We’ve got a new clubhouse leader in the Big East. Georgetown winds its way to the top of the standings thanks to its ability to do the one thing no other team in the country can -- be consistent. The Hoyas have won six in a row and eight of their past nine, an impressive accomplishment during a roller-coaster season both nationally and in the Big East.
1. Georgetown. Feel free to throw darts at their lack of offense. The Hoyas will laugh all the way to the top of the league rankings, which is where their defense has taken them. The Big East leader in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense rides a six-game win streak into a Friday night game against Cincinnati. It may not be pretty but Georgetown’s way is effective.
2. Louisville. There was more Russ and less "diculous" against St. John’s and that, as often is the case, was the difference for the Cards in their win. This Louisville team isn’t complicated, even when guard Russ Smith is. When he makes good decisions, the Cardinals are in good shape. When he doesn’t, they’re in five overtimes.
3. Syracuse. The Orange couldn’t shoot and couldn’t stop the Huskies. That’s a bad combination that turned into a loss in the last league meeting between the two rivals. It also proved that though Syracuse is better with James Southerland in the lineup, it remains flawed.
4. Pittsburgh. Looking for a league sleeper? Look right here. The Panthers have won seven of their past eight, riding superb defense along the way. Not one of their past three opponents has cracked the 60-point threshold. Talib Zanna and Tray Woodall form a terrific inside-outside combo and freshman Steven Adams is starting to come into his own.
5. Marquette. The Golden Eagles remain something of a show-me team in this league. They have a nice record but it has been built heavily on the undercard of the Big East. The last three good teams Marquette has faced -- Cincinnati, Louisville and Georgetown -- have beaten the Golden Eagles. Anxious to see how they fare against rising Pittsburgh.
6. Notre Dame. I’m still not quite sure how the Irish and Jerian Grant got out of regulation against Louisville, let alone won in five overtimes. I’m also still not sure why they’ve twice needed overtime to beat DePaul. Consequently I’m still not quite sure what to make of Notre Dame and, yes, it’s February.
7. Connecticut. Kevin Ollie might deserve the league’s coach of the year honors. He not only has managed to keep the Huskies relevant, he has managed to keep them vibrant in a season with little to play for. UConn beat Syracuse in the final Big East meeting between the two schools, their fifth win in six games.
8. St. John’s. A difficult week for the Red Storm. Head coach Steve Lavin left the team to say goodbye to his beloved father, Cap, just as St. John’s was set to face Syracuse and Louisville in back-to-back games. Losses aside, the future looks brighter for this young team.
9. Cincinnati. The Bearcats ended a two-game slide with a defensive win against Villanova but will have to up that defensive intensity against Georgetown. The offense continues to run through Sean Kilpatrick which, for now, is a good thing. He’s carrying the load well.
10. Providence. We’ve learned this season to not get too caught up in any one trend; winning streaks inexplicably turn into losing streaks. That said, there seem to be some good things happening for the Friars, who have won three in a row. They’re getting scoring from different players, defending well and making comebacks. All good signs for a team that might just be about to turn the corner.
11. Villanova. Are the Wildcats a bubble team? That’s the question of the moment. The easy answer: One good week does not a tournament résumé make. Villanova still hasn’t proved its back-to-back wins against Louisville and Syracuse weren’t just a fluke. A win against Connecticut this weekend would help.
12. Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights ended their six-game skid and beat their rival. All good, right? Uh, no. Beating Seton Hall doesn’t exactly move the needle. Rutgers now has wins against South Florida, which has one Big East victory, and the Pirates, who have two. Feel free to break out the champagne.
13. Seton Hall. The Pirates had a players-only meeting after the loss to Rutgers. They might want to involve a few of their priests, especially with Marquette and Louisville on tap.
14. DePaul. The Blue Demons have won exactly one game in the Big East in 2013, and that was way back on Jan. 5. Otherwise it has been a never-ending string of L's on the schedule. The Blue Demons played Notre Dame to overtime (again) and that’s nice. Winning one of them might have been nicer.
15. South Florida. Somehow the Bulls this week are scoring even less than they were last week, dropping from 320th to 321st in scoring offense. How they beat Georgetown may rank with the Sphinx of Giza as one of the world’s greatest wonders.