Shaka Smart, Marquette Golden Eagles, Big East basketball

Mat Mlodzinski gives his Big East basketball power rankings for week 17 of the season.

Matchup of the week:

Sneaky good matchup of the week:

All games listed are EST

1) Marquette Golden Eagles

Last week’s ranking: 1 (-)

Record: 23-6 (15-3)

Last week: @ #19 Creighton (W) 73-71, DePaul (W) 90-84

Next week: @ Butler (Feb. 28 – 6:30 p.m.), St. John’s (Mar. 4 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: Baylor, Creighton (x2), UConn, Xavier, Providence, Seton Hall (x2)

Worst losses: N/A

Believe it or not, Marquette can wrap up the Big East title and 1-seed in the Big East Tournament on Tuesday with a win over Butler. The Golden Eagles can thank a 2-0 week for that, winning at #19 Creighton and taking by DePaul. Both games were close, which will make Marquette fans a bit nervous with March approaching, but a win is always a win.

2) UConn Huskies

Last week’s ranking: 2 (-)

Record: 22-7 (11-7)

Last week: #20 Providence (W) 87-69, @ St. John’s (W) 95-86

Next week: DePaul (Mar. 1 – 7 p.m.), @ Villanova (Mar. 4 – 7:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Alabama, Marquette, Iowa State, Creighton, Providence, Oklahoma State, Seton Hall, Oregon

Worst losses: St. John’s, @ Seton Hall

Ranked 8th in the NET as of Tuesday, you can’t say many bad things about the UConn Huskies. It seems as if everyone has forgotten about a rough January – and they should. UConn dismantled Providence and then outscored St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. The Huskies have won three straight and seven of their last nine. UConn is getting hot again at just the right time.

3) Xavier Musketeers

Last week’s ranking: 5 (+2)

Record: 21-8 (13-5)

Last week: Villanova (L) 63-64, @ Seton Hall (W) 82-60

Next week: @ #20 Providence (Mar. 1 – 6:30 p.m.), Butler (Mar. 4 – 7 p.m.)

Best wins: Marquette, UConn, Providence, Creighton, West Virginia, Seton Hall (x2), @ Cincinnati

Worst losses: @ DePaul, @ Butler

Other than Marquette and UConn, the rest of the top teams in Big East basketball struggled a lot last week. But Xavier, despite a one-point home loss to Villanova, picked up a very convincing win at Seton Hall by 22 points. It takes a lot of heart to come back after a tough loss at home and dominate a team fighting on the bubble. Xavier did just that, earning them another quality win.

4) Villanova Wildcats

Last week’s ranking: 6 (+2)

Record: 15-14 (9-9)

Last week: @ #16 Xavier (W) 64-63, #19 Creighton (W) 79-67

Next week: @ Seton Hall (Feb. 28 – 8:30 p.m.), #14 UConn (Mar. 4 – 7:30 p.m.)

Best wins: @ Xavier, Creighton, Seton Hall

Worst losses: @ Temple, Portland, @ DePaul, @ Butler

Before you get it twisted, I’m not saying Villanova is the fourth-best team in the Big East. Power rankings take into consideration how hot a team is and when it comes down to it, Villanova took home two wins over top-20 teams in the AP Poll last week. The Wildcats’ defense showed up, holding Xavier to 63 points and Creighton to 67. And if Villanova wins against the Hall and the Huskies this week, can you really take them off the bubble?

5) Providence Friars

Last week’s ranking: 3 (-2)

Record: 21-8 (13-5)

Last week: @ #18 UConn (L) 69-87, @ Georgetown (W) 88-68

Next week: @ #18 UConn (Feb. 22 – 6:30 p.m.), @ Georgetown (Feb. 26 – 12:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Marquette, UConn, Creighton, @ Seton Hall

Worst losses: @ St. John’s

Just when I was about to start backing the Providence Friars, they lost by 18 points to UConn. Now, for what it’s worth, the Huskies were at home and the Friars followed it up with a blowout of Georgetown. But either way, when you lose to similar competition by that much, it won’t help you in the Big East basketball power rankings.

6) Creighton Bluejays

Last week’s ranking: 4 (-2)

Record: 18-11 (12-6)

Last week: #10 Marquette (L) 71-73, @ Villanova (L) 67-79

Next week: Georgetown (Mar. 1 – 8:30 p.m.), @ DePaul (Mar. 4 – 9 p.m.)

Best wins: UConn, Providence, Xavier, Arkansas, Texas Tech, Seton Hall (x2)

Worst losses: Nebraska, BYU

It’s hard to believe that Creighton was atop my Big East basketball power rankings just two weeks ago, but that’s just life in this conference! The Bluejays dropped both games last week, albeit to solid competition. But that still won’t exactly fly when we’re approaching March and you need to prove that you can beat the best. Creighton’s surely done that at times and are a lock for the Big Dance, but it’s trending down at the wrong time.

7) St. John’s Red Storm

Last week’s ranking: 8 (+1)

Record: 17-13 (7-12)

Last week: @ Georgetown (W) 79-70, #18 UConn (L) 86-95

Next week: @ #6 Marquette (Mar. 4 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: @ UConn, Providence, Syracuse

Worst losses: Villanova, @ Butler

How did St. John’s jump Seton Hall, you ask? Well for one, the Red Storm can actually win a game, even if it did come against Georgetown. But they also came *somewhat* close to taking down UConn a second time this season, only losing by nine at MSG. If St. John’s can pull off a major upset at Marquette, we might be talking about a Red Storm team that is (kind of) on the bubble heading into the Big East Tournament.

8) Seton Hall Pirates

Last week’s ranking: 7 (-1)

Record: 16-13 (9-9)

Last week: #16 Xavier (L) 60-82

Next week: Villanova (Feb. 28 – 8:30 p.m.), @ #20 Providence (Mar. 4 – Noon)

Best wins: @ Rutgers, UConn, Memphis

Worst losses: Siena, @ Villanova

A 22-point loss to Xavier just made Seton Hall’s already slim chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament even slimmer. They’ll likely need to go 2-0 this week, and with the opponents being Villanova and Providence, it won’t be easy.

9) Butler Bulldogs

Last week’s ranking: 11 (+2)

Record: 14-15 (6-12)

Last week: @ DePaul (W) 59-58

Next week: #6 Marquette (Feb. 28 – 6:30 p.m.),  @ #19 Xavier (Mar. 4 – 7 p.m.)

Best wins: Kansas State, Xavier, BYU, Yale

Worst losses: @ St. John’s, @ Villanova, Georgetown

There’s no question that Butler, DePaul, and Georgetown are at the bottom of the Big East. So, the fact that Butler took down DePaul last week means they get to be #9 in the power rankings by default!

This week, they face two top-20 teams. Good luck to the Bulldogs, because they’ll need it.

10) Georgetown Hoyas

Last week’s ranking: 9 (-1)

Record: 7-23 (2-17)

Last week: St. John’s (L) 70-79, #20 Providence (L) 68-88

Next week: @ Creighton (Mar. 1 – 8:30 p.m.)

Best wins: @ Butler, Siena, DePaul

Worst losses: Loyola Marymount, American, @ Texas Tech, South Carolina, @ DePaul, @St. John’s

There’s a chance that Georgetown finishes the 2022-23 season with less than 10 wins, something the program hasn’t had happen since 1971-72, which was the last year BEFORE John Thompson. Yeah, it’s that bad for the Hoyas.

11) DePaul Blue Demons

Last week’s ranking: 10 (-1)

Record: 9-20 (3-15)

Last week: Butler (L) 58-59, @ #10 Marquette (L) 84-90

Next week: @ #14 UConn (Mar. 1 – 7 p.m.), Creighton (Mar. 4 – 9 p.m.)

Best wins: Xavier, Villanova, Minnesota

Worst losses: Duquesne, Butler (x2), @ Georgetown, @ Villanova, St. John’s

DePaul went 0-2 last week and lost to a fellow Big East basketball cellar dweller in Butler. For what it’s worth, the Blue Demons gave Marquette a tough test, but still fell short.