This week was stressful for Hoyas fans across the world, but we're done with playing international games and on to Thanksgiving break. Our team took their talents to the Caribbean where they suffered a humiliating loss to Northeastern before taking care of business against Kansas State and VCU. The win against VCU marks the new Big East's first win of many over a top 10 opponent. For the conference overall, it was an alright week. With the exception of Georgetown, no other teams suffered any bad losses and the Big East went 4-1 against fellow power conference teams. The total tally for the league is now 6-4 when facing a BCS-conference school. Worth noting is that the Big East is undefeated against the SEC and ACC at this early juncture, which counts for something even if the ACC wins came against Virginia Tech and Boston College. Most teams in the conference are in early season tournaments for the upcoming week, and in an interesting wrinkle several Big East teams could square off with one another due to prior scheduling commitments. In between turkey and football-induced comas, checking out the action in The Wooden Legacy and the Battle 4 Atlantis wouldn't be a bad idea.
Note: These Power Rankings are only meant to reflect the most recent result as the itinerary for the delusion train has a clearly marked stop at the #1 spot in the near future.
Last Week: W vs. Tulsa (82-72)
Next Week: The Wooden Legacy vs. Arizona State (11/28)
Potential Other Wooden Legacy Matchups: Cal State Fullerton, College of Charleston, George Washington, Marquette, Miami and San Diego State
Why they're ranked here: More on Creighton at the bottom.
LW: W vs. Miami (Ohio) (77-51)
NW: Battle 4 Atlantis vs. Abilene Christian (11/25), Battle 4 Atlantis vs. Iowa (11/28)
Potential Other Battle 4 Atlantis Matchups: Kansas, USC, Tennessee, UTEP, Villanova and Wake Forest
WTRH: The Musketeers leapfrogged Villanova this week after a dominating performance in their 100th meeting against "rival" Miami of Ohio. Team star Semaj Christon was held in check for the game, logging only 13 points on 3-11 shooting. 13 Xavier players logged minutes in the matchup and sixth man James Farr showcased his talent with a season-high 11 points. Five different Musketeers scored at least 9 points in the kind of game that lets a fan base breathe easy against a non-conference opponent.
LW: W vs. Delaware (84-80)
NW: Battle 4 Atlantis vs. USC (11/28)
Potential Other Battle 4 Atlantis Matchups: Iowa, Kansas, Tennessee, UTEP, Wake Forest, Xavier
WTRH: Villanova has a chance to reclaim their #2 spot over the Thanksgiving holiday with a potential matchup against Xavier in the Battle 4 Atlantis. More importantly though, the Wildcats have a looming semifinal game against Andrew Wiggins and Kansas. A close game against Kansas would put Villanova on the map as a team to watch this season. This week, Jay Wright's squad let Delaware hang around for much of the game and saw the game tied at 76 before a three-point play by JayVaughn Pinkston put Villanova ahead for good. Pinkston scored 26 in the game and is now averaging more than 20 points per game.
LW: W vs. Vermont (70-49), W vs. Vanderbilt (67-60, Paradise Jam), W vs. LaSalle (71-63, Paradise Jam)
NW: Paradise Jam vs. Maryland (11/25), vs. Fairfield (11/29), Barclays Center Showcase vs. Kentucky (12/1)
WTRH: The Friars gained some credibility this week after Duke narrowly escaped Vermont, a team that Providence had blown out just a few days earlier. The win against Vanderbilt in the Paradise Jam showed some serious guts that bodes well for Big East play. The Friars trailed by 16 with 10 minutes left in the game before going on an 8-0 run with 2 minutes to go in the game. LaDontae Henton has been a great asset to Providence so far, putting up over 16 points and 8 rebounds a game while shooting over 50% from 3. He only attempts three deep shots a game, but having a 3-point threat at forward makes defending this team that much more difficult. It will be interesting to watch how Providence plays against tougher opponents as the season progresses. A matchup against #1 Kentucky in Brooklyn will tell us more about this group.
LW: W vs. Vanderbilt (85-77 OT), W @ Ball State (59-58)
NW: Old Spice Classic vs. Washington State (11/28)
Potential Other Old Spice Classic Matchups: LSU, Memphis, Oklahoma, Purdue, St. Joseph's and Siena
WTRH: I was about to move my Butler inspiring basketball meter to full on "inspired" during their game against Vanderbilt in Hinkle Field House when they stormed out to a double-digit lead in the second half after leading by eight at the end of the first half. The meter quietly slid back to "uninspired" as the Bulldogs squandered the lead and needed a missed free throw to force overtime. Regardless, the Bulldogs are still undefeated going into the Old Spice Classic and have the #9 Turnover % in the nation according to KenPom.
LW: L vs. Northeastern (63-56, Puerto Rico), W vs. Kansas State (90-63, Puerto Rico), W vs. VCU (84-80, Puerto Rico)
NW: vs. Lipscomb (11/30)
WTRH: This lunchtime documentation blog has already given you everything you might want to know about Georgetown's performance in the Puerto Rico Tipoff, so I'll spare you the details. The team dropped a winnable game but responded by beating a Big 12 squad and the #10 team in the country, so we'll just call this tournament a mixed bag and move on.
LW: W vs. New Hampshire (58-53)
NW: @ Arizona State (11/25), The Wooden Legacy vs. Cal State Fullerton (11/28)
Potential Other Wooden Legacy Matchups: Arizona State, College of Charleston, Creighton, George Washington, Miami and San Diego State
WTRH: In their rebound game after a loss to Ohio State, the Golden Eagles failed to impress against New Hampshire. Marquette missed 2/3 of their attempts from the field and made less than 15% of their 3 point attempts, a trend that needs to be reversed sooner rather than later if they want to hold on to their top-25 ranking. Marquette has the 330th best Effective FG% in the country and the absence of Vander Blue from this year's squad is noticeable. A trip to the desert to play Arizona State followed by a stop in Orange County, California awaits one of the coldest shooting teams in the country.
8. Seton Hall
LW: L vs. Oklahoma (86-85, Coaches vs. Cancer Classic), W vs. Virginia Tech (68-67, Coaches vs. Cancer Classic)
NW: vs. Fairleigh Dickinson (12/1)
WTRH: Is it wrong to be optimistic about Seton Hall? Oklahoma and Virginia Tech are certainly not marquee opponents, but going 1-1 against other power conference schools and showing the grittiness to pull of the win against VT are positive signs from a team picked to finish eighth in the conference. Sophomore Sterling Gibbs has been great for the Pirates so far, averaging 16.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. The remainder of their nonconference schedule is relatively easy, save for a December 8th tilt with Rutgers, a continuation of one of the worst rivalries in the old Big East. Look for Seton Hall to enter conference play with a double-digit win total.
9. St. John's
LW: W vs. Bucknell (67-63), W vs. Monmouth (64-54, Barclays Center Classic)
NW: Barclays Center Classic vs. Longwood (11/26), Barclays Center Classic vs. Penn State (11/29)
Potential Other Barclays Center Classic Matchups: Georgia Tech and Ole Miss
WTRH: On the court, St. John's has been unremarkable with wins against Wagner, Bucknell and Monmouth to start the 2013-14 campaign. Off the court, things have been rough for the Johnnies. Preseason Big East Rookie of the Year pick Rysheed Jordan was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules before the Monmouth game. This is the second suspension of the year for this team after sophomore Chris Obekpa received a slap on the wrist this October and was suspended for the preseason.
LW: W @ Milwaukee (80-71)
NW: CBE Hall of Fame Classic vs. Wichita State (11/25), vs. Oregon State (12/1)
Potential Other CBE Hall of Fame Classic Matchups: BYU and Texas
WTRH: The DePaul Blue Demons will reside in this spot until they show they're better than any other team in the league after they were picked to finish dead last in the Big East. In nonconference play, this squad has now won four consecutive games after pulling away from Milwaukee in the second half. My optimism towards DePaul is creeping up after Cleveland Melvin's 20 point performance this week, but this team still needs to perform against quality opponents before I'm ready to let them take the escalator from the conference basement to any other floor.
Spotlight Team: Creighton
What's Going On With Creighton:
In Creighton's inaugural season in the Big East, the Bluejays have emerged as a threat to win the conference tournament. Creighton rose to college basketball prominence in the late 1990s and early 2000s by defeating 7-seeded Louisville as a 10-seed in 1999 and, more memorably, by knocking off 5-seeded Florida in 2002 on a buzzer-beating 3 point shot and celebrating exactly how you'd respond if you lived in Omaha and beat Florida. Despite relatively little NCAA tournament success, Dana Altman elevated the status of Creighton to one of the best mid-major teams in America, reaching the tournament seven times. Despite not fitting into the traditional Big East footprint, this basketball-centric Jesuit school in Nebraska received an invitation to help form the newly constituted Big East. Altman left the Bluejays in 2010, but his successor, Greg McDermott has filled his shoes nicely and looks to usher in a new era of Creighton basketball. McDermott's son, Doug, is a two-time All-American who returned for his senior season in hopes of leading his dad's squad to NCAA tournament glory. In a story you've heard 100 times at this point, Doug gave up his scholarship so that teammate Grant Gibbs could return for a sixth season of eligibility. Creighton leads the nation in assists per game and is currently in the top 10 for Points per Game and Field Goal %. The Jays are second in the country in Offensive Efficiency and fourth in opponents' Free Throws Attempted per Field Goal Attempt. In layman's terms, this team is deadly on offense and doesn't commit fouls, a recipe for wins.
Why They'll Beat Georgetown:
You know the guy in pick-up basketball that always seems to get a clean shot off no matter how much defensive pressure is put on him? That's Doug McDermott, except that he's an All-American player who shoots over 55% from the field and not just some guy you play against in Yates. In one particular play against Tulsa on Saturday, McDermott dribbled through a double team in the paint and managed to score on a silky smooth hook shot. It's impossible to overstate Doug McDermott's impact on Creighton's success. When he's on the court, he takes 37.9% of the team's shots, and makes 55% of his attempts. The guy has a knack for scoring and isn't afraid to use the backboard to create high percentage shots either. Last season, 45% of his makes were on bank shots. He's surprisingly quick for a 6'8" white guy and has demonstrated an ability to score in traffic on a level that could see him become a lottery pick in 2014's stacked NBA Draft. McDermott handles the ball well in the lane and is able to hit the mid-range jumper. He should have little trouble facing off against Mikael Hopkins, Nate Lubick and Joshua Smith. Will Artino and Zach Hanson also show skill in the post that isn't accurately reflected on their stat sheets this season, leading to 40 minutes of trouble for the Hoya big men. Defensively, Creighton excels in their rotation and positioning. On numerous occasions in the game against Tulsa, the Bluejays drew offensive fouls against players recklessly driving through the lane. Their bigs allow the 13th fewest offensive rebounds as well, meaning Georgetown could be in trouble without a hot shooting night.
Why They'll Lose to Georgetown:
Creighton's defense excels in the areas highlighted above, but there's reason to be optimistic for the Hoyas scoring at will and beating the fighting McDermotts. Creighton doesn't block shots or create steals at a particularly impressive rate, which leads this blogger to believe that their success at defensive rebounding and not fouling is due to a lack of aggressiveness on that end of the court. The Bluejays have allowed more than 70 points three times this season and have let St. Joseph's and Tulsa hang with them offensively. This team gives up a lot of 3 pointers, so a hot shooting night from DSR can lead to a Hoyas win. Defensively, Georgetown will need to cheat towards the paint and focus on stopping McDermott and the rest of the bigs. Creighton's guard play is good, but certainly not great. Austin Chatman is the only guard averaging more than 10 Points per Game, but his main role in the offense is as a Doug McDermott facilitator, assisting on 34.8% of his possessions. Devin Brooks, a guard who is averaging 9.5 Points per Game is used in a similar way, assisting 34.0% of the time. If the Hoyas can limit Creighton's guards' ability to feed McDermott the ball and force them to take contested shots, good things will happen. Ultimately, winning this game will come down to Georgetown's ability to hit open shots and how well they stop Creighton's forwards.