by Doug Potter
In the Big East, one thing is for sure; there are no easy victories, no pushovers, and no games that ANY team can mark off as a win. That being said, like all conferences, the Big East has its power-houses (Pitt and UConn) and its weaker teams (South Florida and DePaul). This past week saw many great performances by teams as well as individual players. Here are some of them:
DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh)- Blair had 20 pts, 17 reb, 3 ast, 2 blk this past Saturday. The 6’7” 265 lbs sophomore forward may lack in size but he showed last weekend that his toughness is of abundance. His strong performance helped the still undefeated Pitt Panthers (14-0) thoroughly handle the young Georgetown Hoyas 70-54, which coupled with a North Carolina loss, now has his Panthers team at the top of the rankings.
Luke Harangody (Notre Dame)- The reigning Big East Player of the year has certainly picked up where he left off last year. In a 65-71 loss to St. John’s on Saturday, Harangody racked up 28 points and 14 rebounds and on Monday in a 73-67 win over Georgetown he had 31 points and 11 rebounds, which gives him nine double-doubles this year. He’s averaging 24.1 pts and 12.4 rebounds per game, which is up considerably from his season of a year ago (20.4 PPG and 10.6 RPG) so look for Harangody to continue to rack up the double-doubles and quite possibly a second POY award.
Scottie Reynolds (Villanova)- Talk about efficiency at its finest, Mr. Reynolds had 40 points on just 17 shots in Villanova’s 89-95 overtime victory over the Seton Hall Pirates on Tuesday. Reynolds helped his team improve its record to 13-2 and his 15-16 from the free-throw line helped contribute to the 18 straight his team had to end the game, a big part for why the Wildcats came out on top in a typical grind-it-out Big East conference game.
The Entire Big East- That’s right, don’t look now but the conference somehow continues to get stronger. The Big East now has nine teams in the top 25 AP Coaches poll. The conference continues to shine as they became the first conference to have seven teams in the pre-season polls, but on December 1st they became the first conference to have eight in the polls, just to increase that number to nine this past week. This could be the limit, however, as I don’t foresee any other teams cracking the top 25.
Pittsburgh Panthers- The Pitt Panthers not only defeated one of the hottest teams in the Big East in Georgetown by sixteen, but they just received the first #1 ranking in the polls in school history. With games versus St. John’s and South Florida coming up, it should stay that way for at least another week.
Marquette Golden Eagles- After stumbling out to an 8-2 start, the Eagles are on a roll and it started last Thursday when they defeated a good Villanova team 79-72. After a 34-point victory over Cincinnati and a hard fought road win at Rutgers, Marquette is now sitting at 14-2 and 3-0 in the Big East.
The Week Ahead:
No games are scheduled for Thursday or Friday, but the weekend has a trio of intriguing games in store for us.
#21 Louisville @ #17 Villanova- 12 pm
#22 West Virginia @ #15 Marquette- 12 pm
#9 Syracuse @ Rutgers- 7:30 pm
#13 Notre Dame @ #21 Louisville- 7 pm