Ed Cooley, Providence Friars, Big East Basketball

Mat Mlodzinski gives his Big East basketball power rankings for week 10 of the season.

Matchup of the week: Marquette vs. Xavier

Sneaky good matchup of the week: Providence vs. Creighton

All games listed are EST

1) UConn Huskies

Last week’s ranking: 1 (-)

Record: 15-2 (4-2)

Last week: @ Providence (L) 61-73, Creighton (W) 69-60

Next week: @ #25 Marquette (Jan. 11 – 7 p.m.), St. John’s (Jan. 15 – Noon)

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

Worst losses: N/A

UConn has hit the meat and potatoes of its Big East basketball schedule, losing a second straight game at Providence. The Friars held Adama Sanogo to 11 points and 7 rebounds, showing that the big man can be limited.

The same couldn’t be executed by Creighton. Sanogo bounced back for 26 points and 9 rebounds, giving UConn its first-ever win over Creighton in program history.

The gap at the top of the Big East is as close as its been this year, but there’s still no reason to bump UConn down a spot.

2) Providence Friars

Last week’s ranking: 3 (+1)

Record: 14-3 (6-0)

Last week: #4 UConn (W) 73-61, St. John’s (W) 83-80

Next week: @ Creighton (Jan. 14 –  2 p.m.)

Best wins: UConn, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall

Worst losses: N/A

Providence’s home court might be the most underrated in college basketball. The Friars have yet to lose inside the Amica Mutal Pavillion all season long, and haven’t lost there since February 15, 2022 in a ranked battle against Villanova.

Ed Cooley’s bunch has now strung together an impressive nine wins in a row and did so against a tough week that featured a national title contender in Connecticut.

All five Providence starters hit double-figures in the win over St. John’s, a staple of the Friars this season.

Only one game is on the schedule this week, but it’s a tough test at Creighton.

3) Xavier Musketeers

Last week’s ranking: 2 (-1)

Record: 13-3 (5-0)

Last week: @ Villanova (W) 88-80

Next week: Creighton (Jan. 11 – 7 p.m.), #25 Marquette (Jan. 15 – Noon)

Best wins: UConn, @ Villanova, West Virginia, Florida, Cincinnati

Worst losses: N/A

Like Providence, Xavier is also in the midst of a 9-game winning streak. If you remember, the only three Musketeers loses this season are to Indiana, Duke, and Gonzaga. The resume speaks volumes to how tough Sean Miller’s group is.

In last week’s contest at Villanova, Zach Freemantle added another ridiculous game to his All-Big East season, going for 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists. At the beginning of the season, I thought Freemantle would be the x-factor for Xavier if he returned to how well he played when he first stepped foot in Cincinnati. Right now, we’re getting an even better version than imagined.

4) Marquette Golden Eagles

Last week’s ranking: 4 (-)

Record: 13-4 (5-1)

Last week: Georgetown (W) 95-73

Next week: #6 UConn (Jan. 11 – 7 p.m.), @ #12 Xavier (Jan. 15 – Noon)

Best wins: Baylor, Creighton, @ Villanova

Worst losses: N/A

Before we move on to this week’s schedule, we do have to give Shaka Smart and Marquette a lot of credit for rounding up the Golden Eagles against Georgetown. Being down two points at halftime to the Hoyas did not look good, but Marquette rallied for a 61-point second half and still won by 22 points.

Moving on to this week.

We’re going to find out a lot about Marquette, who will welcome #6 UConn to Milwaukee on Tuesday and travel to Cincinnati to face #12 Xavier on Saturday. That’s as tough as it gets, not to mention next week’s first game is back home against Providence.

Buckle down, Marquette fans.

5) Creighton Bluejays

Last week’s ranking: 5 (-)

Record: 9-7 (3-2)

Last week: @ #4 UConn (L) 60-69

Next week: @ #12 Xavier (Jan. 11 – 7 p.m.), #19 Providence (Jan. 14 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: Arkansas, Texas Tech, Seton Hall

Worst losses: Nebraska, BYU

Creighton couldn’t add on to a 3-game losing streak, ultimately falling by nine points to UConn. But even in the loss, we see an improved Bluejays team that is looking more and more like the NCAA Tournament team we thought they would be.

It will be a MUST for Creighton to come out with at least one win this week. Xavier and Providence are two very quality teams, but it’s time for Creighton to add on a few more resume wins. As it stands, Texas Tech and Seton Hall are two of the Jays’ best three wins, and neither the Red Raiders or Pirates would probably be in the Big Dance as we speak.

The battle against Providence might be whose bench can step up first. Neither team likes to go too deep, but one might have to if they want to come up with an edge in the game.

6) Villanova Wildcats

Last week’s ranking: 6 (-)

Record: 8-8 (2-3)

Last week: @ Georgetown (W) 73-57, #18 Xavier (L) 80-88

Next week: @ DePaul (Jan. 10 – 9 p.m.), @ Butler (Jan. 13 – 7 p.m.)

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

Worst losses: Portland, Temple

After finishing the end of the non-conference slate on a high note, Villanova has hit a rut again. They’re just 2-3 in Big East basketball play, and the two wins are over St. John’s and Georgetown – the bottom two teams in the actual standings.

This week won’t provide much of a resume boost, but it can get the Wildcats headed back in the right direction. You can’t write of any team in this league, but a week against DePaul and Butler could help Villanova figure some things out.

One thing could be getting Jordan Longino going. The sophomore hasn’t taken as big of a step up as people expected and could be the juice Nova is missing right now.

7) Seton Hall Pirates

Last week’s ranking: 8 (+1)

Record: 9-8 (2-4)

Last week: Butler (W) 76-51

Next week: @ Georgetown (Jan. 10 – 8:30 p.m.), @ DePaul (Jan. 14 – Noon)

Best wins: Memphis, Rutgers, Butler

Worst losses: Siena

It was against a fairly even team, but the Seton Hall Pirates controlled the game from start to finish, picking up their second conference win of the season by 25 points over Butler.

Tyrese Samuel was an efficient 9-of-11 for 19 points and 7 rebounds, while Tray Jackson canned three triples off the bench.

If this is what we can expect from Seton Hall on a nightly basis, it puts the Pirates in a whole different light. This week, they do have a chance to go 2-0, with road games at Georgetown and DePaul, before home contests against UConn and Marquette next week. If there’s any week to tack on a few more wins, it’d be this one.

8) Butler Bulldogs

Last week’s ranking: 9 (+1)

Record: 10-7 (2-4)

Last week: DePaul (W) 78-70, @ Seton Hall (L) 51-76

Next week: @ St. John’s (Jan. 10 – 6:30 p.m.), Villanova (Jan. 13 – 7 p.m.)

Best wins: Kansas State, BYU, Yale

Worst losses: N/A

You could point at the big loss to Seton Hall, or you could point to the fact that Butler did at least get one win last week, and has double the number of Big East basketball wins as St. John’s does. That, in essence, is why Butler actually moved up a spot this week.

But when it gets down to it, Thad Matta’s return isn’t going too smoothly. Butler’s offense has been stagnant, only averaging about 13 assists per game as a team. They’re also scoring just under 70 points per game, which even in a defensive conference like the Big East, just won’t cut it.

9) St. John’s Red Storm

Last week’s ranking: 7 (-2)

Record: 11-6 (1-5)

Last week: @ Providence (L) 80-83

Next week: Butler (Jan. 10 – 6:30 p.m.), @ #6 UConn (Jan. 15 – Noon)

Best wins: Nebraska, Florida State, Seton Hall

Worst losses: N/A

The Red Storm still doesn’t have a bad loss, but the number of losses is quickly adding up, especially in the conference. In fact, St. John’s went from a non-conference warrior to a Big East bottom feeder in a matter of a few weeks.

A game against Butler is probably the biggest on the schedule at this point in time. One would think that St. John’s would be hungry for a home win over a team you would think they could beat.

10) DePaul Blue Demons

Last week’s ranking: 10 (-)

Record: 7-9 (1-4)

Last week: @ Butler (L) 70-78

Next week: Villanova (Jan. 10 – 9 p.m.), Seton Hall (Jan. 14 – Noon)

Best wins: Minnesota, Loyola Chicago, UTEP

Worst losses: Santa Clara, Duquesne, @ Butler

After falling to Butler, DePaul might have to wait until January 24 for their next sure-fire chance at a win, at Georgetown.

Until then, the Blue Demons play Villanova, Seton Hall, Xavier, and Providence, which doesn’t exactly scream ‘wins’ based on what we’ve seen out of them this season.

11) Georgetown Hoyas

Last week’s ranking: 11 (-)

Record: 5-12 (0-6)

Last week: Villanova (L) 57-73, @ Marquette (L) 73-95

Next week: Seton Hall (Jan. 10 – 8:30 p.m.)

Best wins: La Salle, Siena, Coppin State

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

It started as a joke, it became old, and now it’s just getting to be annoying. Can Georgetown just win a game, please???