Adam Kunkel, Xavier Musketeers, Big East basketball

Mat Mlodzinski gives his Big East basketball power rankings for week 9 of the season.

Matchup of the week: UConn vs. Providence

Sneaky good matchup of the week: Xavier vs. Villanova

All games listed are EST

1) UConn Huskies

Last week’s ranking: 1 (-)

Record: 14-1 (3-1)

Last week: Georgetown (W) 84-73, Villanova (W) 74-66, @ Xavier (L) 73-83

Next week: @ Providence (Jan. 4 – 8:30 p.m.), Creighton (Jan. 7 – Noon)

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

Worst losses: N/A

The Huskies are still a national title contender, but Big East basketball play has at least slowed down their streak of opening the season with 13 consecutive double-digit wins.

Villanova proved to be a tough test, although UConn played like the better and more experienced team down the stretch.

An away game at Xavier was the most even matchup to date, and the Musketeers were able to hand UConn its first loss of the season. Dan Hurley cost his team with a technical, something to keep an eye on as the season goes on. Regardless of one blemish, the Huskies are still the top dog in the Big East.

2) Xavier Musketeers

Last week’s ranking: 3 (+1)

Record: 12-3 (4-0)

Last week: Seton Hall (W) 73-70, @ St. John’s (W) 84-79, #2 UConn (W) 83-73

Next week: @ Villanova (Jan. 7 – 4:30 p.m.)

Best wins: UConn, West Virginia, Florida, Cincinnati

Worst losses: N/A

Xavier went 3-0 since the last time I put out a Big East basketball power rankings, and one of those wins happened to be against the #2 team in the country in Connecticut.

Despite being outrebounded by 7 and finishing with fewer assists, the Musketeers still moved the ball outstanding and came away with 11 steals. Zach Freemantle posted a double-double on Adama Sanogo, and five Xavier players finished in double figures in scoring.

Sean Miller’s squad just has one game this week, but it’s another challenging one, as they play at a Villanova team who is starting to come into its own.

3) Providence Friars

Last week’s ranking: 5 (+2)

Record: 12-3 (4-0)

Last week: #24 Marquette (W) 103-98, @ Butler (W) 72-52, @ DePaul (W) 74-59

Next week: #4 UConn (Jan. 4 – 8:30 p.m.), St. John’s (Jan. 7 – Noon)

Best wins: Marquette, Seton Hall, Rhode Island

Worst losses: N/A

Heading into their last string of games, the Friars had been winning a lot, but not picking up many resume wins. That changed in a high-scoring battle against Marquette, a game that Providence took.

They went on to pick up convincing road wins against Butler and DePaul, improving their win streak to seven straight games and their Big East record to 4-0.

This Wednesday, the Friars have a major home-game test against UConn. With a win, it’s time to start taking Ed Cooley’s bunch very seriously.

4) Marquette Golden Eagles

Last week’s ranking: 2 (-2)

Record: 12-4 (4-1)

Last week: @ Providence (L) 98-103, Seton Hall (W) 83-69, @ Villanova (W) 68-66, @ St. John’s (W) 96-85

Next week: Georgetown (Jan. 7 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: Baylor, Creighton, @ Villanova

Worst losses: N/A

Marquette nearly pulled off a good road win at Providence, just falling short of 100 points in the loss. Any doubts about the Golden Eagles’ defense could be shut down in the next two games, as they shut down Seton Hall and Villanova both to under 70 points, resulting in Marquette wins.

On Tuesday against St. John’s, Marquette was back to a high-scoring affair, but they did win the battle to get to 4-1 in the Big East.

Shaka Smart’s bunch gets a lighter game on the back end of this week’s schedule, facing off against Georgetown on Saturday.

5) Creighton Bluejays

Last week’s ranking: 7 (+2)

Record: 9-6 (3-1)

Last week: Butler (W) 78-56, DePaul (W) 80-65, Seton Hall (W) 83-61

Next week: @ #4 UConn (Jan. 7 – Noon)

Best wins: Arkansas, Texas Tech, Seton Hall

Worst losses: Nebraska, BYU

It was foolish for anyone to totally write Creighton off after a head-scratching 6-6 start to the season. The Jays have re-found their scoring and defense, winning three straight games by at least 15 points.

Of course, all three games were in Omaha. Now Creighton gets to play at #4 UConn, in a game between what most people figured to be the best two teams in the Big East, at least at the beginning of the season. Needless to say, Creighton can get right back into that conversation with a monster road win on Saturday afternoon.

6) Villanova

Last week’s ranking: 6 (-)

Record: 7-7 (1-2)

Last week: St. John’s (W) 78-63, @ #2 UConn (L) 66-74, Marquette (L) 66-68

Next week: @ Georgetown (Jan. 4 – 6:30 p.m.), #18 Xavier (Jan. 7 – 4:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Oklahoma, St. John’s, Boston College

Worst losses: Portland, Temple

Villanova picked up a solid win over St. John’s, continuing to show some improvements from the beginning of the season.

Even though the Wildcats have lost two in a row, they were both against top-tier Big East basketball teams, and both by single digits.

Of course, a win over the Huskies or the Golden Eagles, and we might be talking about a Villanova team putting itself back on the bubble. They couldn’t come up with either, so we’re still a few wins away from that now, but a home contest against Xavier would certainly boost the resume.

7) St. John’s Red Storm

Last week’s ranking: 4 (-3)

Record: 11-5 (1-4)

Last week: @ Villanova (L) 63-78, #22 Xavier (L) 79-84, @ Seton Hall (L) 66-88, Marquette (L) 85-96

Next week: @ Providence (Jan. 7 – Noon)

Best wins: Nebraska, Florida State, Seton Hall

Worst losses: N/A

Make it FOUR straight losses for a St. John’s team that has suddenly gone from a Big East dark horse to a Big East team with a dark outlook. The Johnnies have lost games in every way imaginable. Against the Wildcats, the defense wasn’t awful, but scoring was a challenge. Xavier edged out the Red Storm, Seton Hall brought the thunder in a blowout and Marquette poured in ten threes.

The sun isn’t shining too bright in Queens, and a game at Providence on January 7 isn’t going to be the easiest to get out of a slump.

8) Seton Hall Pirates

Last week’s ranking: 8 (-)

Record: 8-8 (1-4)

Last week: @ Xavier (L) 70-73, @ Marquette (L) 69-83, St. John’s (W) 88-66, @ Creighton (L) 61-83

Next week: Butler (Jan. 7 – 8:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Memphis, Rutgers, St. John’s

Worst losses: Siena

Just when you thought the Pirates may have found something, they go right back to some old habits.

Seton Hall nearly took down Xavier on the road, which would have been a monstrous win. They followed that up with poor defense and 15 turnovers in a loss to Marquette.

But then the Hall rebounded, quite literally, pulling down 42 boards in a big win over St. John’s. Any progress that had been made was completely lost as the Pirates came out on the bad side of a blowout, falling to Creighton by 22 points.

9) Butler Bulldogs

Last week’s ranking: 9 (-)

Record: 9-6 (1-3)

Last week: @ Creighton (L) 56-78, Providence (L) 52-72, @ Georgetown (W) 80-51

Next week: DePaul (Jan. 4 – 9 p.m.), @ Seton Hall (Jan. 7 – 8:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Kansas State, BYU, Yale

Worst losses: N/A

Life hasn’t been easy for Butler fans. After losing to UConn by 22 points, Creighton also took down the Bulldogs by 22, and Providence joined the party with a 20-point win.

Butler pulled that card on Georgetown, but unfortunately, that’s about what you expect when any team plays the Hoyas.

To Butler’s credit a win over Kansas State is starting to become much better, so if the Bulldogs can begin to string some key Big East wins together, they have a good starting point.

10) DePaul Blue Demons

Last week’s ranking: 10 (-)

Record: 7-8 (1-3)

Last week: @ Creighton (L) 65-80, Georgetown (W) 83-76, Providence (L) 59-74

Next week: @ Butler (Jan. 4 – 9 p.m.)

Best wins: Minnesota, Loyola Chicago, UTEP

Worst losses: Santa Clara, Duquesne, Northwestern

I hate to inform DePaul fans, but this doesn’t look like the year when the Blue Demons can get out of the Big East basketball gutter.

So far, all three of their in-conference losses have been by at least 15 points, and their lone Big East win came over Georgetown in a close call.

An away game inside Hinkle Fieldhouse against Butler could give DePaul a chance to move up at least one spot in the power rankings.

11) Georgetown Hoyas

Last week’s ranking: 11 (-)

Record: 5-10 (0-4)

Last week: @ #2 UConn (L) 73-84, @ DePaul (L) 76-83, Butler (L) 51-80

Next week: Villanova (Jan. 4 – 6:30 p.m.), @ Marquette (Jan. 7 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: La Salle, Siena, Coppin State

Worst losses: American, Loyola Marymount, @ DePaul, South Carolina

I’m just not sure what to say about Georgetown anymore. Until they win a game against a power conference team, I defer!