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Rating the Big East at the start of conference play

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Conference play in the Big East starts tomorrow. Here is a quick breakdown to catch you up on all the teams that aren't Xavier.

Don't be fooled, these guys are still very good.
Don't be fooled, these guys are still very good.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As Xavier has ripped off 12 straight wins to start the basketball season, the rest of the Big East has also been in action. I know it's been hard to focus on much anything other than the best start but now Xavier jumps into the the cataclysm of playing in one of the best conferences in the nation. Xavier and Nova still hold the top spots, but here's how everything looks as Big East play kicks off.

Big East Standings2

(Click to make that bigger)

First off, there's a couple of surprises in here and a couple of anomalies that should be ignored.

Anomalies:

These teams are sitting in positions on the table that are unfamiliar to them, but figure to course correct soon.

Villanova has two losses and has dropped to #16 in the AP poll. Those losses have come against the KenPom #1 Oklahoma on a neutral court and KenPom's #3, Virginia, in a true road game. Nova is still the class of this conference until someone in it beats them. This is yet another reason why looking only at record and media polling gives an inaccurate picture of a team.

Until further proof comes in, we'll consider Seton Hall's great start something of an anomaly as well. The Pirates are 10-2 but still only 47th in the KenPom rankings. Unfortunately, Seton Hall hasn't really beaten anyone all that good. Wichita St is probably their best win, but the Shockers aren't exactly a powerhouse at this point in the year. A loss to Long Beach State is probably a concern for Coach Willard, as is the horrendously ball hogging play of Isaiah Whitehead.

Surprises:

At what point does a great start or a terrible one become reality? These teams are knocking on the door of having to face the truth about themselves.

Georgetown has been a train wreck so far this year. They are 7-5 and 74th in the KenPom rankings. It's no exaggeration at all to say that the Hoyas have already significantly damaged their chances of making the NCAA tournament. That sounds extreme, but it's not far from the truth. Georgetown needs to start winning big games, and soon, or they are looking at the NIT.

On the other end of that spectrum lies Providence. The Friars were supposed to be decent, but they are actually quite good. 12-1 with that sole loss coming to Michigan State on a neutral court. Providence has beaten Arizona and a surprisingly good Evansville team. Their schedule hasn't been all that tough so far, but these guys look for real.

Hanging Around:

Marquette is probably a year away from legitimate contention. They are 84th in the Pomeroy standings, playing very good defense, and haven't lost since November 19th. Since then they've beaten an LSU team that the mainstream media absurdly overrated and a down Wisconsin squad. They look good now, but their Big East opener against Seton Hall is the toughest game they'll have played since that loss back in November.

Also mildly surprising is Creighton. The Bluejays have zero good wins and one really bad (Loyola Chicago) loss, but they have destroyed some lesser competition. Once again, a McDermott led team is playing excellent offense. Their defense is going to let them down but, for now, they are in the conversation.

Butler falls in this category as well, but don't interpret that to mean they aren't good. Butler is hanging around in the sense that they started the season expected to be good, and they are good. One loss to KenPom #11 Miami and good wins over #4 Purdue and #21 UC have the Bulldogs hanging around right where they always do, near the top.

Really just terrible:

DePaul is actually just the normal kind of bad, coming in at 149th in the Pomeroy and just in general making people wonder why they don't just join the Horizon League or something. They aren't really good at anything or shockingly awful in an y major categories, they're just bad. But hey, they did just beat George Washington.

St. John's, on the other hand, is amazingly wretched at nearly everything. 233rd overall, 122nd in defense, and 312th in offense, the Red Storm are hands down the worst team in the Big East, and it isn't even close right now. Yankuba Sima has a team leading offensive efficiency of 102.6 (five points lower than Remy Abell) and is more than eight points better than anyone else on the team. Laughably bad is really the only way to describe these guys. Good stuff, Chris Mullin.