|Dion Waiters and Cuse out-dueled UConn on Saturday|
Gearing up for the conference tournament
By Shane McCarthy on February 27, 2012
1. #2 Syracuse Orange (29-1 / 16-1)
Last week: WON 56-48 vs South Florida, WON 71-69 @ Connecticut
This week: Sat, March 3 vs Louisville
The only semi-negative thing you can say about the Orange is that they have trouble putting together 40 minutes of the good basketball that they are capable of playing, but this team is 29-1, #2 in the country, have not lost with Fab Melo in the lineup, and always find a way to win. Being so deep and talented, there are only a handful of teams that can matchup with them barring an off-shooting night.
2. #7 Marquette Golden Eagles (24-5 / 13-3)
Last week: WON 82-65 vs Rutgers, WON 61-60 @ West Virginia
This week: Wed, Feb 29 @ Cincinnati; Sat, March 3 vs Georgetown
Part of me wants to power rank Marquette #1, but that's difficult to warrant without an Orange loss. They are playing at a very high level right now, as was on display Friday night when the Golden Eagles beat West Virginia without DJO, Blue and Cadougan playing the first half. I would like to see this team get another shot at Syracuse in the Big East Tournament.
3. #12 Georgetown Hoyas (21-6 / 11-5)
Last week: LOSS 73-55 @ Seton Hall, WON 67-46 vs Villanova
This week: Mon, Feb 27 vs Notre Dame, Sat, March 3 @ Marquette
The Hoyas slipped up at a desperate Seton Hall team in the middle of the week, but they recovered nicely with a decisive win at home over Villanova on Saturday. They aren’t the most talented team offensively, but they wreak havoc on the defensive end. They will be a tough team to prep for on short notice.
4. #18 Louisville Cardinals (22-7 / 10-6)
Last week: LOSS 60-56 @ Cincinnati, WON 57-54 vs Pittsburgh
This week: Wed, Feb 29 vs South Florida; Sat, March 3 @ Syracuse
The Cardinals haven’t been playing their best basketball as of late, but they are still a talented team that can stay on the floor with anyone. They get a desperate South Florida team and another shot at Syracuse this week to garner some momentum heading into the Big East Tournament.
5. #19 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (20-9 / 12-4)
Last week: WON 71-44 vs West Virginia, LOSS 61-58 @ St. John’s
This week: Mon, Feb 27 @ Georgetown; Fri, March 2 vs Providence
After reeling off nine straight victories, the Irish faltered at St. John’s over the weekend. As poorly as they shot the ball and as little involved that Jack Cooley was, it was encouraging that they only lost by three. They are in for a tough game at Georgetown on Monday night, but they are more than capable of winning.
6. Connecticut Huskies (17-11 / 7-9)
Last week: WON 73-70 OT @ Villanova, LOSS 71-69 vs Syracuse
This week: Tue, Feb 28 @ Providence; Sat, March 3 vs Pittsburgh
Tough loss at home to Syracuse, but it was encouraging to see them come back from 17 down in the second half. They could be the most talented team in the conference if they could display more cohesiveness and showed some controlled urgency on the court. I do not think anyone would be surprised if the Huskies won the Big East Tournament in two weeks. Maybe the return of Coach Calhoun will bring the spark they need.
7. Cincinnati Bearcats (20-9 / 10-6)
Last week: WON 60-56 vs Louisville, LOSS 46-45 @ South Florida
This week: Wed, Feb 29 vs Marquette; Sat, March 3 @ Villanova
After Sunday’s loss at South Florida, the Bearcats are probably back on the bubble. Cincinnati is a tough team to figure out as they have been incredibly inconsistent all year long. They have a tough matchup in Marquette this week, but a win will put them firmly back in the tournament.
8. West Virginia Mountaineers (17-12 / 7-9)
Last week: LOSS 71-44 @ Notre Dame, LOSS 61-60 vs Marquette
This week: Tue, Feb 28 vs DePaul; Sat, March 3 @ South Florida
Very tough loss at home on Friday night to a short-staked Marquette team. Coach Huggins should probably put a limit on the number of shots Truck Bryant is allowed to take per game. Once he sees a few go through the bucket, he’ll shoot a trillion times if he could. They have two favorable matchups this week to get back on the right track, but they have work to do.
9. South Florida Bulls (18-11 / 11-5)
Last week: LOSS 56-48 @ Syracuse, WON 46-45 vs Cincinnati
This week: Wed, Feb 29 @ Louisville; Sat, March 3 vs West Virginia
Well, for the first half of the first half it looked as if South Florida was going to take down Syracuse, but come to find out, winning the first 10 minutes of a basketball game is worthless unless you win all 40. Their bounce-back win [and their first notable win at that], over Cincinnati had the feel of a tournament game as both teams knew the importance of it. More work is probably needed by the Bulls and they will get that chance at Louisville this week.
10. Seton Hall Pirates (19-10 / 8-9)
Last week: WON 73-55 vs Georgetown, LOSS 77-72 OT vs Rutgers
This week: Sat, March 3 @ DePaul
All that Seton Hall needed to do after getting that noteworthy win over Georgetown, was not take a bad loss; which meant not losing at home to Rutgers. Of course, however, that is exactly what they did. DePaul is an absolute must win this week and a win in the Big East Tournament may be a necessity at this point.
11. Pittsburgh Panthers (15-14 / 4-12)
Last week: LOSS 57-54 @ Louisville
This week: Wed, Feb 29 vs St. John’s; Sat, March 3 @ Connecticut
The disaster season for Pitt continues as they have now lost five in a row. I’m not sure what they were thinking when they were down three at L’ville with 13 seconds left going for a two, fouling, and ultimately giving themselves less time to tie the game with a three point desperation heave. Nonetheless, this team is still putting up a fight and possesses talent. It’s highly unlikely, but I suppose they could somehow pull it together in time for the Big East Tournament.
12. St. John’s Red Storm (13-16 / 6-10)
Last week: WON 79-72 vs DePaul, WON 61-58 vs Notre Dame
This week: Wed, Feb 29 @ Pittsburgh; Sat, Feb 3 @ Rutgers
St. John’s is a fun team to watch right now as they have been playing better basketball as of late, taking down UCLA and Notre Dame in the past two weeks. Moe Harkless has to be the frontrunner for Big East Rookie of the Year and he has his team poised for an upset in the Big East Tournament.
13. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (13-16 / 5-11)
Last week: LOSS 82-65 @ Marquette, WON 77-72 OT @ Seton Hall
This week: Thu, March 1 vs Villanova; Sat, March 3 vs St. John’s
Rutgers played spoiler role at Seton Hall over the weekend and their season finale matchup with St. John’s this week should be a fun one. Both teams are talented, just raw, but it makes for entertaining basketball.
14. Villanova Wildcats (11-17 / 4-12)
Last week: LOSS 73-70 OT vs Connecticut, LOSS 67-46 vs Georgetown
This week: Thu, March 1 @ Rutgers; Sat, March 3 vs Cincinnati
You know you are having a rough season when one of your starters, JayVaughn Pinkston, comes down on a ball after dunking in warm-ups and turns his ankle. It’s almost over Villanova, two more weeks.
15. Providence Friars (14-15 / 3-13)
Last week: WON 73-71 @ DePaul
This week: Tue, Feb 28 vs Connecticut; Fri, March 2 @ Notre Dame
Providence handled DePaul to get out of the Big East basement on Saturday. For a team that is 3-13 - you have to appreciate the little things.
16. DePaul Blue Demons (11-17 / 2-14)
Last week: LOSS 79-72 @ St. John’s, LOSS 73-71 vs Providence
This week: Tue, Feb 28 @ West Virginia; Sat, March 3 vs Seton Hall
The Blue Demons have lost 13 of their last 14. Not really much else to say besides that they have been competitive in their last three games.