West Virginia

A stunning home loss to in-state rival Marshall on Wednesday deflated some of the Final Four hype that surrounded West Virginia in recent weeks. Their first top-10 ranking in 24 years lasted only a week, as the Mountaineers fell to No. 11 in the latest poll. They have yet to suffer a conference loss, however, and sit alone atop the Big East standings at 6-0, despite a close call at St. John’s. On Sunday, West Virginia let a 13-point lead over the Red Storm dwindle to two in the final minutes before senior forward ike Gansey sealed the game by making both his free throws with 3.1 seconds left, and the Mountaineers left Madison Square Garden with a 66-61 victory. West Virginia returns home to take on Notre Dame tomorrow.

Connecticut

The Connecticut Huskies won their first game as the nation’s top-ranked team on Jan. 25, taking care of St. John’s 66-50 at home. The victory did not come without a price, however, as Connecticut freshman forward Jeff Adrien was ejected for fighting with St. John’s junior forward Aaron Spears. In accordance with NCAA rules, Adrien sat out against Providence on Jan. 28, despite an appeal to the suspension from Connecticut Head Coach Jim Calhoun. Even with Adrien’s absence on the boards, the Huskies turned in a dominating rebounding performance in their 76-62 victory over the Friars on Saturday. Connecticut notched 47 total rebounds, 21 of which were on the offensive glass.

Cincinnati

Despite early buzz surrounding the program, the Bearcats have faltered recently. Cincinnati faced key games against then-No. 22 Louisville last Wednesday and against then-No. 21 Georgetown on Saturday, but were dominated in both games, losing by 17 points to Louisville and by 19 points to Georgetown. In both games the Bearcats looked sluggish on offense, shooting season-low percentages from the field and yielding season-low scoring outputs. Overall now, the Bearcats have lost five out of their last six games and are a middle-of-the-pack Big East team. The lone bright spot was senior forward Eric Hicks, who scored 15 points and pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds against the Cardinals and scored 13 points to go along with his 9 rebounds against the Hoyas. The rest of the Bearcats now need to rally around Hicks to win tough conference games against Big East teams or else the team is headed to the NIT.

Marquette

Marquette, with a 5-3 record in the Big East (15-6 overall), is continuing to make its mark on the league after almost upending then-No. 12 Pittsburgh on the road Saturday night. Against Pitt, arquette was up 19-7 midway through the first half, and continued to lead until the Panthers tied it up at 58 with six minutes left. U was unable to regain the lead and fell, 77-71. Earlier in the season, Marquette toppled then-No. 2 Connecticut and boasts other league wins against DePaul, Seton Hall and Notre Dame. Recently, though, the team has been hurt by an ankle injury to leading scorer and rebounder senior Steve Novak, who was held to just eight points on Saturday. Novak is ranked 11th in the Big East in scoring, with 15.9 points per game. Freshman guard Dominic James has also had a huge impact on the team, and is ranked 16th in the Big East with 15.1 ppg. Behind these two scores, Marquette leads the Big East in three-point shooting percentage (40.5 percent), and the Golden Eagles are the only conference newcomer with a winning record. They will take on a scrappy St. John’s team tomorrow at home.

Pittsburgh

A then-No. 12 Pittsburgh team faced a rough game against arquette Saturday night as the unranked Eagles jumped out to an early 8-0 lead, and kept the pressure on to take the Panthers into halftime leading 40-33. But in the second half Marquette could not keep their momentum, as Pittsburgh’s experience and talent, along with stifling defense, propelled them to the lead, taking the game by six. The Panthers benefited from two 10-0 runs in the second half, and they kept the Eagles from getting into an offensive rhythm. With the win, Pittsburgh moves to 17-1 overall and 6-1 in the Big East, good enough for third place in the conference behind top-runners West Virginia and UConn. Next week is an important one for the No. 9 Panthers, with a game Tuesday at No. 1 UConn. Pitt then visits No. 17 Georgetown on Sunday for a game with serious implications for two of the top Big East teams.

Syracuse

Then-No. 24 Syracuse continued its nosedive on Saturday, losing to unranked Seton Hall on the Orange’s home court. The game was close throughout, with the score tied at 59 in the waning minutes. But back-to-back threes from Seton Hall guards Jamar Nutter and Donald Copeland put the game out of reach for the Orange, who have now lost their last four games after winning 12 in a row. During the losing streak Syracuse has not gotten the expected production from senior point guard Gerry McNamara, who missed nine 3-pointers in the latest loss. The setback is sure to knock `Cuse from the top 25 and it also pushes Syracuse’s Big East record under .500 at 3-4. Now unranked, the Orange’s next two games are at Rutgers (who beat then-No. 23 Louisville on Saturday) and No. 1 UConn next weekend. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim brings his team to the Hilltop on Feb. 25.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.