The Road to Omaha for the Big East Crown
1. Creighton (15-8, 0-0, #81 RPI)
Creighton boasts the best non-conference record in the Big East thus far. Playing in the cavernous TD Ameritrade Park - home of the College World Series and the 2015 Big East Tournament - the Bluejays have a 8-3 home record, with a clean sweep over Stetson and a series win (3W 1L) over Utah Valley. The Bluejays were victim to a combined no-no against Minnesota in the opening series in their home ballpark and hardly showed up to a visit down to New Orleans, dropping 2 of 3 against Tulane. A recent test against No. 18 Nebraska proved to be a downward turn to their recent spell of success (10 of their last 11), but the Bluejays are hot going into their first conference series against Georgetown (4/2-4/4)
2. St. Johns (12-10, 0-0, #154 RPI)
St. Johns was able to get into quite a few non-con tournaments, including the Atlanta Challenge - where they faced a litany of talent in perennial powerhouse Georgia Tech and 2014 Super Regional squad Kennesaw State. The Red Storm traveled to Eugene to face Oregon and ended up getting swept by the Ducks. St. Johns had 9 games postponed or cancelled, thus leaving us with a few question marks on their true talent going into Big East play, which they begin at Butler this week (4/2-4/4).
3. Seton Hall (12-10, 0-0 #162 RPI)
Scheduling ACC power North Carolina to open the season may have been a bit too ambitious for the Pirates, not because they got swept and lost each game by 4+ runs, but because even in a perfect world they don't come close to matching up with the Tarheels. After getting swept by South Florida, Seton Hall got hot and went 10-1 in their last 11, dropping their only game to a very good UConn squad. Seton Hall starts conference play in Cincinnati against Xavier (4/2-4/4).
4. Georgetown (12-12, 0-0, #169 RPI)
Georgetown started the season off extremely cold. The Hoyas went 3-8 in their first 11, losing to George Washington twice and lowly Illinois State in a one-game series. This was a pretty common trend with the top five teams of the Big East - lose a bunch of games to start the season, then getting inexplicably hot. George town went 9-4 in their next 13, evening them at .500 to begin conference play. Speaking of conference play, they host Creighton to start it off (4/2-4/4).
5. Butler (12-15, 0-0 #228 RPI)
Alright, yeah, Butler lost their first 8 games to begin the season, but the competition was pretty stiff. Lipscomb, Pepperdine and Louisville batted past the Bulldogs with relative ease, and losing a series to East Tennessee State wasn't exactly what Steve Farley had in mind to start the year off. The Bulldogs, much like the rest of the Big East ballclubs, bounced back and won 9 straight games, including a sweep of the Boilermakers of Purdue. A loss to Indiana State cut down their momentum, but the Bulldogs will look to keep their winning ways alive heading into their Big East opener hosting St. Johns.
6. Villanova (8-14, 0-0 #279 RPI)
There's no easy way to say this, but Villanova's baseball team is not good. Their signature win thus far on their schedule is against North Dakota State. They got absolutely shelled by NC State and Notre Dame. The Cats seem unable to get good contact on the ball - unless they're playing Mount St. Mary's (a team that has won 2 games thus far) and their pitching has been sub-par. The Wildcats luckily don't start conference play until April 10th when they host Georgetown, so perhaps they can notch a few W's against Lafayette, St. Joes and Bryant. If they can't gain any momentum, I suspect they'll be dwelling in the cellar.
7. Xavier (8-20, 0-0 #168 RPI)
2014 Big East Champs! Banners! Trophies! Now, they start at the bottom of the barrel. A bit ambitious with their scheduling after battling to the steal the Big East crown from the Bluejays and earn the only Big East NCAA bid in 2014, the Musketeers lost a whole lot of games to a few good squads. Swept by Louisville? Completely understandable. Getting swept by Auburn? Those guys get to practice in the south, totally not fair. Getting swept by Northern Kentucky? Oh, well, there's always next year? The Big East tournament only selects the top four teams to compete for the crown, and based off the non-con losses to sub-par opponents, the Musketeers will need a miracle to reprise their championship. They begin the conference season against Seton Hall at home (4/2-4/4).
A more in-depth look at individual teams and players will be available to you wonderful people as the season progresses. As volatile as baseball tends to be, I feel after the first week of conference play we'll be able to get a better picture of what exactly we've got here. It's just too broad at the moment, especially with the amount of rainouts/snowouts/frozen fields that have caused cancellations.