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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Torch Sports’ 2023-24 Men’s Big East Basketball Power Rankings: Week One

The Conference’s opening week featured big victories and multiple setbacks.
Torch Design / Sean Bertolini

Big East basketball is back in action as teams embark on their opening games of the 2023-2024 season. This week saw remarkable success for the conference, with all teams but one securing a victory. Here is a list of The Torch Sports’ Men’s basketball Big East Conference power rankings for the season’s inaugural week. 

1. Marquette (2-0)

Pre-season National Ranking: 5

The Marquette Golden Eagles began their season at home vs. Northern Illinois on Nov. 6, securing a 92-70 victory. Reigning Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek led the team with 20 points and three assists, displaying a dangerous three-point shot. The team saw other players producing impressive stats, with junior guard Kam Jones and senior forward Oso Ighodaro boasting 20 and 13 points, respectively. 

The team hosted their second game of the season on Nov. 10, triumphing vs. Rider University, 95-65. Jones tallied 23 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals in a standout performance. The former Big East Champions led the entire game, showing endurance and proficient shooting. However, Kolek suffered an ankle injury with just eight minutes remaining and did not return. 

With the Golden Eagles’ schedule increasing in difficulty, the team must adjust to potentially losing Kolek. This will be answered when Marquette returns on Nov. 14 at No. 25 Illinois (2-0). 

2. Creighton (2-0)

Pre-season National Ranking: 8

In their home opener on Nov. 7, the Creighton Blue Jays slaughtered the Florida A&M Rattlers, 105-54. The game was dominated by crucial performances from junior guard Trey Alexander and Baylor Sheiermann, each putting up double-digit figures. Altogether, the team made 18 three-pointers and led the entire night. However, only 10 guys played due to injury. 

Against North Dakota State on Nov. 11, Creighton outscored the Bison 89-60. After North Dakota State led early in the first half, the Bluejays fought for the lead for the entire half. The second half saw a new side of the team, filled with standout performances by Alexander (21 pts., seven reb.) and senior center Ryan Kalkbrenner (13 pts.)

The Bluejays face their first real challenge of the season on Nov. 14 when they face the University of Iowa (2-0). 

3. UConn (2-0)

Pre-season National Ranking: 6

The reigning national champion Huskies have gotten off to a roaring start this season, winning their first two games by at least 40 points. Sophomore Alex Karaban led the way in their Nov. 6 home opener against Northern Arizona, tallying 22 points on an extremely efficient 8/12 from the field. UConn’s sophomore center Donovan Clingan, who has been nursing a foot strain since late September, added another 12 points and five rebounds in just 15 minutes of action. The Huskies ultimately won the contest 95-52, taking care of business against an inferior opponent. 

UConn’s second game of the season followed a similar trend, with the Huskies coming out on top 107-67 vs. Stonehill College. Senior guard Tristen Newton led all scorers with 22 points, connecting on four of his seven three-point attempts. Once again on a minutes restriction, Clingan finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds. 

Expect the Huskies next contest vs. Mississippi Valley State (0-2) to follow the same trend, with UConn not facing a truly competitive opponent until their Nov. 19 matchup at Indiana (2-0.) 

4. Villanova (2-0)

Pre-season National Ranking: 22

The Wildcats opened their season with a victory over American University on Nov. 6, 90-63. After a rocky first half, a second-half swell allowed the team to extend to big margins. Senior forward Tyler Burton and redshirt senior forward Eric Dixon led the team with 15 points, with transfer Lance Ware giving the team key rebounds and blocks off the bench. 

The team improved their record to 2-0 after an 83-57 victory over Le Moyne on Nov. 10. Suffering from yet another rocky first-half start, Villanova shot 37% from the field in the game’s beginning minutes. The team found their groove going into the second half, with a tactful defense and an impressive three-point shooting display. Moore, Burton, Brendan Housen and TJ Bamba put up double-digit figures and proved the team’s quick chemistry. 

Kyle Neptune’s Wildcats are back in action vs. Penn (2-1) on Nov. 13. 

5. St. John’s (1-0)

Pre-season National Ranking: N/A

In the Red Storm’s first game under new head coach Rick Pitino, St. John’s displayed why they should be a serious contender in the Big East this season. Led by team captain Joel Soriano’s 22 points and 11 rebounds, the Red Storm knocked off Stony Brook in their Nov. 7 home opener 90-74. Harvard transfer Chris Ledlum added 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Iona transfer Daniss Jenkins also contributed 17 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds, nearly securing a triple-double. The final score was not indicative of how close the game really was, with Pitino opting to get some of his younger players more experience after the game was already put away. 

Ahead of their Nov. 13 matchup with Michigan (2-0) at Madison Square Garden, the Red Storm will have to clean things up on the offensive end, after they committed 15 turnovers against Stony Brook. 

6. Providence (2-0)

Pre-season National Ranking: N/A

The Friars opened their season with a Nov. 6 win over Columbia, 78-59. With Providence under new leadership, head coach Kim English will be looking to prove he belongs in the Big East in year one. The Friars were led by junior forward Bryce Hopkins, who produced 14 points and 10 rebounds on an inefficient 4-13. While Providence finished the game shooting 49.2% from the floor, their ability from beyond the arc (26.1 from three) was a liability for the entirety of the game. 

Providence got this number up (32.3% from three) in their second matchup of the season, where they took down Milwaukee 79-69. Sophomore guard Jayden Pierre led Providence with 16 points and five assists, while George Mason transfer Josh Oduro added another 13 points and 12 rebounds. Hopkins had yet another poor shooting night, turning in 10 points on 2-9 shooting. With a more difficult matchup with Wisconsin (1-1) looming, the Friars will need Hopkins to find his stroke if they hope to continue their early-season success on Nov. 14.

7. Xavier (2-0)

Pre-season National Ranking: N/A

Despite a 2-0 start, the Musketeers have not displayed the dominance they did last season. In an unimpressive 77-63 win against Robert Morris on Nov. 6, sophomore Desmond Claude tallied a career-high 25 points on 10-17 shooting from the floor. After struggling in the beginning of the first half, Xavier went on an 8-0 run, and retained the lead for the remainder of the game. While they ultimately won the contest, allowing a Horizon Conference school to keep things close is not a recipe for success in the suddenly extremely competitive Big East. 

The Musketeers’ second game of the season offered more of a reason for optimism for head coach Sean Miller’s squad, as they easily dispatched of Jacksonville 79-56. Rice transfer Quincy Olivari led the way with 17 points, despite only shooting 3/9. The junior guard earned most of his points at the charity stripe, connecting on nine of his 10 free throw attempts. 

Xavier’s inefficiency from beyond the arc (7-29) could come back to bite them if they repeat this shooting output in their Nov. 13 matchup at third-ranked Purdue (2-0.) 

8. Seton Hall (2-0)

Pre-season National Ranking: N/A

The Pirates downed St. Peter’s University 70-59 in their home opener on Nov. 6. With standout performances from senior guard Kadary Richmond, the team backed their performance with impressive stats. Shooting 50% from the field and 43% from behind the arc, look to see how this team shoots as the season progresses. 

Seton Hall improved their record over Fairleigh Dickinson University Nov. 11, 85-55. Richmond led the team with 14 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Al-Amir Dawes contributed 13 points. The team shot 47% from the field this time, coupled with an impressive 61 rebounds.

The team hopes to continue their streak when they host Albany (1-1) Nov. 15. 

9. Butler (2-0)

Pre-season National Ranking: N/A

The Butler Bulldogs opened their regular-season slate vs. Eastern Michigan on Nov. 6, earning a 94-55 victory. In the second half alone, the team put up a stunning 60 points at Hinkle Fieldhouse. However, the team’s first half proved quiet after a 5-15 start from the field. In his first game for the Bulldogs, former St. John’s standout Posh Alexander put up 13 points and eight assists, while newcomer Jahmyl Telfort led the team with 18 points. 

The team continued their streak in a Nov. 10 win vs. Southeast Missouri State, 91-56. In another almost 100-point game for Butler, the team relied on newcomers to finish the job. Michigan State transfer Pierre Brooks also put up impressive numbers, scoring 14 points and adding five rebounds. 

The team hopes to continue their streak when they face East Tennessee State University (1-1) on Nov. 13. 

10. Georgetown (1-1) 

Pre-season National Ranking: N/A

Ed Cooley began his Georgetown tenure by leading the Hoyas to a commanding 94-57 victory over Le Moyne on Nov. 7. Senior forward Supreme Cook led the way for the Bulldogs, recording 19 points and 13 rebounds on 8/9 shooting. Junior guard Dontrez Styles added another 15 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. In an opening game which offered optimism for the lowly Hoyas, that optimism would not carry over into Georgetown’s second matchup of the season. 

On Nov. 11, in a home matchup with Holy Cross, the Hoyas shot a measly 36.1% from the field en route to a 67-68 loss. Georgetown’s backcourt of Jaylen Epps and Rowan Brumbaugh was the lone bright spot, with the guards combining for 39 points. While the Hoyas were not expected to be serious contenders in the Big East this season, losing to Holy Cross at home proves that Cooley could be in for a long first year at the helm. 

Georgetown will have an opportunity to right their wrongs in a tough environment when they travel to Rutgers (1-1) on Nov. 15.

11. Depaul (0-2)

Pre-season National Ranking: N/A

Depaul was the only Big East team to fall in their season opener against Purdue Fort Wayne, 72-84. Despite the loss, senior guard Chico Carter Jr. led the team in a career-high 18 points. The team shot 49% from the field despite a high turnover rate. Will this be enough for the last-ranked team in the conference?

On Nov. 11, the Blue Demons earned their second loss to the Long Beach State Sharks, 73-77. After scoring only 21 points in the first half, Depaul outscored the Sharks 52-40 in the second half alone. Ultimately, it was not enough for the Blue Demons to earn their first victory of the season. Sophomore guard Elijah Fisher scored an impressive 25 points in Saturday’s game, with 20 in the second half. 

The team continues their regular season slate vs. South Dakota (2-0) on Nov. 14.

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Kyler Fox
Kyler Fox, Managing Editor
  Kyler is a senior journalism student in his second year with The Torch serving as Managing Editor. Outside of The Torch, he is a contributor for A Daly Dose of Hoops and Last Word on Sport. When Kyler isn’t writing, you can find him catching up on the latest buzz surrounding the industry, playing basketball with his friends or checking out the latest sneaker drops. Kyler can be reached at [email protected].
Olivia Seaman
Olivia Seaman, Editor-in-Chief

Olivia is a senior journalism student currently serving as The Torch’s Editor-in-Chief. She previously served as Managing Editor for two years. She's also written for amNewYork, Bronx Times and QNS. Outside of The Torch, she is a student ambassador and an undergraduate writing consultant at the University Writing Center. She loves to watch St. John's Basketball, exploring New York City and matcha lattes!

Olivia can be reached at [email protected]  
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