week, one of the top guards in the country. Watson tore his ACL against Xavier and is done for the season. That's a brutal break for Creighton who had a Final Four caliber squad. They are still good, but they won't be the same without Watson.
I predicted in last week's power rankings Marquette would finally get a win against an elite opponent during their 3 game stretch against the best in the Big East. They nearly did that against Butler, but blew an 18 point second half lead. That win finally came a few days later though when the Golden Eagles put up 102 points on the road against Creighton. Even without Watson that is an impressive victory.
Xavier drops out of the top 4 for the 1st time all season. That's because Marquette was finally able to do something Xavier hasn't and pick up an elite win. Xavier is in no danger of missing the tournament, but their resume is clearly lacking in elite wins. The Big East presents several opportunities, but Xavier went 0-3 against Butler, Villanova, and Creighton the first time around.
Seton Hall is a perfect 3-0 at home but has yet to win a conference game on the road. They are probably on the right side of the bubble for now, but the Pirates will need to do some damage away from home to be there a few months from now. Angel Delgado has been excellent all year, averaging 15 points and 12 boards a game. He had his first 20/20 game last week against St. John's.
Providence picked up their most impressive win of the year last week by destroying the Hoyas at Georgetown. They've responded nicely after a 1-5 conference start. Even their latest loss was somewhat impressive, as it came by "only" 10 points at Villanova. Only one other team has come closer all year there. They get St. John's at home before beginning a murderous 7 game stretch.
St. John's managed to pick up another win last week after dropping four straight. The good news is they are now tied for 7th and have already won 2 more conferences games than they did when they finished dead last a season ago. The bad news is they have no more remaining games against DePaul. Still, KenPom currently predicts them to win 6 games, which would mark a significant improvement as Mullin looks to make the program relevant again.
Georgetown is currently in last place in the Big East standings. The latest embarrassment was an 18 point loss at home to a struggling Providence team. Washington is a mess right now, and that's not even a political statement.
DePaul had a tremendous chance to pick up a potentially program changing victory over a top 15 Butler team on Saturday. Then they reminded us all why they are DePaul. Despite blowing a 20 point lead before halftime, then going over 13 minutes without a field goal in the second half, the Blue Demons still had a chance to win the game with 2 seconds left at the FT line. Cain missed and DePaul eventually fell to Butler by 1 in overtime.