The Villanova Wildcats (13-1, 3-0 in Big East) moved up three spots to No. 8 while Creighton and Xavier both received votes, but not enough to make it into the top-25 for the first time this season. Creighton, which received the second-most votes for a school outside the top-25, went 2-0 last week with an 18-point win against Marquette and a 13-point victory against St. John’s.
The Blue Jays (12-2) are off to a 2-0 start in their first season as members of the Big East, and much of their success can be credited to Naismith candidate Doug McDermott, who is second in the nation in scoring with 24.7 points per game.
The Xavier Musketeers (12-3, 2-0 in Big East) also went undefeated last week, beating St. John’s by 10 and a tough Butler team by nine. The Musketeers have won seven consecutive games since their three-game losing skid against No. 20 Iowa, Tennessee and USC.
Xavier and Creighton will have a chance to prove who belongs at the top of the conference with Villanova when they play each other on Sunday. The Blue Jays will have home-court advantage against a Musketeer team that has only played three games away from home and lost two of them.
On tap for Villanova next week are middle-of-the-road Big East teams Seton Hall and St. John’s. Both games are on the road, so the Wildcats will have to remain aggressive to avoid upsets from very capable opponents.
The Big East Conference is starting to feel the effects of conference realignment as this is the 10th consecutive week that it has been represented by just one or fewer teams in the AP Top 25 Poll. Former Big East member Syracuse is 14-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation while Louisville is 13-2 and also in the top-25.
Notre Dame has experienced its ups and downs with the loss of star guard Jerian Grant, but the Fighting Irish just took down the Duke Blue Devils in signature fashion. Other former Big East teams having success include Pittsburgh (13-1), Cincinnati (13-2) and UConn (11-3).
The additions of Creighton and Butler were meant to remedy some of the Big East’s losses, but the conference simply lost too much. The Big East will need some of its other, older members like Marquette, Providence and St. John’s to step up and help restore the conference’s reputation as the greatest in the country.