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The last week in the Big East started off with a bang as West Virginia and Pittsburgh played an epic three overtime barnburner that ended with the Panthers winning 98-95.  The excitement continued throughout the week.  Sunday was upset day with Louisville beating Syracuse, Rutgers taking down Georgetown and St. John’s stealing a win at Notre Dame.  Monday saw Connecticut jump out of their doldrums with a solid 84-75 defeat of Villanova.  Wednesday was highlighted by Louisville surviving a 91-89 double overtime battle with Notre Dame.  An old school Big East rivalry was showcased on Thursday as Syracuse outlasted Georgetown 75-71. 

Here are my updated power rankings:

  1. Syracuse (12-2, 25-2) (L Lou 66-60, W @Gtwn 75-71)
  2. Villanova (11-2, 22-3) (W Prov 92-81, L Conn 84-75)
  3. Pittsburgh (9-4, 20-6) (W @Marq 58-51)
  4. West Virginia (9-4, 20-5) (W @Prov 88-74)
  5. Georgetown (8-6, 18-7) (L @Rut 71-68, L Syr 75-71)
  6. Louisville (8-5, 17-9) (W @Syr 66-60, W ND 91-89 2OT)
  7. Marquette (7-6, 16-9) (W USF 63-52, L Pitt 58-51)
  8. South Florida (6-7, 16-9) (L @Marq 63-52, W Cin 65-57)
  9. Cincinnati (6-7, 15-10) (W @Con 60-48, L @USF 65-57)
  10.   Connecticut (5-8, 15-11) (L  Cin 60-48, W @Vil 84-75)
  11.   Seton Hall (6-7, 15-9) (W Dep 79-71, W @St.J 59-50)
  12.   Notre Dame (6-8, 17-10) (L St.J 69-68, L @Lou 91-89 2OT)
  13.   Providence (4-10, 12-14) (L @Vil 92-81, L WVU 88-74)
  14.   Rutgers (4-9, 14-12) (W Gtwn 71-68, W @DeP 68-64)
  15.   St. John’s (4-9, 14-11) (W @ND 69-68, L SH 59-50)
  16.   DePaul (1-12, 8-17) (L @SH 79-71, L Rut 68-64)

Weekend Preview

Main Event
Villanova @ Pittsburgh, Sunday, 12:00 PM

Best Matchup
Marquette @ Cincinnati, Sunday, 2:00 PM

Upset Alert
St. John’s @ South Florida, Saturday, 12:00 PM

Rest of the Slate (in chronological order)
Seton Hall @ West Virginia, Saturday, 12:00 PM
Louisville @ DePaul, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Connecticut @ Rutgers, Saturday, 4:00 PM

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YouTube – Wes Johnson Dunk Against Depaul 1/30/10 AMAZING!.

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Impressively, the Big East goes into the weekend with five of the top 12 ranked teams in the RPI.  And with a third of the conference season behind us, it is now safe to say that we have a pretty good idea of where the teams stand.  Here are the teams as I currently rank them:

  1. Villanova (6-0, 17-1)
  2. Syracuse (5-1, 18-1)
  3. Georgetown (5-2, 14-3)
  4. Pittsburgh (5-1, 15-3)
  5. West Virginia (4-2, 14-3)
  6. Seton Hall (2-4, 11-6)
  7. Cincinnati (4-3, 13-6)
  8. Connecticut (3-3, 12-6)
  9. Notre Dame (3-3, 14-5)
  10.   Marquette (2-4, 11-7)
  11.   Louisville (3-3, 12-7)
  12.   Providence (3-3, 11-7)
  13.   St. John’s (2-4, 12-6)
  14.   DePaul (1-5, 8-10)
  15.   South Florida (1-5, 11-7)
  16.   Rutgers (0-6, 9-9)

Weekend Preview

Main Event
Texas @ Connecticut, Saturday, 4:00 PM
Any time you have a shot at the #1 team in the country it is a big deal.  Even if they’ve already lost once this week.  Connecticut is .500 in league play and has not been overly impressive.  They need to force turnovers and score in transition.  They really struggle to score in the half-court.  Stanley Robinson has taken his game to the next level and Jerome Dyson has been mostly steady.  This would be a huge win for the Huskies, but they’ll need a full team effort to get it.

Best Matchup
Ohio State @ West Virginia, Saturday, 2:00 PM
This will be a tough match up for West Virginia.  The Buckeyes have been hot since Evan Turner fully returned from injury.  He’s a threat for a triple double in every game.  Da’Sean Butler has led the Mountaineers to a strong record so far this season.  They could really use a signature win, having lost their three biggest tests – at Purdue, at Notre Dame and home against Syracuse.  West Virginia needs to hit the boards hard on offense and defense if they hope to pull it out.

Upset Alert
Pittsburgh @ Seton Hall, Sunday, 2:00 PM
The Panthers are coming off a home loss to Georgetown.  However, they do have spectacular road wins against Syracuse, Cincinnati and Connecticut.  Of course, coming into the season not a lot was expected from Pitt, but like usual Coach Dixon has his players giving  maximum effort.  The Pirates have had the most challenging Big East schedule in the league.  The are coming off an important home win over Louisville.  Seton Hall seems to have integrated Herb Pope and Keon Lawrence into their game after missing them earlier in the season.  You have to expect Pitt to be the favorite here but I would not be surprised of  Seton Hall gets the win.

Rest of the Slate (in chronological order)
Villanova @ St. John’s, Saturday, 12:00 PM
Villanova has been extremely impressive so far this season, led by Big East Player of the Year candidate Scottie Reynolds.  They currently have five players averaging double figures in scoring.  After showing early promise, St. John’s has struggled in league play.  They are working Anthony Mason Jr. back into the rotation.  I can’t see this one being close.

Rutgers @ Georgetown, Saturday, 12:00 PM
This game has blowout written all over it.  Rutgers has been awful.  Georgetown has steadied the ship after an early season loss to Old Dominion and is coming off a big win at Pittsburgh.

Marquette @ Syracuse, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Despite starting league play 1-3 Marquette had looked good.  The three losses came at West Virginia and twice to Villanova by a total of 5 points.  But this week they inexplicably lost to DePaul.  Lazar Hayward has led the Golden Eagles all season but he only had 14 points, all in the first half, against DePaul.  Syracuse has been one of the most impressive teams in the country.  They are coming off strong road wins at West Virginia and Notre Dame and should not have a lot of trouble handling Marquette.

DePaul @ Notre Dame, Saturday, 2:00 PM
Here’s another matchup that shouldn’t be very competitive.  DePaul can only hope that the Marquette win and some inspiration from interim coach Tracy Webster can carry over to this game.  While not in the upper echelon of the Big East, Notre Dame still has a quality team led by Luke Harangody (24.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg) and steady point guard Tory Jackson (5.7 apg).

South Florida @ Providence, Saturday, 8:00 PM
Providence is 3-3 in league play and has beaten all the teams they should and lost to all the teams you’d expect them to.  In their last effort, their leader Jamine Peterson was ejected early in a loss at Marquette.  South Florida has suffered while one of their best players, big man Gus Gilchrist, has been injured.  The Fryars still have a chance to have a decent season and need to win this one.

Cincinnati @ Louisville, Sunday, 12:00 PM
The key to this game will be the health of Cincinnati’s freshman sensation Lance Stephenson.  He sat out their Wednesday win over South Florida.  Louisville has three wins against the lower end of the league.  They don’t seem to have the talent they have had in the past.  If Stephenson plays, the Bearcats should have a good shot to win this game because the hard-pressing Cardinals defense should not bother Cincinnati senior point guard Deonta Vaughn as much as it will most others.  When Louisville has the ball the Cincinnati athleticism should keep Samardo Samuels in check.  If Stephenson misses the game, the Bearcats are not likely to find enough offense to win.

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