Big East Weekend Wrap: Vol. IX

Posted by Justin Kundrat on January 27th, 2015

The Big East Weekend Wrap covers news and notes from the previous weekend’s games.

The Big East now finds itself squarely in second place of KenPom’s rankings, and the reason lies in the sheer depth of the conference. Eight teams are ranked among the top 100 and seven can be found in the top 50. With DePaul (5-2) pulling its own weight this season and both Creighton and Marquette playing increasingly competitive basketball, there have been only a handful of games in conference play that were blowouts. Of the 37 conference games played to date, 13 (35%) have either gone to overtime or been decided by four points or fewer, ranking the Big East first overall for competitiveness. Given that fact, every weekend’s action features close, down-to-the-wire finishes. Below are three key takeaways from the past weekend of Big East action.

Butler (USA Today Images)

Butler Easily Dispatched the Hall Over the Weekend (USA Today Images)

  1. Seton Hall continues its stumble, posting a 20-point blowout loss to Butler. After racing off to a hot start in Big East play, the Pirates have come crashing down in a manner similar to St. John’s, dropping three straight games and four of their last five. If it wasn’t for a Sterling Gibbs game-winner at Creighton, the Pirates would be on a brutal five-game losing streak following their monumental home court win over Villanova. There are a number of reasons for the Hall’s recent struggles, the biggest being the absence of freshman Isaiah Whitehead, whose playmaking ability is sorely missing when Gibbs struggles to find his shot. Additionally, Jaren Sina and Brandon Mobley have provided inconsistent scoring, putting the onus on the freshmen to step up. Seton Hall was once a top 10 team nationally in three-point shooting, but in conference play they are now a Big East-worst 27.2 percent. The good news is that the season is far from over and Kevin Willard has repeatedly stated that Whitehead is on pace for a full recovery.
  2. St. John’s strikes out against Duke, still has just one win over the RPI top 50. As a Big East fan, it was incredibly difficult to watch St. John’s blow a potential win of that magnitude on Sunday. Steve Lavin’s team led for the majority of the second half against No. 5 Duke and looked ready to douse the storylines about Coach K’s 1,000th win. Instead, Duke guard Tyus Jones sparked a comeback, leading the Dookies on a 14-1 run to overcome a 10-point second half deficit. To anyone watching the game, it was apparent that the Red Storm had more than enough talent and athleticism to match up with the Blue Devils, but when it came to scoring in crunch time, they simply had no answer — St. John’s scored 59 points in the first 30 minutes of the game and just nine the rest of the way. The hot shooting of Rysheed Jordan and Sir’Dominic Pointer disappeared from that point on, and D’Angelo Harrison failed again to emerge as he struggles with a knee injury. The Johnnies, lacking a signature win on their resume, are in desperate need of a turnaround from a disappointing 2-4 league record.
  3. Xavier remains a mystery team. For a team that sports the most efficient offense in the Big East and ranks 22nd nationally in points per game, the Musketeers’ 13-7 (4-4) record might come as a bit of a surprise. Xavier has six players averaging 8.8 PPG or higher, an emerging sharpshooter in J.P. Macura, and yet it currently sits at sixth place in the Big East. Why? Defense. On the road where the team is an awful 0-4 in Big East play, Chris Mack’s team is allowing 1.17 points per possession. Yet at home, this figure drops all the way to 0.97 PPP. In a 65-possession game, that differential amounts to a whopping 13 points per game. Matt Stainbrook has pieced together a string of phenomenal scoring games, averaging 16.0 PPG over his last five outings, but he, along with streaky sophomore Myles Davis, will have to find a way to better contain opponents on the road. Xavier ranks just 242nd in effective field goal defense, with major upcoming tests in a pair of road games at Georgetown and the desperate Seton Hall on the horizon.
Justin Kundrat (166 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at justin.kundrat@gmail.com


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