BIG EAST Power Rankings - Dec. 5
1. Villanova (8-0)
Last Week's Ranking: 1
It was another business as usual week for Villanova, who opened up Philadelphia Big 5 play with commanding wins over Penn and St. Joe’s. They continue to stifle opponents on the defensive end as they limited both the Quakers and Hawks to just 57 points and a combined 33% shooting effort.
Josh Hart continued to make a case for National Player of the Year by notching his first career triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against St. Joe’s. Classmate Kris "Big Smoove" Jenkins is also putting up award-worthy numbers. He averaged 21 points per game and shot 62.5% from three in the two wins while recording his 1,000th career point.
With Kentucky’s loss to UCLA, the Cats should find themselves at the top of the AP Poll this afternoon.
2. Creighton (8-0)
Last Week's Ranking: 2
After continuing their streak of slow starts, Creighton ultimately rolled to wins over Buffalo and Akron. Marcus Foster once again threatened the Century Link Center rims with dunks like this and was outstanding offensively, averaging 24.5 points per game. He’s nearly impossible to guard because of his ability to score in a number of ways.
Unfortunately for opponents, there's a lot more to worry about than just Foster. The entire starting five is nearly averaging double figures with Cole Huff just missing the mark at 9.5 points per game. Sophomore Khyri Thomas has been a huge factor in the Jays’ early-season success. He’s averaging 13.8 points per game, more than double his freshman year average, and is shooting 61% from the floor.
Creighton travels to Lincoln Wednesday for a huge rivalry game with Nebraska.
3. Xavier (7-1)
Last Week's Ranking: 3
A three-point halftime lead over No. 9 Baylor quickly disappeared as Xavier fell Saturday in Waco. It was easily the ugliest half of the season for the Musketeers, who shot just 6-26 (23%) in the final 20 minutes. In Xavier’s defense, Baylor is a very strong team with three Top 10 wins and, in my opinion, should be ranked no lower than No. 5 this afternoon.
A glaring question from the game is who other than Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura and Edmond Sumner can consistently score the ball for X? Macura had an off night and the Musketeers received just 12 points from the non “big three.”
This early-season loss is not something to stress over and will serve as a big teaching moment for Coach Mack’s squad. They have a good opportunity to get back on track this week with games against tough but beatable opponents Colorado and Utah.
4. Butler (8-0)
Last Week's Ranking: 4
After moving into the AP Poll last week, Butler proved they belonged there with an impressive road win over Utah followed by a dominant win over Central Arkansas in Hinkle. Kelan Martin was outstanding Saturday, pouring in 30 points and hitting five threes.
With the loss of prolific scorers Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, many have been pleasantly surprised at how effective the offense has been (78.9 points per game on 50% shooting). But Butler’s improvement on the defensive end may be having a greater impact. The Dawgs are holding opponents to just 60.4 points per game, a substantial difference from the 71 points per game they surrendered last year.
Hinkle will be electric Saturday for a showdown with 7-1 Cincinnati, who Butler beat at the buzzer in last year’s meeting.
5. Seton Hall (5-2)
Last Week's Ranking: 5
A win over Columbia may not seem like much to write home about, but the numbers from the game earned Seton Hall the No. 5 spot over a few teams who are knocking on the door. After a disappointing Orlando trip, the Pirates put up 91 points and had four players score at least 17 points in the win.
On a team with many talented guards, Angel Delgado has helped anchor Seton Hall, quietly averaging a double-double on the season. He had 19 & 11 against the Lions and helps create better shots for the perimeter players by drawing multiple defenders to the paint.
Coach Willard’s team is racking up the frequent flyer miles this season as they're now in Honolulu for the Pearl Harbor Invitational. They’ll face Hawaii and Cal.