Xavier Musketeers mascot, Big East basketball

Mat Mlodzinski gives his Big East basketball power rankings for week 5 of the season.

Matchup of the week: UConn vs. Florida

Sneaky good matchup of the week: DePaul vs. St. John’s

All games listed are EST

1) UConn Huskies

Last week’s ranking: 1 (-)

Record: 9-0

Last week: Oklahoma State (W) 74-64

Next week: @ Florida (Dec. 7 – 9 p.m.), LIU (Dec. 10 – 12:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Alabama, Iowa State, Oregon, Oklahoma State

Worst losses: N/A

Are the UConn Huskies the new beasts of the east? Dan Hurley’s bunch had its ninth straight double-digit win to open the season and its fourth in a row against a power conference opponent. UConn is just running through any team in its way and is 2nd in the first NET rankings of the season.

This week, the Huskies travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators, pitting Adama Sanogo against Colin Castleton in a high-level low-post matchup.

2) Xavier Musketeers

Last week’s ranking: 4 (+2)

Record: 6-3

Last week: SE Louisiana (W) 95-63, West Virginia (W) 84-74

Next week: @ Cincinnati (Dec. 10 – 3 p.m.)

Best wins: Florida, West Virginia, Montana

Worst losses: N/A

Not many teams wanted to step up in the Big East, as the conference continues to struggle as a whole. That can’t be said about Xavier, who defeated a pesky Bob Huggins-led West Virginia team by 10 points. Souley Boum is the x-factor the Musketeers needed and don’t be fooled by the three losses. All of Xavier’s L’s have come by single-digits to top-25 teams.

3) Marquette Golden Eagles

Last week’s ranking: 5 (+2)

Record: 6-3

Last week: #6 Baylor (W) 96-70, Wisconsin (L) 77-80

Next week: NC Central (Dec. 6 – 8:30 p.m.), @ Notre Dame (Dec. 11 – 4 p.m.)

Best wins: Baylor, Georgia Tech, Radford

Worst losses: N/A

The Golden Eagles had their toughest week of the non-conference schedule and almost couldn’t have done any better. Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Kam Jones combined for 44 points in Marquette’s 26-point win over #6 Baylor. Then, a few days later, they fell by just three points in overtime to their in-state rival Wisconsin Badgers. We could very easily be talking about a 7-2 Marquette team, who by the way, also only lost AT Purdue by five points earlier in the season.

4) Creighton Bluejays

Last week’s ranking: 2 (-2)

Record: 6-3

Last week: #2 Texas (L) 67-72, Nebraska (L) 53-63

Next week: BYU (Dec. 10 – 10 p.m.)

Best wins: Arkansas, Texas Tech, UC Riverside

Worst losses: Nebraska

I’m starting to think the tough schedule has caught of to Creighton. Thanks to the Maui Invitational and Big East-Big 12 Battle, Creighton played four ranked teams in a row, splitting the games 2-2. However, Nebraska held Creighton to 30.8% from the field and 25% from three in a major upset. That now gives the Jays a 6-3 record, with all three losses coming right after one another. I still believe in this Creighton team in the long run, but lately things haven’t been too smooth in Omaha.

5) St. John’s Red Storm

Last week’s ranking: 3 (-2)

Record: 8-1

Last week: LIU (W) 95-68, #23 Iowa State (L) 60-71

Next week: DePaul (Dec. 7 – 6:30 p.m.), New Hampshire (Dec. 10 – 6 p.m.)

Best wins: Syracuse, Nebraska, Temple

Worst losses: N/A

When it comes down to it, the Johnnies had only played one other power conference team heading into their ninth game of the season. That game happened to be in a wild atmosphere at Hilton Colesium against the Iowa State Cyclones. The Red Storm trailed by 11 at halftime and saw that deficit balloon to as many as 17 in the second half. Sure, St. John’s is 8-1 and likely in the NCAA Tournament as we speak today. But as the team opens Big East play at home against DePaul, and remaining non-conference games against New Hampshire and Florida State, it seems as if they’re benefitting from a light schedule. Once Big East play intensifies, we’ll know the real St. John’s.

6) Providence Friars

Last week’s ranking: 6 (-)

Record: 6-3

Last week: TCU (L ) 62-75, Rhode Island (W) 88-74

Next week: Manhattan (Dec. 7 – 8:30 p.m.), UAlbany (Dec. 10 – 2:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Rhode Island, Rider, Northeastern

Worst losses: N/A

Providence split a challenging week that featured two road games against quality teams. The Friars were frantic against a TCU defense that forced 18 turnovers. Ed Cooley’s squad rebounded well (+7 on the glass), taking down their in-state rivals, the URI Rams, by 14 points. Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry were in attendance to witness six Friars players hit double-figures in the win.

This week, Providence has a lighter schedule with a chance to pick up a pair of wins before Big East basketball play starts up.

7) Villanova

Last week’s ranking: 8 (+1)

Record: 3-5

Last week: Oklahoma (W) 70-66

Next week: Penn (Dec. 7 – 7 p.m.), Boston College (Dec. 10 – 5 p.m.)

Best wins: Oklahoma, La Salle, Delaware State

Worst losses: Portland, Temple

Give the Cats some credit! In Cam Whitmore’s debut, Villanova knocked off a good Oklahoma team for its first real quality win of the season. Whitmore showed his potential, going for 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals, in a light 20 minutes of work. One area of concern has to be rebounding. Oklahoma outrebounded Nova 31-19, something that won’t work out in your favor too often in Big East basketball play.

8) Butler Bulldogs

Last week’s ranking: 9 (+1)

Record: 6-3

Last week: Kansas State (W) 76-64, Tennessee Tech (W) 80-66

Next week: Yale (Dec. 6 – 6:30 p.m.), @ Cal (Dec. 10 – 5 p.m.)

Best wins: Kansas State, BYU, New Orleans

Worst losses: N/A

Butler made some moves handing Kansas State its first loss of the season in the Big East-Big 12 Battle. It’s by far the best win for the Bulldogs all season, with Manny Bates dominating down low with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

This week, it’s going to be two under-the-radar tests for Thad Matta’s crew. Yale enters at 8-1 with their lone loss by three to Colorado. Cal is still hungry searching for win number one of the season. Hopefully, Butler has fun traveling all over the country in a span of five days.

9) Seton Hall Pirates

Last week’s ranking: 7 (-2)

Record: 4-4

Last week: #9 Kansas (L) 65-91

Next week: Lincoln (PA) (DII) (Dec. 7 – 8:30 p.m.), @ Rutgers (Dec. 11 – 6:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Memphis, Monmouth, Saint Peter’s

Worst losses: Siena

It was a new low in the Shaheen Holloway era, as Kansas dismantled any talk of a Pirates’ overthrow at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks shot 56.9% as a team against a Seton Hall team that supposedly prides itself on defense.

The Pirates get a much-needed home game against a Division II opponent on Wednesday before it’s off to Rutgers in the Garden State Hardwood Classic. That will present Seton Hall with another opportunity to make the most of a challenging non-conference slate.

10) DePaul Blue Demons

Last week’s ranking: 10 (-)

Record: 5-3

Last week: Samford (W) 103-98, Loyola Chicago (W) 78-72

Next week: @ St. John’s (Dec. 7 – 6:30 p.m.), UTEP (Dec. 10 – 6:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Minnesota, Loyola Chicago, Loyola-MD

Worst losses: Santa Clara

DePaul took over Chicago over the weekend, knocking off Loyola-Chicago on the road in overtime. It certainly says a lot about Javan Johnson, who led the Blue Demons with 27 points, along with 6 assists and 4 rebounds.

This week, the Blue Demons open Big East basketball conference play at St. John’s, giving them an opportunity for their best win of the season to this point.

11) Georgetown Hoyas

Last week’s ranking: 11 (-)

Record: 4-5

Last week: Texas Tech (L) 65-79, South Carolina (L) 71-74

Next week: Siena (Dec. 7 – 6:30 p.m.), @ Syracuse (Dec. 10 – 1 p.m.)

Best wins: La Salle, Coppin State, Green Bay

Worst losses: American, Loyola Marymount, Northwestern, South Carolina

Georgetown is just not a good basketball team. The Hoyas have lost 5 of 7 since winning their first two games of the season. It doesn’t get much easier against a talented Siena squad and at Syracuse in a renewed rivalry game. The Hoyas can only hope this week can turn things in the right direction.