Big East Hoops

Archive for January, 2012

Syracuse & the Gang – Weekly Big East Pix

January 30, 2012 6:56 pm by Big Willie Style

Half way through the conference season a few points are clear:

1. Syracuse is the class of this league. Are they invincible? Not even close. The group behind them are strong though. Although the top 10 ranking aren’t there like they have been in the past, it’s only because the league is so deep. And while no team other than the Orange stands out as a top 10 team, nearly every team could pull an upset of the Orange. so while Syracuse will finish first in the league, don’t sit easily Syracuse fans, because any game could be an upset.

2. Kevin Jones is the frontrunner for MVP. He’s been the best so far, but WVU will have to have continued success in order for him to win the award.

That’s it! Other than that, everything else seems up for grabs, which should make for a crazy stretch run!

MONDAY

The Backyard Brawl is back as the Panthers travel to Morgantown and although Pitt has looked better this week, I’ll take the ‘Neers in this one at home.

TUESDAY

Marquette is quietly having a really good season and they host struggling Seton Hall. I think the Pirates are going to have a tough time turning it around in this one and Marquette should win fairly easily.

WEDNESDAY

What’s going on with UConn? Perhaps the second most talented team in the conference has hit the skids and now they’re facing off with the Hoyas in DC. I know the Huskies have had some troubles recently but I think they pull this one out on the road. Having Boatright back is a plus, and he’ll star in this game.

DePaul hosts St. John’s in a game both teams need in order to have any shot at making a run towards the NCAAs. While neither will likely do that, I’ll take the Blue Demons at home in this game.

Most people have had a terrible time figuring out Rutgers this year and I’m one of those people. Their trip to Providence makes me think they’ll get a road victory. so that probably means they’ll lose. Take the Knights here, but with great caution.

Weekend Picks

January 28, 2012 11:26 am by Coach O

This weekend has some intersesting games to pick. With the way the league has been unfolding this year no pick is a safe one but we will try to shed some light on the games today and Sunday.

West Virginia @ Syracuse

The Orange rebounded nicely from their loss to ND last weekend with a win over Cincinnati. The Mountaineers were routed by St. John’s at the Garden on Wednesday. Go with the Orange to take this one at home.

Georgetown @ Pitt

Although Pitt was able to pull out their first BigEast win against Providence and look better with Trey Woodall scoring 17, the Hoyas have been very consistent this year and will edge the Panthers in this one. If GTown can force Pitt to be careless with the ball they may have an easy win here.

Louisville @ Seton Hall

The Hall has been determined to fire up too many 3′s and cut Herb Pope out of their offensive plan. Pope seemed to lose interest against Notre Dame Wednesday and fouled out with 3 points. Louisville was able to hang on in a tough game against Villanova. The Cardinals will prevail in this one.

Marquette @ Villanova

Nova has been getting better and gave Louisville all they could handle for 30 plus minutes this past week. They should be tough at home but Marquette is on a roll and should be able to pull this one out. Look for Jouhnson-Odom and Crowder to overpower the Cats in a tight contest.

Cincinnati @ Rutgers Cincinnati is coming off 2 losses in a row but Rutgers lost to DePaul Wednesday night after leading for most of the game. Even though the Knights are tough at home they may not be able to stay with the Bearcats in this one. Look for Yancy Gates to have a monster game against Biruta and Cincinnati to take the victory here.

Notre Dame @ UConn

The Irish are coming off two big wins including the home victory over #1 Syracuse. The game against Seton Hall was ugly and the Irish jumped on the cold-shooting Pirates in the second half. ND has already lost to UConn at home and don’t figure to do much better here. If the Husky guards get into foul trouble the Irish have a chance. If not take the Huskies by 10 or so.

Providence @ USF The Friars are the worst team in the league. USF has been using outstanding defense to gather some wins including 5 of their last 7. USF will have much too much for the hapless Friars in Tampa.

Questions and Thoughts

January 26, 2012 8:38 am by Coach O

As we are now more than halfway through the Big East schedule a few questions need to be answered. Do I have the answers? Probably not. But I watch games and continually ask myself questions…. questions with seemingly easy answers…. But in this league…. Not so fast my friend!

Can Syracuse continue to dominate if Melo is permanently on the shelf? I think that the Cuse can and will still be the top team in the Big East with or without Melo. The word is that he has an academic issue. Does this mean that he is ineligible for the rest of the semester? Or does he need to finish some requirements from the Fall term? The amazing performance of Notre Dame last week cannot be put totally on the shoulders of Melo. After all, the Orange did rebound with a win over Cincinnati, a much more talented team and a hot team right after the loss in South Bend. The reason SU lost at ND is that they shot 30% and were outrebounded and outworked by the gutty Irish. Melo does give Syracuse a force in the middle but isn’t the strength of the Orange in their depth? They will be okay and probably will lose again but not enough to open the door for another team to overtake them. However, keep your eye on the Marquette Golden Eagles, they are playing really well right now.

Has Pitt turned the corner with the victory over Providence? No, but it must feel good for them to know they can hold a lead and finish a game. Trey Woodall scoring 17 points doesn;t hurt either. Now Ashton Gibbs can go back to playing 2 guard and hopefully regain his outsdie shooting touch. But Pitt still commits too many turnovers and plays shoddy defense. I finally made the right choice on TribLive radio yesterday telling DD that I guarantee a Pitt victory. Then he reminded me that I made so many wrong predictions about Pitt recently and wondered if he could trust me. Course not, DD!!! I think Pitt will now begin to win a few games but we have to remember that it was Providence they beat at home.

How does Mike Brey do it? That is one I cannot figure out. He wins year after year with a roster that no coach in the league would trade for. Sorry Calhoun and Boeheim, Brey is the best coach in the Big East. He has his players scrapping and fighting every night. Sure they will lose games but they are fun to watch. Even though last night the game with Seton Hall was painful to watch… they made it to the under 16 timeout at 0-0… the Irish came out in the second half and took a double digit lead and never looked back. And don’t foul Brey’s team at the end of a game…. they drilled free throw after free throw in the final minutes. And remember, Syracuse never lead ND during the game. The Irish went wire to wire in that one.

How could WVU lose to St. John’s? That’s just the Big East. The Mountaineers go into MSG on a  roll and quickly go down 20 to the Johnnies. And they never really recovered. With the Player of the Year Kevin Jones heating up in the second half I thought WVU would take the lead and win in the end it was not to be. Harkless and Harrison kept West Viriginia at an arms length and took the victory. A game I’m sure the ‘Neers had penciled in as a W.

What’s with UConn? Napier and Lamb are tremendous players. But with no presence down low the Huskies continue to struggle scoring points. Alex Oriahki was a bull last year during the tourney run for UConn. He doesn’t seem to have the fire anymore and Drummond is a very talented freshman. And he’s looked like a freshman the last few games. The Huskies will win some games but when you  rely on guards to do all your scoring you are gonna have some bad shooting nights. Roscoe Smith and DeAndre Daniels are forgotten men on the UConn team and with Napier having to play 37-40 minutes a game the Huskies must have a double digit lead late in a game to avoid the fatigue factor.

Is Marquette for real? Without a doubt. Johnson-Odom and Crowder are all-league caliber players and the young guys are stepping up to give the Eagles a real shot at challenging Syracuse for the league regular season title. If Marquette can keep up their great play they will be there at the end.

Any surprises this year? Oh yeah! Pitt going 0-7…. USF becoming a force in the league with their defense…. Cincinnati using a suspension to start a run….. Seton Hall forgetting how good Herb Pope is and making him chase rebounds from 3 point misses…. Nova struggling to get above .500 in league play…. And we still have over a month to go before MSG!

Weekly Selections

January 23, 2012 7:24 pm by Big Willie Style

As the conference season begins to head towards the halfway mark, we’ll begin seeing certain teams set themselves apart from the rest, and still others come back to earth. This is about the point last season when pittsburgh began to establish itself as the clear leader, St. John’s began to get some respect, Notre Dame established itself as a contender and Villanova began to severely regress.

MONDAY

Take Cincinnati at home tonight over Syracuse. No Fab Melo again, and this Cincinnati team can play. I’ll take the upset with great confidence. Cincinnati is this year’s Notre Dame.

TUESDAY

USF is 5-2 and has a chance to be this year’s St. John’s. They’ll earn some serious respect around the league if they can pull off this one on the road. The only problem for the Bulls is that Marquette is 5-2 as well, and I’ll take the Golden Eagles at home.

WEDNESDAY

Louisville hosts Villanova in a game where the winner will be feeling really good and looking to move up to the middle of the conference, and the loser will be really happy that Pitt is so bad this year so that there’s no chance they are last. I’ll take the Cards at home in a close one.

Pitt hosts Providence and the Panthers will get their first win. Let’s be clear about this. PC is 1-6. If Pitt doesn’t win this game, they may not win one the rest of the way.

Rutgers hosts DePaul and should have no trouble winning and moving to 4-4 in conference. If the Scarlet Knights can keep it up, they’ll be a hot bubble team in about a month.

St. John’s plays host to West Virginia and will likely struggle here. As of right now, Kevin Jones looks like the league MVP. He could have another huge night in this game.

Probably the most interesting game of the night is Notre Dame at Seton Hall. Obviously, the Irish are coming off of a monster victory. I think they’ll need to be good to play with the Pirates and I think they’ll be a little flat on the road. Take Seton Hall here.

Weekend Picks for January 21-22

January 21, 2012 8:55 am by Big Willie Style

While the excitement bubbles over for the AFC and NFC Championship games, the Big East Conference has a full slate of action on Saturday. In a year that’s as unpredictable as ever, I’ll do my best to comprehend what’s ahead today. Here’s what to look for:

Rutgers travels to DC and although the Scarlet knights have been fantastic at home, I think the Hoyas get it done this afternoon.

St. John’s hosts Villanova in a game that both team really need. I’ll take the Wildcats on the road in this one. You can be sure this should come down to the final moments.

Cincinnati is finally getting some national respect and now that they’ve defeated UConn, this game is one that they need to keep their momentum going. However, I see the Bearcats dropping this one to the Mountaineers in Morgantown.

Heading into this evening’s game, Notre dame hosts Syracuse and I think the irish are going to keep it close the entire way. This will be the closest call the Orange have had yet, but they’ll win. Take Syracuse to win, but Notre Dame with the points.

Marquette visits Providence and should have no trouble on the road in this one.

Finally, Louisville visits Pittsburgh in a game that three weeks ago would have been all over the national radar. However, with both squads severely underperforming this season, we are now faced with an average encounter. And I’ll take the Panthers to get their first conference win.

Finally tomorrow, USF visits DePaul in a contest that very few will watch. However, I’ll take the Bulls to move to 5-2 in the conference. What???!!!! 5-2???!!!