The Big East has thrived the first six weeks of the college basketball season. The reconfigured conference, which now consists of just eight schools, has four teams currently ranked in the AP Top 20. The Big East is deep and talented, which means it should be a ding-dong battle all season long for the regular-season conference crown.
Below, in predicted order of finish, is an overview of all eight teams in the Big East with notable nonconference wins and losses and their current RPI rating. Note the AP rankings preceding teams in the "Key Wins" and "Notable Losses" sections reflect the poll positions when the game occurred.
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Record: 9-2 SU, 7-3 ATS
Key Wins: None
Notable Losses: No. 7 Oklahoma (12/7), No. 8 Virginia (12/19)
RPI: No. 5
The Wildcats have been tripped up in their two contests against ranked opponents, but this still has the looks of being among the best teams in the country and a prime Big East contender. Villanova features a trio of upperclassmen that have been in no shortage of big games. Senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono was last year's co-Big East Player of the Year, while junior guard Josh Hart has emerged as the Wildcats leading scorer 14.8 points per game. Finally, senior forward Daniel Ochefu leads in rebounds and has been an overall force inside.
The concern with the Wildcats is their wildly-inconsistent 3-point shooting. In their loss to Oklahoma, Villanova went a measly 4-of-32 from beyond the arc. In their win against Pennsylvania on Monday, the Wildcats went 1-of-11. It seems a bad shooting night can occur at any time with this team. Though the ATS record is solid, that fact should at least give bettors pause before pulling the trigger on any given night. Even with that said, this looks like the team to beat in the Big East.
Record: 12-0 SU, 9-3 ATS
Key Wins: No. 24 Michigan (11/20), No. 23 Cincinnati (12/12)
Notable Losses: None
Xavier is one of five remaining undefeated teams in Division I and enters Big East play riding an eight-game winning streak against the number. Xavier has managed to stay perfect despite playing a competitive nonconference slate.
The Musketeers, who have outscored opponents by an average of 17.9 points per game this season, have five players averaging double-digits in scoring. Leading that group is sophomore guard Trevon Bluiett, who has averaged 14.7 points per game while adding 7.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
Xavier is a deep and experienced team with no discernible weakness. They look primed to make a big leap from their 9-9 conference mark of a season ago.
Record: 10-1 SU, 6-5 ATS
Key Wins: No. 17 Cincinnati (12/2), No. 9 Purdue (12/19)
Notable Losses: Miami (11/22)
RPI: No. 20
Butler is the second-highest scoring team in college basketball with an average of 89.7 point per game. Leading the way for the Bulldogs has been senior guard Kellen Dunham and senior forward Roosevelt Jones. Dunham has averaged a team-high 16.3 points per game for Butler, but it's worth noting he's coming off his two worst performances of the season. Dunham was 0-for-12 from the field in the win over Purdue earlier this month and is a combined 2-for-22 for seven points over the last two games.
Even with the recent struggles of Dunham, Butler is a team that has improved significantly on offense from a year ago when it was more a grind-it-out attack. The biggest asset has been the Bulldogs ability to exploit mismatches. Butler should be able to put plenty of points against anyone in the Big East.
Record: 12-1 SU, 7-5 ATS
Key Wins: No. 11 Arizona (11/27)
Notable Losses: No. 3 Michigan State (11/29)
RPI: No. 15
Providence has steadily moved up the polls thanks to its fast start. The Friars are led by who many believe is the best point guard, if not best overall player, in the country in junior guard Kris Dunn. The reigning co-Big East Player of the Year has averaged 16.5 points per game, 7.3 assists and 6.1 rebounds. That's getting it done in all phases, but Providence isn't all about Dunn.
The Friars have also gotten a big boost from the improving sophomore big man Ben Bentil. The 6-foot-9 bruiser has averaged 18 points and eight boards per game to lead Providence in both categories.
Providence has a nice win on its resume and the ATS mark is solid. This team deserves an early look from bettors.
Record: 7-5 SU, 5-5 ATS
Key Wins: No. 14 Syracuse (12/4)
Notable Losses: Radford (11/14), Monmouth, UNC-Asheville, No. 3 Maryland (11/17), No. 5 Duke (11/22)
RPI: No. 145
The Hoyas have been one of the biggest disappointments in college basketball through the early going. Back-to-back losses earlier this month to Monmouth and UNC-Asheville raised red flags throughout college basketball as John Thompson III was expected to have a team capable of competing at the top of the Big East. Georgetown has struggled shooting the ball, and the rebounding numbers also aren't good.
Bettors would be advised to tread lightly with the Hoyas until they show some growth on the offensive end.
Seton Hall Pirates
Record: 10-2 SU, 6-4-1 ATS
Key Wins: None
Notable Losses: George Washington (12/2)
RPI: No. 45
Seton Hall returned plenty of talent, and that has manifested on the floor. The Pirates don't have a signature victory, but their recent win over a solid Wichita State team was their third RPI Top 100 victory. Many may remember Seton Hall had an outstanding first half of last season as well but promptly lost 11 of their final 14 games to miss the postseason. Many of those same players-who were mostly freshman-are back, including leading scorer Isaiah Whitehead and forward Angel Delgado, the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year.
Perhaps the experience of last year's meltdown has brought this team together and made it more focused. The Pirates figure to be right there through the end of the conference race.
Marquette Golden Eagles
Record: 10-2 SU, 5-6 ATS
Key Wins: No. 22 LSU (11/23)
Notable Losses: Belmont (11/13)
RPI: No. 152
Marquette has shown marked improvement in the second-year of the Steve Wojciechowski regime. After struggling to a 13-19 mark a season ago, Marquette enters this year's Big East slate having reeled off nine straight wins, which includes a notable victory over Ben Simmons and LSU. The Golden Eagles have gotten a humongous lift from freshman forward Henry Ellenson. The Wisconsin native has averaged 16.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game while serving as a perfect complement to the returning backcourt duo of Luke Fischer (14.5 points per game) and Duane Wilson (12.6 ppg).
The Golden Eagles haven't been all that good against the number, but don't be surprised if they pull out at least a couple of straight up upsets this season.
Record: 9-4 SU, 7-4 ATS
Key Wins: None
Notable Losses: No. 14 Indiana (11/19), No. 3 Oklahoma (12/19), Loyola Chicago (12/5)
RPI: No. 136
Creighton features a high-powered offense that ranks 7th in the NCAA in scoring at 87.4 points per game. That's the good news. The bad news is they have struggled on the defensive end, as opponents have hit a robust 48.3 percent of their 2-point shots.
The Bluejays feature a balanced offensive attack led by junior guard Maurice Watson Jr. The transfer from Boston University has averaged 12.5 points and 6.4 assists per game to lead in both categories.
Yes, Creighton will certainly need to shore up its defense, but a team that can put points on the board like this is also capable of simply outscoring a better team on occasion.
DePaul Blue Demons
Record: 6-6 SU, 4-7 ATS
Key Wins: No. 20 George Washington (12/22),
Notable Losses: Arkansas-Little Rock
RPI: No. 112
DePaul played a competitive nonconference schedule under first-year coach Dave Leitao, and that recent win over nationally-ranked George Washington lends reason for optimism in Chicago. Leitao did well in his previous stint at DePaul a decade ago, and the hope is he can return the magic to campus.
The Blue Demons, who are shooting a solid 46.1 percent as a team, are led by junior guard Billy Garrett Jr. and senior forward Myke Henry. Garrett has averaged team-highs in points (14.1) and assists (3.7), while Henry has 13.9 points per game on 59.4 percent shooting and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Leitao has this team headed in the right direction, but given the difficulty of the Big East this year, anything more than a slight improvement from their six conference wins a season ago would be a surprise.
St. John's Red Storm
Record: 7-6 SU, 3-6-2 ATS
Key Wins: Syracuse (12/23)
Notable Losses: New Jersey Tech (12/20), Incarnate World (12/28)
RPI: No. 204
The first season under St. John's legend Chris Mullin has gotten off to a bit of rocky start as was to be expected given the overall lack of talent on this roster. The Red Storm are a patchwork of leftovers from the Steve Lavin regime, late-period signees and transfers. Madison Square Garden was rocking like during Mullin's playing career when St. John's upended in-state rival Syracuse earlier this month, but those notable losses listed above are hard to excuse for a Big East program.
The Red Storm rank No. 300 in scoring in Division I with just 66.8 points per game and are 175th in points allowed with 70.2. Additionally, St. John's top two leading scorers-Federico Mussini (14 points per game) and Durand Johnson (11.6)--are both shooting under 40 percent from the field. The Red Storm figure to be heavy underdogs in most games during conference play.
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