Monday, January 23, 2012
Conference power rankings: Big East
By Dana O'Neil
The best team in the Big East lost this past weekend, but the best team is still the best team. A few other things did change in this week's power rankings, though. Let's take a look:
1. Syracuse: The Orange finally fell and looked as lousy in defeat as they looked great in 20 victories. But one bad loss on the road without starting center Fab Melo does not a bad team make. Syracuse is still easily the best team in the Big East, though the road continues to be unkind with a Monday trip to Cincinnati without Melo.
2. Georgetown: The winner of the ever-revolving No. 2 slot goes to the Hoyas this week, but not necessarily in convincing fashion. Georgetown shot 3-of-24 in the first half at home against Rutgers and made only 12 field goals on the day, but did end up surviving.
3. Marquette: The Golden Eagles have yet to see the best of what the conference offers, but give Buzz Williams’ team credit: They keep winning while everyone else falters. Marquette has won four in a row.
4. West Virginia: Fortunately for the Mountaineers, these rankings aren’t based on basketball smarts, because Darryl "Truck" Bryant's foolish and unnecessary floater against Cincinnati would push WVU to the bottom of the list. As it is, the 'Eers have won three in a row.
5. Cincinnati: The Bearcats are two-thirds of the way through one of the more difficult conference runs, beating UConn in Storrs and losing to West Virginia in Morgantown in overtime. Now for the big test: Syracuse, ticked after dropping its first game of the season, on Monday.
6. Notre Dame: Perhaps the Irish should schedule more games against No. 1 teams. Notre Dame upset Syracuse for its eighth win against a top-ranked team. This after losing to Rutgers on the road.
7. Louisville: What a difference Kyle Kuric makes. Kuric played despite a balky ankle, scoring 21 in a much-needed win for the Cards at Pitt.
8. South Florida: Quietly, while no one was paying attention, the Bulls are building up their best Big East record to date at 5-2. South Florida has won three in a row and five of the past six. Where did this come from?
9. Connecticut: The Huskies’ troubles continue, with four losses in six games, including to a rebuilding Tennessee team in Knoxville. UConn has a tough upcoming slate, at home versus a confident Notre Dame team and then on the road at Georgetown.
10. Seton Hall: The Pirates’ margin for error is slim, evidenced by back-to-back losses to South Florida and Villanova. Seton Hall remains a dangerous team, capable of beating anyone but equally susceptible to bad losses.
11. Villanova: Progress comes in baby steps for a Wildcats team trying to find its way, so a home win against Seton Hall and a come-from-behind overtime victory at St. John’s counts significantly.
12. Rutgers: The young Scarlet Knights are going to be in every game. It’s just winning them that’s difficult. Rutgers gave Georgetown all it could handle but couldn’t steal a road win.
13. DePaul: The struggles continue for the Blue Demons, losers of five in a row and six of seven since league play began. This week could be a good one for DePaul, with young Rutgers and St. John’s teams on tap.
14. St. John's: The troubles also continue to mount for the Red Storm, who are mired in a four-game losing streak with little relief in sight. This week, St. John's hosts West Virginia and then travels to Duke.
15. Providence: After battling back-to-back ranked teams in Syracuse and Marquette, the Friars enter a three-game run of winnable games. Providence plays at Pitt and South Florida and then hosts Rutgers. Nothing is a gimme when you have one league victory, but at least the Friars will have a chance.
16. Pittsburgh: What else can be said about the Panthers? With "College GameDay" on campus fueling the energy in the Pete and Travon Woodall back in the lineup, Pitt still lost to Louisville. The Panthers host Providence on Wednesday in a Big East battle of the basement.