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Five Big East midweek talking points

Conference play bolsters every team in the Big East, DePaul is hanging around, and the rest of the stories from around the conference.

DePaul's bench demonstrating what actual team spirit looks like.
DePaul's bench demonstrating what actual team spirit looks like.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Dunn or D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera?
Providence and Georgetown battled it out in the other late game last night, with Providence eventually coming away with a 74-71 win. The game showcased two of the best guards in the league with Kris Dunn and DSR going back and forth the whole game. If you like guards who score, Smith-Rivera ended the game with 21 on 6-14/5-10/4-4 shooting. If ball distribution is more your thing, Dunn had 12/3/9, assisting 45% of his teammates' baskets. Sure DSR had no turnovers to Dunn's five, but Dunn had six steals to Smith-Rivera's one. Both of these guys can play ball at a high level; who you think is better might just come down to a matter of taste.

St. John's is reeling
After beginning the year 11-1, the Red Storm has lost 7 of its last 10. Their offensive efficiency is 8th in the Big East and their defensive efficiency is 10th. They can't rebound, struggle to shoot, and can't defend aside from blocking shots. They don't have enough depth (347th in the nation in bench minutes) to make changes in personnel and the fan base is questioning whether or not Steve Lavin has the coaching chops to change the strategy. If D'Angelo Harrison or Sir'Dominic Porter isn't creating his own shot, St. John's is going to struggle to beat anyone. Their once promising season is threatening to end in a whole pile of nothing.

DePaul is somehow still relevant
Seton Hall may be struggling, but if I told you before the season that the Blue Demons would beat them by 13, you'd probably have assumed I was crazy. Sterling Gibbs getting punked aside, DePaul's win was significant because it moved them to 6-5 and set them to play a lower half team like (sigh) Xavier in the Big East tournament. DePaul isn't getting into the NCAA tournament on an at-large, but anything can happen for a hot team in Madison Square Garden. As an added bonus, the self-styled DePaul BenchMob is well worth a quick check on Twitter.

Marquette is in a tailspin
The Golden Eagles opened the Big East at 2-2 and have not won since. That swoon started with the four point loss at Xavier and extended through a three point loss and two overtime games before the wheels well and truly came off. Marquette wasn't expected to be the class of the Big East this year, but 2-8 is beyond the pale. How much slack will new coach Steve Wojciechowski get to try to turn around the program? Getting obliterated by a rampaging Villanova happens, but it's hard to look at Marquette's remaining schedule and see anything resembling a sure win.

Conference play is not hurting the Big East
St. John's came into conference play 21st in the KenPom rankings and has since gone 3-8. Those conference struggles have seem them drop all the way to 41st. The seven top teams in the Big East are all in the top 50 of the Pomeroy rankings and, more pertinently for the tournament, in the top 50 for RPI. That means the Big East is so strong this year that being five games below .500 in conference play is not necessarily a death knell for tournament hopes. That's amazing.