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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 Two

Annual tournament outcomes cause a shake-up in the top three.
Torch Design / Sean Bertolini

With regular season play in full swing, this week in the Big East saw dramatic losses and surprising victories. This week’s Torch Sports’ Men’s Basketball power rankings saw key shifts in the second week of play. Here’s a comprehensive ranking of week two.

1. Marquette (3-0)

AP National Ranking: 4

Last Week: No Change

The Marquette Golden Eagles continued their winning streak against No. 23 Illinois (4-1) in the Gavitt Tip-Off Games on Nov. 14, 73-64. Despite initial concerns over a twisted ankle, senior Tyler Kolek put up 23 points, six rebounds and four assists. His stellar play was complemented by the impressive contributions of senior forward Oso Ighodaro, who notched 13 points and eight rebounds. Shooting 44% from the floor and tallying 38 rebounds against the Fighting Illini, this team has proven they have the defensive and offensive capabilities to make it far in the Conference. Look for this team to improve with every game they play, building to the strengths of their overall great play. 

 

Shaka Smart and the Golden Eagles travel to Honolulu, HI for the Allstate Maui Invitational, facing off against undefeated UCLA (3-0) on Nov. 20.

2. UConn (3-0) 

AP National Ranking: 5

Last Week: 1 ↑

The Huskies made quick work of their first true test of the young season, easily handling Indiana at Madison Square Garden, 77-57. Senior guard Tristen Newton and senior guard Cam Spencer combined for 41 points, as Sophomore center Donovan Clingan continues to make his defensive presence known. UConn held five-star Indiana freshman forward Mackenzie Mgbako to only two points, forcing him to miss all of his three shots. Head coach Danny Hurley has his guys playing better than anyone in the country, leading to an undefeated start. UConn will show fans who they really are in the next few weeks, as they have matchups with No. 15 Texas (4-0) and No. 1 Kansas (4-0) among their next four contests.

The Huskies travel to the Moody Center to take on the Longhorns on Nov. 20.  

3. Creighton (4-0)

AP National Ranking: 8

Last Week: 1 ↓

The Bluejays have advanced to a four-game winning streak after this week’s Gavitt Tipoff Games. Creighton began the tournament facing off against Iowa (3-1), securing a 92-84 win. In an impressive performance, junior guard Trey Alexander put up a season-high 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. After a tie score at the half, Creighton exploded, thanks to Alexander, senior center Ryan Kalkbrenner (13 pts.) and senior guard Baylor Scheiermann (17 pts.) 

On Nov. 18, the team impressively downed Texas Southern University (0-4), 82-50. Scheiermann and Alexander made dropping 20-plus points look easy, tallying 23 and 20 respectively. On the defensive end, Kalkbrenner put up 10 rebounds and four blocks, while Alexander had eight assists and seven rebounds. At the half, the Bluejays left 47-27, thanks to 11-0, 14-5 and 11-2 runs. In the second half, that lead grew to almost double. 

The team travels to Kansas City, MO, to compete in the Hall of Fame Classic, facing off Loyola Chicago (2-2) on Nov. 22 and either Boston College (4-1) or Colorado State (4-0) on Nov. 23. 

4. Villanova (3-1)

AP National Ranking: 22

Last Week: No Change

In a week filled with surprising Big East upsets, Villanova started their second week of play falling to 3-2 UPenn, 76-72 on Nov. 13. Despite an impressive 25 point output from senior guard Justin Moore, the Wildcats were unable to contain the Quakers backcourt. Freshman guard Tyler Perkins put up 22 points in 36 minutes of action, taking down the 22nd ranked team in the nation in just his fourth career game. 

The Wildcats were able to get back on track in a home contest against Maryland on Nov. 17. Villanova remained in control for the entirety of the game, ultimately winning 57-40. Senior forward Tyler Burton led all scorers with 15 points, 10 of which came in Villanova’s dominant first half. Despite cooling down in the second, the Wildcats never allowed Maryland an inch of breathing room, forcing the Terrapins to an ugly 24% from the field. 

Kyle Neptune and his squad travel to the undefeated Texas Tech (3-0) on Nov. 22. 

5. Providence (4-1)

AP National Ranking: N/A

Last Week: 1 ↑

The Providence Friars now hold a 4-1 record after participating in the Baha Mar Hoops Bahama Championship. After a hard-fought battle vs. Kansas State (3-2), the team faced a narrow defeat in overtime on Nov. 17, 70-73. Junior guard Devin Carter tallied a team-high 19 points, while junior forward/guard Bryce Hopkins delivered a standout performance with a double-double. 

Seeking redemption after a tough loss, the Friars defeated Georgia (2-3) in the championship’s consolation game, 71-64. Carter once again put up a team-high 19 points, with 11 rebounds and five assists this time, recording his first double-double of the season. Graduate guard Josh Oduro contributed to the Friars’ win, scoring 19 points, nine rebounds and two assists. 

The Friars are set to face Lehigh University (1-3) at home on Nov. 24. Looking to restart a winning streak, the team hopes to secure a victory on their home turf.

6. St. John’s (3-2)

AP National Ranking: N/A

Last Week: 1 ↓

The Red Storm faced a handful of challenges this past weekend in the Charleston Classic, as head coach Rick Pitino and company continue to search for their identity. In their first game of the tournament, St. John’s had a defensive battle with North Texas (3-2), prevailing over the Mean Green 53-52. Graduate guard Daniss Jenkins led the way with 17 points, as senior center Joel Soriano recorded yet another double-double on the young season.

The Red Storm’s second game of the tournament posed challenges for the newly-constructed roster, as they fell to Dayton (3-2) 88-81 in the semifinals, despite leading for the majority of the game. Joel Soriano had a monster showing, tallying 21 points and nine rebounds. A frustrated Pitino took to the post game press conference to express the importance of individual scouting. 

Whatever Pitino told his players heading into their final game in Charleston worked, as St. John’s looked the best they have all season during their Sunday matchup with Utah. The Red Storm had five players in double figures as Nahiem Alleyne (10 points on 4-6 shooting) provided a spark off the bench. Three starters (Jenkins, Jordan Dingle, and Chris Ledlum) all scored at least 15 points, downing the Utes 91-82.

The Red Storm will look to build on their newly found momentum in a home matchup with Holy Cross (2-4) on Nov. 25 at Carnesecca Arena. 

7. Xavier (3-2)

AP National Ranking: N/A

Last Week: No Change

The Musketeers split evenly at the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas, putting up a respectable fight in their first matchup of the weekend, as they eventually fell to No. 2 Purdue (3-0) 83-71. Xavier’s interior defense was putrid, as they conceded 28 points and 11 rebounds to the 2023 National Player of the Year, Zach Edey. Sophomore guard Desmond Claude led the Musketeers with 15 points on 6/11 shooting, showing signs of maturity in his second collegiate season.  

Claude once again scored in double figures in Xavier’s consolation matchup with St. Mary’s, where they destroyed the Gaels 66-49. In addition to Claude, senior guard Quincy Olivari and senior guard Dayvion McKnight also recorded at least 10 points, powering the Musketeers to a much-needed win. 

Xavier will face Bryant (2-3) at home on Nov. 24, which should prove to be another test for head coach Sean Miller coming off of Bryant’s massive victory over No. 10 FAU (2-1).

8. Seton Hall (4-0)

AP National Ranking: N/A

Last Week: No Change 

The Seton Hall Pirates now boast a 4-0 record after impressive victories against Albany (1-3) and Wagner (1-3). Against Albany, the Pirates outscored the Great Danes 96-71. Demonstrating exceptional offensive prowess, the team shot an impressive 62% from the field and held a lead for over 35 minutes. This performance resulted in the highest scoring total for the Pirates in four years. Senior guard Al-Amir Dawes led the charge with 15 points, followed by senior guard Kadary Richmond and senior center Jaden Bediako. 

In their encounter with Wagner, the Pirates triumphed 72-51. Despite a lower shooting percentage (51%), Dawes once again played a pivotal role for the Pirates, putting up 19 points. Defensively, the team totaled 44 rebounds, outsourcing and out-defending on all fronts. 

Looking ahead, the Pirates face their first real challenge of the season against No. 23 USC (3-1) on Nov. 23 the Rady Children’s Invitational in San Diego. 

9. Butler (3-1)

AP National Ranking: N/A

Last Week: No Change

Thad Matta and the Butler Bulldogs faced mixed results this week, after the team annihilated East Tennessee State (2-2), but fell to No. 18 Michigan State (3-2). 

In their third-straight 30-point win, Butler outscored their opponent 81-47. The team shot an impressive 45% percent from the field, with their largest lead being 41 points. The defense forced ETSU into 19 turnovers, capitalizing this with 19 points. FFive Bulldogs put up double-digit scoring, with senior guard guard DJ Davis leading the charge with 15. On the defensive end, senior forward Jahmyl Telfort and graduate center Jalen Thomas combined for 12 rebounds. 

The Bulldogs fell to No. 18 Michigan State, 54-74, on Nov. 18 as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. In their first loss of the season, the Spartans’ strong defense and the Bulldogs measly shooting percentage (29%), contributed to the loss. Telfort and junior guard/forward Pierre Brooks II each put up a respective 15 and 13 points, but it wasn’t enough for the win. 

The team travels to Orlando, FL this week to participate in the ESPN Events Invitational against No. 19 Florida Atlantic (2-1).

10. Georgetown (3-2) 

AP National Ranking: N/A

Last Week: No Change

As the Hoyas continued to look unimpressive against lesser opponents, Georgetown was able to pick up two close wins in the second week of the season. In a home matchup with Mount St. Mary’s (1-2) junior guard Dontrez Styles continued his early season tear. Gashing the Mountaineers for 26 points on 8/15 shooting, Styles powered the Hoyas to a 83-72 victory.

Georgetown extended their win streak to two in the second game of a back-to-back home stretch, defeating American University (2-3) in overtime 88-83. Styles continued his hot streak, tallying 22 points on 8/18 shooting, but it was sophomore guard Jayden Epps who stole the show. Epps recorded a career-high 31 points on 11-22 shooting, fueling the Hoyas’ triumph against the Eagles. 

Georgetown continues their seemingly light start to the season in their third consecutive home matchup, taking on Jackson State (1-5) on Nov. 25. 

11. Depaul (1-4)

AP National Ranking: N/A

Last Week: No change

The Blue Demons continue to struggle the most of all Big East teams, as they now face a two game losing streak after falling to South Carolina (4-0) and San Francisco (3-2) in the Arizona Tip-Off. DePaul never led in their matchup with South Carolina, keeping things close but ultimately losing 73-68. Senior guard Chico Carter Jr. did all he could to keep the Blue Devils in the game, but his 24 points would prove not enough.

Following what could be considered a moral victory, DePaul laid an egg against San Francisco, as this contest was never close. Carter Jr. and senior forward Da’Sean Nelson tallied 15 apiece, but the Blue Devils could not overcome their 36.2% shooting percentage as they got blown out 70-54

As DePaul continues to search for answers, they will spend their Thanksgiving break at home when they take on Northern Illinois (4-1) on Nov. 25.

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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, 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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