1. No. 15 Georgetown (18-4, 8-3)
Georgetown did not win a Big East game with Greg Whittington and his 12.1 points, seven boards, and two assists per game in the lineup, but the Hoyas are 8-1 without him. Friday in Cincinnati will be a true test for JT III and the boys. Remember that the Bearcats bounced Georgetown from the Big East quarters in double OT a year ago and have won four straight in this series. Wins against Cincy and then DePaul mid-week would be enormous for GU ahead of next Saturday’s trip to S*racuse for a matchup with Jim Boeheim and his band of plagiarizing shop lifters.
2. No. 6 Syracuse (20-4, 8-3)
‘C*SE has more wins than the Hoyas, but their non-conference schedule was typically anemic. Boeheim’s boys have lost three of five, on the road in Philly, Pittsburgh, and Storrs, and are lucky for the chance to catch their breath against Seton Hall and Providence ahead of their clash with Georgetown. To nobody’s surprise, the Orange’s James Southerland won an appeal against an academic suspension.
3. No. 18 Marquette (17-6, 8-3)
Buzz Williams’ Golden Eagles turned the ball over 19 times against Georgetown on Monday night as senior point guard Junior Cadougan had a nightmare of a game against the Blue and Gray’s pressure. Marquette hosts Pittsburgh on Saturday in a matchup of solid tournament teams looking to beef up their resumes a month ahead of selection Sunday.
4. No. 12 Louisville (20-5, 8-4)
Rick Pitino’s Cardinal started off 16-1 before three straight losses to ‘Nova, ‘C*SE, and the Hoyas at the end of January. They responded with three straight wins before losing a 5-OT thriller to Notre Dame last Saturday. Along with the other top four Big East teams, the Cardinal have an opportunity to finish the regular season strong, win the Big East tournament, and secure a number one seed.
5. No. 16 Pittsburgh (20-5, 8-4)
As Georgetown found out to the tune of a 28-point drubbing back on January 8th, Jamie Dixon’s Panthers are a big physical team that can handle anybody if they get hot from the outside. Senior guard Tray Woodall shoots 38% from three and provides the outside threat while 6-foot-9 Nigerian Talib Zanna and 7-foot New Zealander Steven Adams control the paint.
6. No. 21 Notre Dame (20-5, 8-4)
Junior guard Jerian Grant puts up 13.3 points and dishes out 5.7 assists per game. A slashing guard who can create his own shot is something Notre Dame has lacked over the past few years. Grant played at DeMatha along with Mikael Hopkins, Duke’s Quinn Cook, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, and Pittsburgh point guard James Robinson. They were an okay high school team…
7. Connecticut (17-6, 7-4)
A 66-58 win over S*racuse this past Wednesday gave the Huskies a signature win, but they are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament this year. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright average 33 points and shoot 45% a game between them giving UConn a dynamic pair of scoring guards. Kemba Walker is still fresh in the collective Big East memory, so nobody should take a UConn team with this sort of scoring punch lightly.
8. Cincinatti (17-6, 7-5)
The Bearcats have had GU’s number in recent years, winning the last four, so they will undoubtedly be up for the upset when they host the Hoyas on Friday night. Junior guard Sean Kilpatrick scores 18.2 points a game and has topped 30 points twice. They’ve beaten Marquette and Pitt, but like the rest of the middle of the pack Big East teams they are still in search of a few key wins to boost their tournament resume.
9. St. John’s (15-10, 7-6)
Slick Steve Lavin and St. John’s are bubblelicious. God’s gift Achiua and Sir’Dominic Pointer have already guaranteed St. John’s the Big East team with the best names, but they’ve unperformed on the court so far this season. The Johnnies need to win 2 of three against Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Marquette if they want to make the Big Dance.
10. Villanova (15-10, 6-6)
‘Nova beat Louisville and Syracuse back to back at the end of January, but are 2-3 since. The Wildcats are my pick to win the NIT.
11. Providence (13-11, 5-7)
Junior Guard Bryce Cotton leads the Big East in scoring at 20.5 points per game.
12. Rutgers (13-10, 4-8)
Scarlet Knights started off Big East play with wins over Pitt and St. John’s, but they have lost 6 of 7.
13. Seton Hall (13-12, 2-10)
The Pirates have only beaten DePaul and USF in conference play.
14. DePaul (10-14, 1-10)
9 straight losses for the Blue Demons.
15. South Florida (10-14, 1-11)
Still not sure how they beat Georgetown…