Notre Dame (15-5, 7-2)

The Fighting Irish have taken over the top spot in the West Division after winning a team-record six straight conference games. ost recently No. 23 Notre Dame beat St. John’s 83-73 on onday, despite being down by 10 points in the second half. Junior forward Troy Murphy, the Irish’s consistent leader, scored 12 of his 34 points during a 26-2 run in the second half that helped the Irish come back. Murphy was 12 of 15 from the floor. Notre Dame’s 7-2 league record is their best start since they became a part of the Big East in the 1995-96 season. They travel to West Virginia on Sunday.

– Julie Wood

Syracuse (18-4, 6-3)

The Orangemen lost a crucial game to No.17 Boston College on Wednesday, dropping them to a tie with the Hoyas for second in the West Division. They have lost their last three conference matchups on the road. No. 7 Syracuse was down by 11 at the half, before junior guard Preston Shumpert knocked down three consecutive three-pointers and senior forward Damone Brown converted a three-point play to give the Orangemen their first lead of the game with 12 minutes to go. Shumpert scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half. They return home to face Seton Hall tomorrow.

– Julie Wood

Pittsburgh (12-9, 4-6)

Pittsburgh suffered two consecutive home losses this week to No. 20 Notre Dame, 75-67, and No. 15 Georgetown, 81-67. They have been plagued by injuries this season, and senior guard Ricardo Greer’s sore back didn’t help against the Hoyas. The Panthers were the first team to beat the Hoyas this season, but they couldn’t give a repeat performance of their 44 percent three-point shooting. Sophomore guard Brandin Knight led the Panthers with 20 points. Pittsburgh will be on the road for their next three games, facing West Virginia, Rutgers and Seton Hall….

– Julie Wood

West Virginia (12-7, 3-5)

West Virginia has lost two in a row to Pittsburgh and No. 15 Georgetown. Against Georgetown on the road, senior forward Calvin Bowman had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Hokies. Bowman is averaging 17.8 points per game…..

– Julie Wood

Seton Hall (12-8, 3-6)

Seton Hall has lost five of their last six games, including their most recent loss to Rutgers, the last team in the conference. The Scarlet Knights held freshman forward Eddie Griffin, who is second on the team in scoring with an average of 18.4 points per game, to a season-low seven points. The Pirates will look to get back on track as they face Syracuse tomorrow. They beat the Orangemen 77-65 on Jan. 21.

– Julie Wood

Rutgers (9-11, 1-8)

Rutgers reached a major milestone on Sunday when they got their first conference win of the season with a 70-64 victory over Seton Hall on the road. Senior forward Jeff Greer led the Scarlet Knights with 24 points on 10 of 14 shooting. Rutgers was down 54-37 in the second half before coming back. The Pirates shot just 29.6 percent from the floor. The Scarlet Knights will hope to continue their wining ways and move out of the basement of the Big East as they take on Pittsburgh at home on Sunday.

– Julie Wood

Boston College (17-2, 8-1)

The No. 17 Boston College Eagles are for real. They stand at the top of the Big East and have proven over and over that they have the talent and the poise to play with any team in the country. Their latest conquest came Wednesday night over No. 9 Syracuse, 65-63, in Boston. After sophomore guard Troy Bell stole a pass with the game tied at 58, senior guard Xavier Singletary hit a layup with 39.6 seconds remaining to clinch the win. BC is off to its best conference start and its best overall start since the 1966-67 squad, coached by former Boston Celtics Hall of Famer Bob Cousy, went 23-2 before losing in the NCAA Tournament. BC has now won five straight games since losing to No. 3 Duke three weeks ago and is undefeated at Conte Forum this season. Having already matched their win total from the past two seasons, they face a struggling Virginia Tech tomorrow before traveling to Connecticut to play the Huskies, whom BC beat by 17 in its Big East opener on Jan. 3.

– John-Paul Hezel

Providence (16-6, 7-3)

The Providence Friars head into tomorrow’s Parent’s Day match-up against the Hoyas on a sour note, losing on Tuesday to UConn, 83-68. The loss ended the five-game winning streak that had vaulted Providence into second place in the East Division. Despite the loss, the Friars remain one game ahead of St. John’s, which Providence defeated last Friday, 75-63. Although they are in a great position to make the NCAA tournament, the Friars face a tough schedule this week. They have Georgetown at home on Saturday (7 p.m.), a rematch with the Red Storm at St. John’s on Valentine’s Day and a meeting with the first-place Eagles at No. 17 Boston College next Friday. The Friars need to win at least one, more likely more, of these games to solidify their tournament chances.

– John-Paul Hezel

St. John’s (12-9, 6-4)

The cliche “there’s no place like home” applies to no Big East team like it does to St. John’s. After winning five out of six, the Red Storm have dropped their past two games to Providence and No. 20 Notre Dame, both on the road. Six of St. John’s nine losses this season have come away from home. Regardless of venue, phenom guard Omar Cook continues his superior rookie season, having recorded a double-double against the Irish with 24 points and 12 assists. The Red Storm seek to mend their road woes tomorrow at Miami (3:30 p.m., ABC) before hosting Providence on Wednesday.

– John-Paul Hezel

Connecticut (15-7, 4-5)

The Huskies snapped a losing streak, had a player suspended and broke an opponent’s winning streak all within five days. Last Friday, UConn ended a five-game skid by defeating conference newcomer Virginia Tech, 85-73. Senior guard Albert Mouring poured in a career-high 31 points, going a perfect 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. Tuesday afternoon, the school suspended sophomore guard Marcus Cox for what Head Coach Jim Calhoun called a team matter. Cox had averaged three points in 20 games for the Huskies. Tuesday evening, UConn dispatched Providence, 83-68, to halt the Friars’ five-game winning streak. Mourning scored 19 as the Huskies outscored Providence 29-9 over the last 12 minutes. “This is a significant win for us,” coach Jim Calhoun told the New Haven Register. “With seven to play, this one really makes me happy because we were together for this win.” UConn travels to Villanova tomorrow and hosts the No. 17 Eagles on Wednesday.

– John-Paul Hezel

Villanova (13-8, 4-5)

If only Shaq could shoot like Gary Buchanan. The Wildcats’ sophomore guard set a NCAA Division I record with 65 consecutive made free throws in Tuesday’s 80-51 win over Pennsylvania. Buchanan has connected on 73 of 74 foul shots this season, a .986 percentage. Senior guard Jermaine Medley added 22 points, including 5 of 6 from three-point range, while junior forward Michael Bradley added 21 points on 7 of 9 from the floor. Bradley’s 69.5 shooting percentage leads the nation. Villanova hosts UConn tomorrow, then heads to Washington, D.C. to face the Hoyas on onday, 7 p.m. at MCI Center.

– John-Paul Hezel

Miami (12-9, 4-6)

By virtue of an 86-61 victory over Virginia Tech Tuesday night, iami holds a two-game lead over the Hokies for the last Big East tournament berth from the East Division. The top six teams in each division make the postseason. Sophomore forward James Jones and freshman guard Darius Rice led five Hurricanes in double figures with 16 points each. Senior forward Dwayne Wimbley scored a career-high 13. The ‘Canes used a 20-6 run to close out the first half with a 37-26 lead, on the way to their most lopsided win of the 2000-01 campaign. Miami is 11-1 this season when leading at halftime. The ‘Canes have now won two in a row as they prepare for St. John’s tomorrow and Syracuse on Monday.

– John-Paul Hezel

Virginia Tech (8-13, 2-9)

The Hokies are one of only two Big East teams with single digits in the win column; Rutgers is the other. They fell to Miami by 25 on Tuesday and are now 1-11 this season when trailing at halftime. Tech has lost three in a row and eight of their last 10 with a home game versus No. 17 Boston College tomorrow. The Hokies sit in last place in the East Division and, unless they go on a remarkable winning streak, will likely miss the Big East tournament in their first year in the conference.

– John-Paul Hezel

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