The early season is always hard to judge -- what with some teams playing tougher teams than others. So you have to rate not only the result but also the opponents teams played and how they played them.
Hence the first week hodgepodge of the Big East power rankings:
1. Syracuse. Usually it’s hard to know just how good the Orange are early in the season, since Jim Boeheim rarely crosses the New York border in November. But Syracuse’s opening demolition of San Diego State was telling. As is Michael Carter-Williams. The point guard is averaging 9.3 assists per game.
2. Louisville. Yes, the Cards lost to Duke, but they lost to Duke without Gorgui Dieng, so there has to be an asterisk attached here. Anyone who has watched Louisville play knows this is a formidable team, with maybe the best defense in the country.
3. Notre Dame. The loss to a good Saint Joseph’s team in Brooklyn hurts, but the ridiculously impressive win against Kentucky erases any of the bad. When the Irish can execute Mike Brey’s thought-out game plans, their combo of talent and experience will be tough to beat.
4. Georgetown. The surprise team to everyone but themselves, the Hoyas opened some eyes in Brooklyn, beating UCLA and taking Indiana to overtime. Otto Porter is probably the early clubhouse leader for league player of the year.
5. Cincinnati. Sean Kilpatrick is on fire and so are the Bearcats. Paced by Kilpatrick’s 21 points per game, Cincinnati is seventh in the country in scoring, averaging 86.8 per game. The win against Oregon was good, but it would have been nice to see how the running Bearcats handled the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV as a good gauge (but UNLV lost to Oregon in the previous round of the Global Sports Classic).
6. Pittsburgh. Tray Woodall is healthy, Talib Zanna is inspired and the Panthers are back. The most telling evidence? Pitt’s loss to Michigan. The Panthers were in the ballgame in the final minute, ultimately done in by free throws.
7. Connecticut. Let’s face it, the Huskies are playing with house money. No one expects much out of embattled UConn this year, yet Kevin Ollie’s squad already has one big win -- against Michigan State -- and has rolled to a 6-1 record (struggles against Quinnipiac and New Hampshire notwithstanding). Another big test this week: the Huskies face NC State in the Jimmy V Classic.
8. Marquette. Buzz Williams’ squad had a lot of rebuilding to do, what with losing the Big East Player of the Year and league leading scorer, so this isn’t terribly surprising. The Golden Eagles had been competitive until they faced their first real test in the form of a buzz saw Florida team, which exposed their weaknesses.
9. St. John’s. The young Red Storm have work to do, evidenced by losses to two tough teams in the early going (Murray State and Baylor), but this is a team with huge upside as the season progresses.
10. Seton Hall. The Pirates had a chance to secure a decent win against LSU on Thursday night, leading in the SEC/Big East Challenge game by as many as 16. Instead, SHU came up empty after too many end-of-game turnovers, and still lacks even a moderate signature win.
11. South Florida. The Bulls are still very good defensively and still woeful offensively. In their two losses -- to Central Florida and Western Michigan -- they scored 56 and 53 points, respectively. That eventually has to change.
12. Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are 4-1. Their opponents are a combined 9-20 in the MAAC, NEC, Ivy League, America East and Southern conferences. So take that record for what it’s worth.
13. Providence. Give Ed Cooley credit. With little to work with -- Vincent Council is out four weeks with a hamstring injury -- the Friars are at least beating the teams they are supposed to beat.
14. DePaul. Every year the Blue Demons think this is the year, and then it’s not. Despite Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young’s best efforts, DePaul is 3-3.
15. Villanova. The Wildcats lost to Columbia ... by 18. The Lions -- a team that lost by 20 to San Francisco -- were picked to finish third in the Ivy League. Need we say more?