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Big East Power Rankings: Week Eight. Villanova on top once again

Villanova is back atop the polls while DePaul continues its ascension in the Big East ranks.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
1. Villanova Wildcats (15-1, last week: 2)

Villanova responded to their first loss of the season with back-to-back routs of a slumping St. John's team and a streaking DePaul squad. In the process, coach Jay Wright moves past 300 career wins at Villanova after his win over the Red Storm on Tuesday. Nova moves into the top-5 of the AP and Coaches poll after a crazy weekend shook up the polls. Only two other programs rank in the top-15 of both Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Efficiency: Kentucky and Virginia.

2. Seton Hall Pirates (13-3, last week: 1)

The Hall stumbled in their loss at Xavier and nearly succumbed on the road to Creighton if not for Sterling Gibbs late 3-pointer to lift the Pirates over the Jays. Despite a less-than-stellar week, the polls are still giving Seton Hall some love at No. 21, thanks in part to their defense. They rank 32nd in the country in Effective Defensive FG% (43.6), and have held opponents to 26.4 percent on 3-pointers this season, which should bode well with one of the best 3-point shooters coming to Jersey tonight in Kellen Dunham and the Butler Bulldogs.

3. Providence Friars (13-4, last week: 6)

Kris Dunn is one of the top point guards in the Big East. Dunn scored 20 of a career-high 25 points in the second half to hold off a Butler comeback, and with scoring 14 points, eight in overtime, in the Friar's victory over Georgetown. Replacing Bryce Cotton was no easy tasked, but Dunn has filled the role well. For as great as he is giving offenses fits (he's one of the best in the nation in steals), he's a great floor general, currently the best in the country in assist rate (50.7). It'll be interesting to see how he performs this week against two teams that are pretty good at protecting the rock in St. John's and Creighton.

4. Butler Bulldogs (12-5, last week: same)

Butler's traded wins and losses this conference season, following a close loss with Providence with a double-digit win over Xavier. The Bulldogs had some balance in the win over the Musketeers; all five starters scored in double figures, they dominated X on the boards, 37-26. But Kellen Dunham was cold, going 2-for-8 from the floor. With Butler heading to New Jersey to play one of the better defensive programs in the country, they'll need more production from Dunham if they plan to squeak out a victory.

5. Georgetown Hoyas (10-5, last week: 3)

Early foul trouble again proved to be the Hoyas' achilles heel as they were dropped in overtime at Providence last weekend. Joshua Smith has been tremendous, scoring 15 points and 12 rebounds in the loss, and leading an offense that ranks 14th in the nation in Offensive Rebound Percentage (38.4%). But the rest of the team shot 33% against Providence's zone defense, the third straight game the Hoyas saw a zone D. They'll continue to see more of the zone until they prove to be effective against it.

6. DePaul Blue Demons (9-8, last week: 8)

The Cinderella story of the Big East, DePaul has jumped out to a 3-1 conference record thanks to some great play from Billy Garrett, the inclusion of transfer Myke Henry and the emergence of Forrest Robinson and Jamee Crockett. Robinson got the start against Marquette, and served as a dominant presence on the wing for DePaul, highlighted by a 20-point game at Creighton, draining five three's in the first six minutes. Winning your first three conference games are cool, but sustained success is how you get a postseason invitation. The Blue Demons have two home matchups this week with Georgetown and St. John's to help push their case for a postseason bid.

7. Xavier Musketeers (11-5, last week: same)

Xavier is, by far, the greatest enigma in the Big East. They've beaten two ranked teams by double-digit margins at home, only to lose bad road games to Long Beach State, DePaul and Butler. A trip to Philly to face Villanova won't make it any easier for the Muskies, where the Wildcats have lost just one game in the last 23 months. We know Xavier can score; they match up well with Villanova in a number of offensive categories. The key to victory will be buckling down on defense and stifling a great Nova offense.

8. St. John's Red Storm (11-4, last week: 5)

St. John's early conference season woes continue after an 0-3 start to the 2015 Big East season. This is considered to be the Johnnies' best chance to return to the Big Dance in years, but they've missed out on quality wins over Gonzaga, Seton Hall and Villanova, with a road trip to Nova to finish off the year and a home contest with Duke on the horizon. St. John's is still a tournament team for now, but sooner or later this team will need to have a sense of urgency and make a run if they want to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

9. Marquette Golden Eagles (9-6, last week: same)

Luke Fischer went 6-for-6 for 13 points while battling foul trouble in Marquette's loss to Georgetown. As Fischer gets more games under his belt, expect for him to rise to the upper echelon of Big East centers. Meanwhile, Wojo is hitting the recruiting trail hard in the months leading to Signing Day, persuing 2015 three-star shooting guard Ricky Council to pair with 2016 four-star point guard Daquan Bracey. Another recruit Woj is going after is 2015 big Henry Ellenson, who put up a ridiculous stat line: 39 points, 18 rebounds, 11-23 FG, 5-7 3PT, 12-14 FT. You can sign on the dotted line anytime now, Mr. Ellenson.

10. Creighton Bluejays (9-8, last week: same)

Creighton came within seconds of upsetting Seton Hall before Gangsta Gibbs sent the Bluejays to their first five-game losing streak since 1997, and their sixth loss in the last seven games. Creighton played a solid game without leading scorer Austin Chatman for most of the contest and sharpshooter Isaiah Zierden for the entire second half. But James Milliken, back to suspension, filled in well with 20 points, and Will Artino adding a double-double in a career-high 35 minutes. Both Chatman and Zierden are expected to return for Wednesday's game at Marquette, but center Zach Hanson may be a no go with a bum shoulder.