Friday, February 6, 2009
Hello everybody- Mike T here with what will be a continuous Big East all the way up until the NCAA Tournament. First we're gonna start off with a recap of Friday Night's huge upset- South Florida getting their first win ever over a top 10 team, handing 8th ranked Marquette their first lost in Big East play.
Marquette lost the game shooting just 10-23 from the foul line. Jesus Verdejo scored 21 points for the Bulls, who improved to 8-14 overall, but just 3-7 in the Big East. Marquette was once again led by Senior Jerel McNeil, who scored 21 points for the Golden Eagles (20-3, 9-1). McNeil has scored over 20 points in seven straight games.
What this game showed you is that there is officially no team in the Big East that is unbeatable. Every team is capable of playing with anyone- as Providence, Seton Hall and St Johns have shown. And even the bottom teams like Rutgers and South Florida have shown improvement over last year. Onto the weekend games plus Big Monday. First Saturday:
Cincinnati (15-8, 5-5) at Georgetown (13-8, 4-6) Noon.
- Id be terrified of this game if I was Georgetown. Yeah they got back on the winning track against Rutgers, but they are now going up against a Bearcats team that is flying high after their win over Georgetown at home on Jan. 28th. Cincinnati is actually scoring just 70 points a game while the Hoyas are closer to 72, but watching the games Cincy has more fire power than the Hoyas, who have shown a great penchant for going long stretches without scoring (see Seton Hall game).
- The game will come down to how the duo of Deonta Vaughn and Yancy Gates play for the Bearcats. Vaughn is one of the best guards in the Big East, and can take over a game. And Vaughn is just a freshman, but has put up very respectful stats at 10 points and 6 rebounds a game. Georgetown is going to need a big game from their big guns, DuJuan Summers and Greg Monroe, if they want to hold off the surprising Bearcats. Georgetown is 11-2 at home, while Cincinnati is 3-5 on the road.
The Pick: Cincinnati. Vaughn will be too much to handle for Chris Wright and the Hoyas, and the Bearcats will send Georgetown to a shocking 4-7 in conference while they continue to rise towards "bubble" level.
#20 Syracuse (18-6, 6-4) at #16 Villanova (18-4, 6-3) Noon.
- Syracuse is coming off a huge win at home against West Virginia, while Villanova is coming in on a four game winning streak. The big problem in this game will be if the Cuse can get Andry Rautins going from downtown. If Rautins can hit some early threes, it should open the court for not just Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf, but Arinze Onuaku down low. Dont discount the impact of Paul Harris either- Harris having an active game usually results in an Orange win.
- Villanova isnt the most talented team in the conference, but they play with heart and tenacity. Dante Cunningham has matured into a dominant low post player, averaginf 17 points and 7 rebounds a game. The Wildcats only score 75 points a game while the Orange score about 80 a game. The big difference is Nova giving up just 63 points a game, while the Orange are giving up about 70.
- The game will feature great backcourt play from Flynn and Devendorf for the Cuse, and Corey Fisher and Scotty Reynolds for Villanova. However, the battle between Cunningham and Onuaku down low will truly decide this one.
The Pick: Syracuse. When they are clicking, they are a real tough team to beat. I think Nova keeps it close, but in the end they just cant keep up with the scoring of Syracuse.
Providence (14-8, 6-4) at West Virginia (15-7, 4-5) 4:00pm.
-A game between two teams who are becoming real good at playing the underdog role in the conference. And with that both teams have begun to build a preliminary resume for the NCAA tourney. Both teams would love to have this game. A Friar win and they are surprisingly 7-4 in the conference, while West Virginia would get to .500 with the win.
- Providence has lost two in a row, a blowout against UConn and a heartbreaking two point loss to Villanova. Weyinmi Efejuku leads the team in points (14), but the Friars have a ton of players that contribute, with 4 players averaging double figures in points. Marshon Brooks and Sharaud Curry are very good at penetrating to the basket, yet both players shoot over 35% from three. Brooks, just a Sophomore, shoots 69% from the foul line- yet Curry is around 82%. Curry is coming off a 25 point, 5 assist game in the loss to Villanova.
- Safe to say, this will be another test for the West Virginia guards, who just had to deal with Jonny Flynn and Syracuse's guards. However, Senior Alex Ruoff might be the best guard on the court. Ruoff averages 15 points a game with 4 assists, and his freshman backcourt mate, Darryl Bryant, averages 10 points and 3 assists. West Virginia will undoubtedly rely on De'Sean Butler to dominate. The 6'7" Junior from Newark averages 17 points and 7 rebounds a game, and has scored over 20 points in 6 straight games. Butler also shoots over 43% from three point range, making him tough to cover.
The Pick: West Virginia. Both teams come in on two game losing streaks, and Providence has surprised me in terms of how well they are playing (I pegged them as my sleeper for next year- so theyre a year ahead of schedule). I think Butler and and Ruoff will be too much for the Friars.
#5 Pittsburgh (20-2, 7-2) at DePaul (8-15, 0-10) 2:00pm.
- Nothing much to say here, except DePaul would love to get their first Big East win this way. Not going to happen though. Have fun with DeJuan Blair and Sam Young fellas.
The Pick: Pittsburgh. By alot.
The rest of the games on Sunday are out of conference, with #1 UConn taking on Michigan at home and Notre Dame traveling to California to take on #12 UCLA. Notre Dame will tip off at 1pm (10 am West Coast time), and should have lost yet again by the time UConn tips off at 6pm. Michigan has had success against top teams, beating UCLA and Duke, but UConn is too much. The Wolverines might keep it close for a bit, and I really love Manny Harris for Michigan, but UConn is way too good. And thats an understatement.
The Picks: UConn and UCLA.
On Sunday, Seton Hall-Rutgers will go to the Pirates, and #7 Louisville will have no trouble with St Johns. By the way- Congrats on Bobby Gonzalez and the Pirates for taking their upset of Georgetown and parlayed it into 3 straight conference win. A win Sunday over Rutgers and they'll be 13-9 and 4-6 in conference. Well done.
I will take a break and be back Monday for my thoughts on West Virginia and Pitt, as well as my thoughts on the weekend games. Until then- see ya.
- Mike T
I'm reading: Big East College Update- Marquette shocked down SouthTweet this! Posted by WCWP SPORTS at 10:40 PM