Frank Becerra Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK

After a quiet stretch for college hoops in NY/NJ, we are back…hopefully.

COVID surges have done a number on the local college hoops scene. Iona-Seton Hall was one of the first games to fall by the wayside and tons of other games followed. It’s been more than two weeks since Seton Hall or Rutgers played, St. John’s isn’t far behind, and Iona couldn’t find anyone to play.

With the COVID pauses and the holidays, there was no need to release a Power Rankings or a Metro Player of the Week last Tuesday.

Regardless, let’s dive into Power Rankings, Metro Player of the Week, and local games to watch.

Big East Power Rankings

  1. Seton Hall (Record: 9-1, Big East Record: 0-0) +/- +2
  2. Villanova (8-4, 1-1) -1
  3. Xavier (11-2, 1-1) +1
  4. UConn (10-3, 1-1) -2
  5. Providence (11-1, 1-0) 0
  6. Creighton (9-3, 1-1) +2
  7. Marquette (8-5, 0-2) -1
  8. St. John’s (8-3, 0-0) -1
  9. DePaul (9-1, 0-0) +1
  10. Butler (7-4, 0-0)
  11. Georgetown (6-5, 0-0) 0

Thankfully, the Big East came to its collective senses and scrapped the COVID forfeit rules.

Seton Hall would have multiple conference losses on its ledger if not for this decision. Even though the Pirates haven’t played in a while, they still deserve the top spot. They are the highest-ranked Big East team in the AP Poll

Villanova has four losses, but they aren’t going anywhere. They have the highest NET ranking of any Big East School, followed by UConn, Xavier, Seton Hall, and Providence.

Speaking of the Friars, is Providence for real? They are 3-1 in Quad 1 games and appear to be in a good position to make a run at the NCAA Tournament.

St. John’s is the biggest disappointment of the Big East season thus far. Their loss to Pittsburgh puts them in a precarious position when it comes to making the NCAA Tournament. They have a ton of work left to do before their fans can even think about the bubble.

MAAC Power Rankings

  1. Iona (Record: 10-2, MAAC Record: 2-0) +/- 0
  2. Monmouth (10-3, 2-0) 0
  3. Fairfield (8-5, 2-0) 0
  4. Quinnipiac (6-4, 1-1) +1
  5. Manhattan (8-3, 1-1) +1
  6. Marist (6-5, 1-1) +1
  7. Siena (4-6, 1-1) +2
  8. Saint Peter’s (3-6, 1-1) -4
  9. Niagara (5-6, 0-2) -1
  10. Rider (4-8, 0-2) 0
  11. Canisius (4-9, 0-2) 0

There isn’t much to say about the MAAC that we didn’t know a few weeks ago. Iona is still the class of the conference with Monmouth as their top competition.

Don’t sleep on Fairfield either. The Stags are 15-10 since Jan. 16 of last season. It appears as if their second-half surge was a sign of things to come.

Saint Peter’s continues its free-fall after losing by two to Siena. They were one of the favorites in the conference before the season started, but they haven’t been able to find their rhythm yet.

Metro Hoops Player of the Week

This was always going to be a MAAC player considering the fact that St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Rutgers have all been on extended pauses.

Jao Ituka led Marist to two wins, including a 34-point outburst against Boston University. Ituka is one of the most interesting young players in the MAAC. He’s been the best sixth man in the conference so far this season. It’s instant offense whenever he steps on the floor for the Red Foxes.

ESNY’s Metro CBB Player of the Week:

Local Games This Week

Wednesday, Dec. 29

Seton Hall @ Providence — 7 p.m. ET

Thursday, Dec. 30

Rutgers vs. Maine — 1

Friday, Dec. 31

Iona vs. Siena — 1
Monmouth vs. Marist — 1
Saint Peter’s vs. Canisius — 2
Quinnipiac vs. Niagara — 2
Fairfield vs. Manhattan — 2

Saturday, Jan. 1

Seton Hall vs. Villanova — 2
Rutgers vs. Central Connecticut — 5

Sunday, Jan. 2

Fairfield vs. Iona — 1
Quinnipiac vs. Rider — 1
Marist vs. Saint Peter’s — 2
Siena vs. Canisius — 2
Manhattan vs. Niagara — 2

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.