By: David Kay
1. Syracuse: 11-1, 24-1 (Last Week Ranking: 2)
‘Cuse has rattled off 11 wins in a row. While Wesley Johnson gets most the hype as a future NBA’er and possible All-American selection, Andy Rautins is really the most valuable player on this team. His leadership, three-point shooting, defensive ability, and versatility are key to the Orange’s success. When he was forced to the bench against UConn because of foul trouble, the Huskies were able to get back into the game. Rautins is the perfect example of a glue guy.
Up Next: vs. Louisville (Sun), at Georgetown (Thur)
2. Villanova: 10-1, 21-2 (LWR: 1)
It is a good thing this team can light up the scoreboard because they are a pretty poor defensive team as they have allowed at least 70 points in every Big East game this season. I am starting to think ‘Nova could be vulnerable in the tourney. If they have a poor overall shooting performance and can’t D’ up against a hot opponent, the Wildcats could be an early out.
Up Next: vs. Providence (Sat), vs. UConn (Mon)
3. West Virginia: 8-3, 19-4 (LWR: 3)
The Mountaineers got 6-9 Turkish freshman Deniz Kilicli (pictured above) eligible last week after he was forced to sit out the first twenty games this season. For a team lacking a true inside presence, his addition could be a major boost as he becomes more acclimated to the college game. By the way, he looks like he doesn’t shower on a regular basis or should be playing a bad guy in the next Die Hard movie.
Up Next: at Pitt (Fri), at Providence (Wed)
4. Georgetown: 8-4, 18-5 (LWR: 4)
Talk about a team that’s hard to figure out. They whip Duke, lose at home to South Florida, and they drop 103 points on ‘Nova. I am terrified of having to figure out how deep this team will go in the tournament when I am filling out my brackets. By the way, Greg Monroe had 12 assists Tuesday against Providence. That is why he is so unique as a big man and will be a very valuable player to whichever team drafts him.
Up Next: vs. Villanova (Sat), at Providence (Tues)
5. Pitt: 7-4, 18-6 (LWR: 5)
A 25-point win against Seton Hall last weekend helped get Pitt back on track after dropping four of five. They did a great job of shutting down the dangerous Jeremy Hazell and proved that they are truly a defense-first team.
Up Next: vs. West Virginia (Fri), at Marquette (Thur)
6. Marquette: 6-5, 15-8 (LWR: 7)
As hard as they tried to piss away a road game at Providence, Marquette won their second straight game that came down to the wire and has put together four straight wins to insert themselves firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble. One of the keys for the Golden Eagles down the stretch; either Maurice Acker or David Cubillan to score in double digits each game. (Enjoy the Valentine’s Day greeting from Joe Fulce)
Up Next: vs. South Florida (Sat), vs. Pitt (Thur)
7. Louisville: 6-5, 15-9 (LWR: 6)
Rick Pitino’s name has emerged as possible candidates to take over as the Nets’ head coach. Of course, Pitino denied those rumors and he NEVER lies so I am totally going to believe him.
Up Next: vs. Syracuse (Sun), vs. Notre Dame (Wed)
8. Notre Dame: 6-6, 17-8 (LWR: 8 )
In our weekly installment of “I hate Luke Harangody”, my voodoo doll must have worked as Harangody injured his knee in the second half against Seton Hall and tried to return but finished the game on the bench. (Cue up Dr. Evil laugh)
Up Next: vs. St. John’s (Sun), at Louisville (Thur)
9. South Florida: 5-6, 15-8 (LWR: 10)
A three-point loss at Notre Dame last weekend snapped the Bulls’ four-game win streak. Good news for USF though; big man Augustus Gilchrist is expected to return Saturday against Marquette after missing the past 15 games with an ankle injury. His return would give the Bulls a formidable duo down low along with Jarrid Famous to compliment Dominique Jones on the wing.
Up Next: at Marquette (Sat), vs. South Florida (Tues)
10. Cincinnati: 5-6, 14-9 (LWR: 9)
The bubble is far from burst, but if Cincy drops both road games this week against teams both in need of wins to help their NCAA Tournament chances, you can firmly push that needle in the bubble.
Up Next: at UConn (Sat), at South Florida (Tues)
11. UConn: 4-7, 14-10 (LWR: 11)
Jim Calhoun will return to the bench this weekend and maybe that will be the spark the Huskies need to put a late-season run together. If you take away their upset victory of then top-ranked Texas, UConn is 0-5 against ranked teams. They are also 0-6 in true road games this season.
Up Next: vs. Cincinnati (Sat), at Villanova (Mon)
12. Seton Hall: 4-7, 13-9 (LWR: 12)
I would not want to see this team in the Big East Tournament if I was one of the top ranked teams. When Jeremy Hazell is gunning from the outside and the rest of team is chipping in, they are tough to beat.
Up Next: vs. DePaul (Sun), at St. John’s (Wed)
13. Providence: 4-8, 12-12 (LWR: 13)
After a soft schedule to start Big East play, their rough stretch has caught up to them as they have dropped four in a row. With ‘Nova, West Virginia, and Syracuse their next three opponents, that streak will likely stretch to seven. By the way, how dumb is their home arena’s name, “Dunkin Donuts Center?” Not exactly the most intimidating place to go play at.
Up Next: at Villanova (Sat), vs. West Virginia (Wed)
14. St. John’s: 3-8, 13-10 (LWR: 15)
If you would have seen my reaction when I saw the Red Storm were beating Louisville 58-37 with seven-plus minutes to play, it would have been the same confused look I had after watching the Lost season premiere.
Up Next: at Notre Dame (Sun), vs. Seton Hall (Wed)
15. Rutgers: 2-9, 12-12 (LWR: 14)
I have never heard of Caldwell College, but it says a lot about the Scarlet Knights that they beat a D-2 opponent (who is 3-19 this season) by only eight points on Tuesday.
Up Next: vs. Georgetown (Sun), at DePaul (Tues)
16. DePaul: 1-10, 8-15 (LWR: 16)
The Blue Demons could win their second Big East game Tuesday against Rutgers. I wouldn’t watch that game if Carrie Underwood promised to mess around with me afterwards. Okay, that’s a lie, but you get the point.
Up Next: at Seton Hall (Sun), vs. Rutgers (Tues)
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