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Villanova’s ruled the new Big East; but is Creighton No. 2?

Villanova’s ruled the new Big East; but is Creighton No. 2?

Jon Nyatawa discusses the Jay's matchups this week after a much needed break.

Creighton’s win over Marquette earlier this month marked its 79th regular season victory over a Big East opponent since joining the league in 2013.

Why is that number significant?

It’s the second-highest total in the conference.

The Jays’ 71-68 win at Marquette on Feb. 6 moved them ahead of Xavier for second place in total regular season league wins.

A few games have been played since then. So the tally now reads like this, as of Monday: Villanova (112), Creighton (81) and Xavier (79). Providence (77) and Seton Hall (76) are close behind.

Again, that’s regular season only.

CU does still trail Xavier (87-86) for second if you include the Big East tournament results in that win total summation. And indisputably, the Musketeers have enjoyed FAR greater success in the NCAA tournament — Creighton’s managed just one NCAA win in seven seasons while Xavier’s had separate Sweet 16 and Elite Eight runs.

But examining recent trends, and considering what could be in store for the Jays next month, I do think it’s appropriate to start wondering about something now…

Is Creighton the second-most successful program within the new Big East?

Obviously, Villanova’s No. 1. The Wildcats have two national titles, six regular season championships, four Big East tournament crowns and a .824 winning percentage against league opponents. Dominance. The throne belongs to Villanova, without dispute.

Who’s next, though?

You could argue that Creighton’s standing in this discussion, perhaps more than any other contender for the No. 2 spot, has the greatest potential to change by season’s end.

BE table.jpg

The Jays still have a chance at a Big East regular season title and they’ll be one of two clear favorites in the league tournament. And then there’s March Madness. One deep NCAA tournament run could help CU address the most glaring flaw since its 2013 arrival on the major-conference scene (poor March showings).

So maybe we should revisit this topic in April.

In this sport, the NCAA tournament has a tendency to completely rewrite narratives. That might not be entirely fair, given the unpredictability of a single-elimination event. But this is how college hoops works. You’re defined by what you do in March.

That’s mostly why, as of today, I’d take Xavier’s eight-year resume over the rest of the non-Villanova teams’ achievements in the new Big East.

But it’s closer than it used to be.

Creighton’s in the middle of an incredible ascent toward the top of the college basketball hierarchy, a rise that never seemed remotely possible 10 years ago. The milestones keep piling up. Records are being rewritten.

The pandemic did rob the Jays of an opportunity to put a stamp on the 2020 season with a memorable March run. That places all the responsibility on this year's squad to boost the program's reputation on the biggest stage.

Because a dip is coming. That’s just the natural cycle of things in this sport.

Connecticut’s rejoined the Big East — contending with Villanova AND another college hoops blue blood won’t be easy over the next few years. Plus, St. John’s and Georgetown appear to be on the rise. Xavier has a good young core.

It could be that the Jays’ dropoff lasts only one year. Or maybe that top 15 recruiting class can lessen the blow of expected departures and help keep CU within the Big East’s upper-half.

One could assume that Creighton’s incoming group of freshmen, as it grows, has the potential to elevate the Jays to even greater heights — if CU’s relevancy were charted on a line graph over the last decade, you’d see that it’s peaked each time a roster nucleus has matured (2014, 2017 and 2020/2021).

We’ll see what the future holds.

To this point, though, Creighton’s been one of the best teams in the Big East since joining the league. No. 2 overall, perhaps.

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