Instead of a preview of just tomorrow's Marquette-Butler Big East opener, we're going to take a swing through the whole conference to get a feel for what's been going on out there. You'll see a heading for each team with their current record and their RPI standing as of December 22nd as recorded by RPIRatings.com. Right below that is the major statistical leaders for each team, along with the best win for each team according to the RPIRatings.com list, and their worst loss, too.
If you're looking for how to keep tabs on Marquette tomorrow night, you should be able to get live streaming video and live stats from Butler right here.
Butler (5-6, RPI #106)
Points Leader: Darress McClung, 14.9 ppg
Rebounds Leader: Darress McClung, 7.8 rpg
Assists Leader: Taylor Schippers, 3.7 apg
Best Win: #119 Cleveland State, 85-69
Worst Loss: at #158 Indiana State, 62-56
Picked to finish seventh in the league, Butler's done nothing to convince anyone of otherwise so far this season. McClung is top 8 in both scoring and rebounding, and has shown she deserved preseason all-conference honors, though. Two straight overtime losses sent them on a four game losing streak early in the season, but they've rebounded to win four of their last six. That Indiana State loss was their last game, but McClung sat that one out to rest a foot injury heading into Saturday's tilt with Marquette.
Creighton (6-6, RPI #86)
Points Leader: Marissa Janning, 15.8 ppg
Rebounds Leader: Sarah Nelson, 6.3 rpg
Assists Leader: Marissa Janning, 3.7 apg
Best Win: #27 Minnesota, 63-52
Worst Loss: vs #250 Clemson, 56-52
Exactly the two names you expected to see leading the Bluejays, as both Janning and Nelson were preseason all-conference honorees. What you didn't expect to see was that record for Creighton. Yes, the team picked to finish second went out and challenged themselves this season, compiling a 3-3 record against top 100 competition. But they've also dropped some bad losses. There's that neutral site loss to Clemson in the Duel In The Desert, plus two road losses to 130+ teams in Drake and Kansas. CU will attempt to get their season moving in the right direction when they host Villanova on Saturday.
DePaul (8-3, RPI #42)
Points Leader: Megan Rogowski, 14.9 ppg
Rebounds Leader: Megan Podkowa, 6.7 rpg
Assists Leader: Chanise Jenkins & Brittany Hrynko, 5.4 apg
Best Win: vs #89 Washington, 73-66
Worst Loss: at #48 Northwestern, 82-79
Where Creighton scuffled while challenging themselves, the Blue Demons did it successfully. They went on the road at Notre Dame and Northwestern and hosted Kentucky, but suffered losses in all three. But they haven't dropped a game elsewhere, even if none of those games are terribly exciting from a resume perspective. Perhaps most impressively, they're incredibly balanced. Seven players have appeared in all 11 games, and nine players average 10 minutes a game. Five players average in double digits in scoring and seven average three or more rebounds per game. Hrynko and Jasmine Penny were the two all-conference honorees before the season started, but the stat columns are being topped by different players for the most part.
Georgetown (6-5, RPI #104)
Points Leader: Andrea White & Natalie Butler, 14.5 ppg
Rebounds Leader: Natalie Butler, 12.3 rpg
Assists Leader: Samisha Powell, 4.0 apg
Best Win: #49 Princeton, 66-64
Worst Loss: vs #110 Western Kentucky, 57-55
Hey, who fell asleep on Natalie Butler? The freshman center has been tearing it up for the Hoyas, and she wasn't even the most notable newbie on the team. That honor would go to preseason Rookie of the Year Shayla Cooper, who left the team after two games. Why, you ask? Well, that's still undetermined, as she started the first two games of the year, but I suspect it had something to do with Cooper throwing a shoe at a Richmond shot in Georgetown's opener. The Hoyas have had a dizzying season, with Cooper's departure following the resignation of head coach Keith Brown two weeks before the start of the season, but they've acquitted themselves nicely on the court, winning games they should (4-1 RPI 100+) and taking losses against top competition (four losses against RPI top 65 teams).
Marquette (9-2, RPI #112)
Points Leader: Katherine Plouffe, 18.1 ppg
Rebounds Leader: Katherine Plouffe, 11.0 rpg
Assists Leader: Brooklyn Pumroy, 5.4 apg
Best Win: at #44 Vanderbilt, 82-77
Worst Loss: #58 Wisconsin, 62-60
The other loss is to #2 Duke. The only possible troubling sign for Marquette this season is that both losses came at home. On the other side of the coin, Marquette won each of their last two games at home without all-conference star Plouffe, and with the exception of the first 6+ minutes against Oral Roberts, they were firmly in control of the games. Yes, the ORU game went to overtime, but that's a byproduct of that lousy start. The key to MU maintaining speed during Plouffe's absence was Arlesia Morse, who averaged 22 points in the two games while shooting 53%. She had a career high 28 against Denver and had six steals as well, and if Marquette has Morse and Plouffe both running high along with Katie Young (14/10/2), the Golden Eagles can be a force through the run of conference play.
Providence (5-5, RPI #189)
Points Leader: Tori Rule, 17.8
Rebounds Leader: Alexis Harris, 8.5 rpg
Assists Leader: Sarah Beal, 4.2 apg
Best Win: #185 Hartford, 79-53
Worst Loss: at #105 Drexel, 62-52
You could look at the raw results of Providence's season and think that their four game losing streak is just part and parcel of being a team down near #200 in the RPI. But all four losses were to top 85 teams. It doesn't make it better, of course, but at least they were challenging themselves along the way. Preseason all-conference player Tori Rule is averaging 18 & 3, so she's holding up her end. A possible long term problem for the Friars is their depth. They have 12 players on the roster, but only eight have seen action this season, and four of them are averaging over 30 minutes a game. Seven of those women have played in every game, and junior college transfer Karin Robinson has missed each of the last three games.
St. John's (6-4, RPI #52)
Points Leader: Aliyyah Handford, 20.9 ppg
Rebounds Leader: Aliyyah Handford, 7.5 rpg
Assists Leader: Aaliyah Lewis, 3.3 apg
Best Win: #45 Quinnipiac, 76-66
Worst Loss: at #144 Florida, 72-68
It's not listed as their best win of the season based on the RPI, but St. John's is coming off a last second home win over #24 Texas A&M right now. Handford scored the game winner on a lay up with 2.8 seconds remaining as part of her 27 point outing, her fifth 20+ point game of the season. The Red Storm have played seven games against top 100 competition and are 5-2 in those games. To give you an idea of how much St. John's struggles to share the ball on offense, take this into consideration: Lewis is ranked 13th in the Big East in assists, and averages just 0.3 assists more per game than Marquette's Cristina Bigica.
Seton Hall (8-2, RPI #125)
Points Leader: Tabatha Richardson-Smith, 20.8 ppg
Rebounds Leader: Sidney Cook, 11.6 rpg
Assists Leader: Ka-Deidre Simmons, 5.8 apg
Best Win: #177 Savannah State
Worst Loss: at #118 Illinois
The Pirates were picked to finish last in the Big East this season, and right now, they have the third best winning percentage in the league. Yes, they haven't beaten anyone of note, but both of their losses are to top 120 teams and both came on the road. Can't really fault them there. You can fault them for blowing a 20 point second half lead to the Illini, though. Richardson-Smith is just 0.1 points per game behind Aliyyah Handford for the league lead in scoring, and if Cook and junior transfer Bra'Shey Ali (11.2 rpg) had played in more games, they'd both be top three in the conference in rebounding. As it stands, Simmons is proving she deserved her preseason all-conference honors by leading the Big East in assists. I was tempted to leave her off my preseason all-conference team because the Pirates were lousy last year, even though she had the stats to back it up.
Villanova (9-1, RPI #31)
Points Leader: Devon Kane, 11.4 ppg
Rebounds Leader: Kavunaa Edwards, 6.4 rpg
Assists Leader: Caroline Coyer, 4.6 apg
Best Win: at #38 Temple, 59-58
Only Loss: #6 St. Joseph's, 63-60
This brings us to the current conference leader. Can't blame them for dropping a game to the #6 RPI team, even though it was at home. The game against St. Joe's was only their second this season against a Top 100 team, but the challenges have still been there for the Wildcats. They've only played two home games, picking up wins in three neutral site games and five road games. Head coach Harry Perretta is the longest tenured coach in the league, having been hired straight out of college in 1978, and he definitely seems to know what he's doing with this team. They don't have a top 20 scorer (Marquette has three) or a rebounder in the top 12 in the Big East (Marquette has two), but Coyer is fifth in assists. Marquette will host VU for their league home opener, and does anyone remember what happened the last time that Villanova was in the Al McGuire Center? I do!
Xavier (5-6, RPI #192)
Points Leader: Shatyra Hawkes, 14.7 ppg
Rebounds Leader: Jenna Crittendon & Leah Schaefer, 7.1 rpg
Assists Leader: Shatyra Hawkes, 3.5 apg
Best Win: at #72 Michigan, 79-75
Worst Loss: #324 Longwood, 67-64
Oh, Xavier. It's like you took offense to being picked in front of Seton Hall. Yes, that win at Michigan is nice. But how did you lose AT HOME to Longwood? (reads GoXavier.com recap) Oh, you gave up runs of 18-0, 10-3, and 12-3. Yeah, that'll do it. Sheesh. I'd try to say something nice about Hawkes, Crittendon, and Schaefer here, or even Ashley Wanninger, but then I remembered that you're the worst RPI team in the league and 2) y'all scored 0.42 points per possession en route to losing 47-26 to Cincinnati, including a borderline inexplicable 0.28 per possession in the second half, so I don't want to be nice any more.