The Big East is back to being one of the nation’s top leagues after a down 2013-14 season. Conference play got underway Wednesday with the New Year’s Eve Marathon on Fox Sports 1, and here are some thoughts and observations.
—The New Year’s Eve marathon was great. Only one of the games, DePaul vs. Marquette, was truly close, but each game was high quality and showed that the Big East really is one of the top three conferences in college basketball. Every team except DePaul, Creighton and Marquette have a legitimate shot at making the NCAA Tournament.
—But Villanova is the conference’s only elite team. The Wildcats are a true national title contender and sit at 13-0 after beating Butler. St. John’s and Georgetown are both nationally ranked as of now. But the Johnnies will likely be out of the top 20 after losing at Seton Hall, and Georgetown will lose its ranking after by falling by 17 points at Xavier.
The Big East has several solid teams in that borderline Top 25 range, but Villanova is going to wind up winning this league easily.
—The most impressive win of Big East opening day was easily Seton Hall’s. The Pirates upset St. John’s 78-67 without second-leading scorer Isaiah Whitehead (stress fracture).
Seton Hall led the entire second half. Being able to control a game like without one of your best players is a huge sign of what this team could be capable of when Whitehead returns in a few weeks.
—The most impressive individual performance was definitely LaDontae Henton’s. The Providence forward went for 35 points and eight rebounds in a 65-53 win against Creighton, completely carrying the Friars. He shot 12-for-21 from the field while the rest of the team shot 12-for-33.
However he did get plenty of help from point guard Kris Dunn, who dished out 12 assists.
Power Rankings as of Jan. 2
2. St. John’s
5. Seton Hall