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Big East Power Rankings: Week Three. Villanova holds the top spot

Butler and St. John's are climbing, but Villanova maintains its position at No. 1.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
1. Villanova Wildcats (8-0, last week: same)

Nova blew past two of their Philadelphia Big 5 opponents - La Salle and St. Joseph's. The Wildcats are, by far, the most well-coached team in the Big East, but that will be put to the test tomorrow in the 20th anniversary of the Jimmy V Classic, where they're matched up against an Illinois team that appears to be back on the rise under 3rd-year man John Groce. Dylan Ennis continues to look like one of the most improved players in college basketball, averaging. 12.3 points a game.

2. Georgetown Hoyas (5-2, last week: same)

The Hoyas took care of Towson to get back in the win column last week. D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera is an early-season candidate for the Naismith Award; he netted 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting in yesterday's non-conference win. Joshua Smith has been a force inside, scoring efficiently and driving a Georgetown defense that held Towson to 17 first-half points. If John Thompson III can get that same output against a talented opponent in Kansas, the Hoyas will be in good position to pull of the upset at the Verizon Center.

3. Butler Bulldogs (7-1, last week: 4)

Butler keeps winning tightly-contested games, fending off a late surge by Northwestern to improve to 7-1. Kellen Dunham is a primary reason why the Bulldogs are rising in the Top 25 ranks; he sits fifth in the Big East in points per game and seventh in 3-point percentage. Chris Holtmann's team is solid at attacking the rim and getting points inside the paint, outscoring Northwestern 38-20 in the key. Butler's finding a good balance on offense in time, which works in their favor as they get ready for bouts at home with Kennesaw State and in Knoxville against the Vols.

4. St. John's Red Storm (6-1, last week: 8)

The Johnnies notched their first win at Syracuse in 15 years when they stormed through the Orange at the Carrier Dome. Phil Greene IV had a dominant second half, hitting three of his four 3-pointers in the closing minutes of Saturday's game. D`Angelo Harrison's game-high 24 points and 4-of-6 from deep gave the Red Storm the boost they needed to move to 6-1 and up four spots in our latest ranking. But St. John's, undersized at the beginning of this young season, has been impressive on defense so far. Chris Obepka is second in the conference in rebounds per game (9.6) and terrorized the Syracuse offense in their 12-point victory.


5. Seton Hall Pirates (7-0, last week: 6)

The Hall didn't even score the biggest win by a Jersey team this week - thanks NJIT! But the Pirates still laid a beatdown against in-state rival Rutgers. Isaiah Whitehead scored a career-high 25 points, 5 assists and 4 boards, leading Seton Hall on a 45-19 run to end the first half, sealing the fate of the Scarlet Knights early to snag the first-ever Garden State Hardwood Classic title. The top prospect is starting to come into his own with The Hall after a tough start, who takes an undefeated record into Wichita State for their biggest road test of the young season.

6. Xavier Musketeers (6-2, last week: 5)

The Muskies got back on the right track this week, trouncing Alabama to move to 6-2. Xavier's versatility down low was key in Saturday's win. With Matt Stainbrook, the conference leader in field goal percentage (.727), in foul trouble early, Chris Mack turned to Jalen Reynolds and Sean O'Hara, and continuously wore down Alabama's front court. Following a home game with IUPUI Tuesday, Xavier travels to CoMo for some matinee action with the Mizzou Tigers, always a tough environment for opponents.

7. Providence Friars (6-2, last week: 3)

Providence dropped their second-straight on the road at Boston College, in front of a crowd that, at times, felt like they were at the Dunkin Donuts Center. The Friars shot a gaudy 39.3 percent against a defense that's ranked 110th in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and 133rd in Effective Field Goal Percentage Allowed. The Big East scoring leader LaDontae Henton (19.8 ppg) had another poor output offensively, going 4-for-16 from the field. He'll have an opportunity to find his shot this week with the Friars welcoming in-state rivals Brown and Rhode Island.

8. DePaul Blue Demons (6-1, last week: 10)

DePaul is 6-1. I repeat: DePaul is 6-1! The Blue Demons are off to their best start in 21 years after annihilating Milwaukee for their fourth straight victory. Myke Henry has found new life in his hometown, leading DePaul with 17 points per game, good for fourth in the conference. But the energy Oliver Purnell's crew has shown on defense has opened some eyes around the conference. The Blue Demons are building some confidence before their conference schedule hits, which could be the spark they need to rise from the basement of the Big East for the first time in seven years.

9. Creighton Bluejays (7-2, last week: 5)

The Bluejays maintained their dominance of the state of Nebraska this week with their fourth-straight win over the Cornhuskers. Coming out of a loss at Tulsa where inconsistency plagued the Jays, the defense played exceptional and their bench scored in bunches, outscoring Nebraska 30-8. Austin Chatman was named to the Big East Honor Roll this week after a 19 point, 7 rebound, 6 assist performance in Lincoln. Chatman is happily taking over Doug McDermott's top role this season. It would be wise for Greg McDermott to keep feeding him the rock.

10. Marquette Golden Eagles (4-4, last week: 9)

Marquette went ice cold against the Badgers Saturday, enduring multiple scoring spells of 6 minutes or more in their 49-38 loss to Wisconsin. Matt Carlino was the only Golden Eagle to score in double figures, dropping 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. On the glass, Wisconsin overpowered Marquette, winning the rebounding battle 41 to 29, including 14 offensive rebounds. Good news? They have a whole week off before the debut of 7-foot transfer Luke Fischer against Arizona State.