BIG EAST Power Rankings - Nov. 28
1. Villanova (6-0)
Last Week's Ranking: 1
Villanova had a light Thanksgiving week, playing just once and beating the College of Charleston at the Pavilion. The Cats struggled from deep (5-17) but were strong on the defensive end, holding the Cougars to 47 points on 35% shooting.
Phil Booth has missed the last three games with a knee injury, but Coach Wright said it’s not serious and expects to have him back in the lineup this week. It’ll be a big boost as Villanova has really played only seven guys without him. But the players on the floor have been effective with Booth, Mikal Bridges, Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins all averaging double figures and shooting a combined 52%.
The road ahead gets a little tougher as the Cats open Philadelphia Big 5 play this week.
2. Creighton (6-0)
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Hours after jumping 10 spots to No. 12 in last week’s AP Poll, Creighton had a bit of a scare, falling behind by 11 in the first half of the Paradise Jam Championship. They rallied to beat Ole Miss 86-77, much in part to 25 points from Marcus Foster.
In their first game back in Omaha, the Jays had another sluggish first half before pulling away to beat Loyola (Md.) by 30. They continue to be extremely impressive offensively, averaging 91.8 points per game (#9 nationally) and shooting an astounding 54.7% from the field (#2 nationally).
Senior center Zach Hanson, who had been averaging 8 points in 13 minutes, injured his ankle in the Ole Miss game and will miss most of the season. Coach McDermott said a return in mid-to-late February would be “optimistic.”
3. Xavier (6-0)
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Xavier also had a quiet week and rolled to a 22-point victory over Northern Iowa, whom they had beaten less than a week before in Orlando. The Musketeers seemed happy to be back in the Cintas Center, jumping out to a 35-12 halftime lead.
J.P. Macura continued to impress, scoring 18 points on 6-9 shooting. The 6-5 guard leads the Musketeers with 17.7 points per game, almost double his 9.4 average last season.
Xavier has been extremely tough on the boards with a +9.5 rebounding margin. They outrebounded Northern Iowa 42-20 and pulled down 15 on the offensive glass. The Musketeers will have a huge test Saturday when they travel to Waco, Texas to take on undefeated Baylor. The Bears already have three Top-25 wins.
4. Butler (6-0)
Last Week's Ranking: 5
The top BIG EAST win for the week and the first bump up in this year’s Power Rankings goes to Butler. The Bulldogs opened a lot of eyes after upsetting No. 8 Arizona 69-65 to win the Las Vegas Invitational.
Butler was heavily undersized against an Arizona frontcourt that featured two 7-footers. A 9-point second half lead quickly disappeared as Arizona went on a 15-2 to run to go up four with just under four minutes to play.
But incredible plays on both ends of the floor from upperclassmen Andrew Chrabascz, Kelan Martin and Tyler Wideman, and freshman Kamar Baldwin would lift Butler and leave many wondering just how good this year’s team can be. The Dawgs face a quick turnaround as they play at undefeated Utah tonight.
5. Seton Hall (4-2)
Last Week's Ranking: 4
Seton Hall had a big opportunity to make a statement at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando but instead left with two losses to Florida and Stanford and one win over Quinnipiac. I flirted with dropping them from the rankings but still think they are talented enough to keep a spot and will give them a chance to respond.
The Pirates entered the Stanford game averaging 86 points per game but were held to just 52 points and shot 2-17 from three. Khadeen Carrington has been excellent and averaged 21.7 points per game in the tournament. He’s shooting 56.8% from the floor and 55.6% from three, up from 33.5% last season.
Seton Hall will have a chance to right the ship this week against Columbia before they fly to Hawaii for the Pearl Harbor Invitational.