1. Villanova Wildcats (22-2, last week: same)
New week, same dominating performances for the Wildcats, who dropped Georgetown by 16 before going to the Dunk and beating the Friars on Wednesday. Villanova is a lock for the NCAA tournament and is now playing for not only seeding in the Big Dance, but respect among the NCAA's elite. The biggest test of their remaining regular season schedule this Saturday at Butler, who is a much better team than they were during their New Years Eve loss to the Wildcats. A win at Hinkle could be enough to secure at least a 2-seed for Villanova, barring a major setback.
2. Butler Bulldogs (18-6, last week: 3)
Butler is a couple possessions away from an eight-game winning streak, if not for an Isaac Copeland 3 in their last loss to Georgetown. They'll be nearly a month removed from that game when they welcome No. 6 Villanova to the Hinkle Fieldhouse this Saturday. Oh the Hinkle would've been a phenomenal cathedral to host an old-school, beat-em-up style Big East game. Well it's a new Big East, but rest assured this one will be as physical as you can get. Both defenses rank in the top 16 in efficiency, so get ready for a grind-it-out matchup between the conference's best.
3. Providence Friars (17-8, last week: 4)
The Friars were more than happy to see coach Ed Cooley on the sidelines for Wednesday's game against Villanova after Cooley left Saturday's game at Xavier because of exhaustion and dehydration. His presence couldn't help PC move past the Wildcats as they stopped Providence 74-68 last night. The Friars have the 22nd-best RPI in the country (thanks Kentucky!!!), but they've lost three out of four with games at Villanova and at home against Butler still left on the schedule. Still, Providence seems like they have a good shot at making the dance. Taking care of business this Saturday against a downward spiraling Seton Hall team is a start.
4. Georgetown Hoyas (16-8, last week: 2)
All eight of the Hoyas' losses have come against top-50 teams, and after suffering two straight losses to Providence and Villanova, Georgetown picked apart a Seton Hall team in disarray. Georgetown turned 15 Seton Hall turnovers into 27 points, earning a +16 in that category. DSR and Isaac Copeland are one of the best one-two tandems in the conference, both scoring 20 or more on the Pirates, and the Hoyas can be a stifling defense, holding The Hall under 30% shooting in the second half. Georgetown could be a sleeper team come tournament time.
5. Xavier Musketeers (16-9, last week: same)
Remember when I called Xavier the biggest enigma in the conference? Well yeah, falling to Creighton at home and then beating Providence by near-double digits supports that claim. But the Muskies boast a top-20 strength of schedule and a sweep of Georgetown. X also has a chance to score a solid late non-conference win next week against Cincinnati. Most experts have Xavier as a 9-seed in the NCAA tournament, and if Xavier wins the games it should (two vs. St. John's and at Creighton), then they'll be in the Big Dance. The intriguing part of their remaining schedule: two home games against Butler and Villanova that could give them a higher seed.
6. DePaul Blue Demons (12-13, last week: 7)
DePaul's been a great story this year, although it might be a little too early to say the Blue Demons are back. We'll save that for next year, you know, with our DePaul bias and whatnot. But their only shot at making the Big Dance is winning the Big East tournament, which is a long shot but stranger things have happened. DePaul has dropped five of their last six, but let's see if they can break some hearts heading into the Big East tournament. Three of their final five games come against Providence, Georgetown and Butler.
7. Seton Hall Pirates (15-9, last week: 6)
Where do we start? The Hall is mired in their second three-game losing streak of the last month, and after Brandon Mobley called his teammates out for not being on the same page, Sterling Gibbs and Isaiah Whitehead had to be separated during a timeout in Tuesday's loss, and just a day later comes the departure of Jaren Sina, finally worn out by the growing tension in the Seton Hall locker room. They've gone from among the first four in to one of the first four out, and with their next three games away from The Rock at Providence, Villanova and St. John's, The Hall has spiraled out of control, and if Kevin Williard can't figure it out quick, Seton Hall will find themselves out of the NCAA tournament, and possibly without a new coach.
8. St. John's Red Storm (16-8, last week: same)
The Johnnies picked up wins they were supposed to get: home victories against Creighton and DePaul. But the up and down season for Steve Lavin's boys continue at Xavier and Georgetown, two teams they will meet twice before the end of the month. With ESPN's Joe Lunardi naming St. John's as one of his final four teams in, now is the time to start getting hot and making a surge towards locking down one of those 68 spots in the tournament. Elsewhere, D`Angelo Harrison's 33 points against DePaul Wednesday were a season-high as the senior makes a late push for Big East Player of the Year.
9. Marquette Golden Eagles (11-13, last week: same)
Matt Carlino missed his second straight game with a concussion. Marquette could've used him as they shot under 35% from the field. A poor effort at home led to a 20-point loss to Xavier, and now MU travels to CenturyLink for a battle for last place with Creighton, who fell to the Eagles on a Carlino 3 at the buzzer. His status for Saturday is unknown, but if he can't go, it'll be a struggle to replace his scoring. He dropped 19 on the Bluejays in their last meeting.
10. Creighton Bluejays (11-14, last week: same)
Creighton will have a full week off before hosting Marquette at CenturyLink this Saturday. A well-rested Bluejays squad will be ready to go in one of the toughest environments in the Big East. Both teams are evenly-matched, but a team that has been known to shoot the lights out in previous years, Creighton will need to rely on their defense to pull off the win. The Jays hold opponents under 43% shooting in Omaha, and if they don't give up any easy baskets, the charity stripe could be their best friend, as Marquette shoots just 67% from the free throw line.