BIG EAST Power Rankings - Jan. 2
1. Villanova (14-0, 2-0)
Last Week's Ranking: 1
The Cats gave Nova Nation a bit of a scare in the BIG EAST opener, nearly falling to DePaul at the Pavilion. They escaped with a 68-65 win and headed to Creighton for the first game between two undefeated BIG EAST teams since 1989.
In front of 18,000+ people at the CenturyLink Center, Villanova beat the high-scoring Jays 80-70 after falling behind by 10 in the first half. They were tremendous down the stretch and sophomore point guard Jalen Brunson had a breakout moment, finishing with a career-high 27 points on 10-14 shooting and 5 assists.
2. Creighton (13-1, 1-1)
Last Week's Ranking: 2
The Jays were excellent in their conference opener, handing the defending BIG EAST Tournament champs Seton Hall an 89-75 loss behind 21 points and 10 assists from Maurice Watson Jr.
Then came the big test as the Jays welcomed No. 1 Villanova to Omaha. A 10-point first half lead dwindled after Watson Jr., the nation's assists leader, picked up two fouls in the first six minutes of the game. The Jays fell behind by as many as 9 in the second half but battled back to a tie with 4:14 remaining. Villanova was simply sharper down the stretch and pulled away for a 10-point win.
The Jays will learn from the final few minutes and proved that they are a legitimate Top 10 team. Circle February 25 on your calendar for the rematch in Philly.
3. Xavier (12-2, 2-0)
Last Week's Ranking: 4
The Musketeers have now won five straight games and were one of three teams to go 2-0 in the first week of BIG EAST play. In the opener, they shot 60% from the field and out-rebounded Providence 38-20 to roll to an 82-56 win.
Things weren't as easy at Georgetown as Xavier's leading scorer Trevon Bluiett finished with just 1 point. But Edmond Sumner was the difference, finishing with a career-high 28 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists on his birthday. The Musketeers welcome a hot St. John's team to the Cintas Center this weekend.
4. Butler (12-2, 1-1)
Last Week's Ranking: 3
BIG EAST fans were shocked when the 13th-ranked Bulldogs fell to St. John's 76-73 in the season opener. The Red Storm got 26 points from freshman Shamorie Ponds and limited Andrew Chrabascz to just 4 points on 2-9 shooting.
They bounced back with a convincing 78-61 win over Providence at Hinkle and showed how deep they are offensively. Seven Butler players scored at least 8 points and the Bulldogs got 21 points off the bench from first-year players Kethan Savage and Avery Woodson.
5. Seton Hall (11-3, 1-1)
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Marquette was 38 seconds away from taking over the No. 5 spot, but Seton Hall clawed back from down 66-63 to win 69-66. The Pirates were down 1 with 28 seconds and missed the front end of a 1-and-1. But Khadeen Carrington came up with the rebound and put it back plus the foul to give the Pirates a two-point lead.
Big man Angel Delgado continues to dominate games and finished with his eighth consecutive double-double. The Pirates shot just 4-14 from deep but showed they have the grit and toughness to compete with any team in the conference.