Panthers rise in the standings


 Team of the week: 


As usual, the competition this season in the Big East has made the conference seem something like a jungle. This past week, however, the Pittsburgh Panthers have made a great effort to claw their way to the top. 

Pitt had lost four of five games before routing Seton Hall 83-58 on Feb. 6. They then picked up a quick non-conference win over city rival Robert Morris two days later, defeating the Colonials for the 28th straight time. Following these easy victories, the Panthers proved their toughness at home against West Virginia, outlasting the Mountaineers 98-95 in three overtimes. 

This outstanding week has moved Pitt (8-4 Big East, 19-6 overall) into a tie with West Virginia for the third-best record in the Big East behind Villanova (11-1) and Syracuse (11-2). A tough week awaits the Panthers, they travel to Marquette tonight before hosting Villanova on Sunday and then travel to Notre Dame next Wednesday.


Player of the week: 

Scottie Reynolds


Maybe we’re biased, but our senior guard here at Villanova is making quite a case for Big East Player of the Year. And over the past week, Reynolds did nothing but strengthen his platform. 

Just two days after losing their first conference game of the season to Georgetown, the Wildcats had to ready themselves for an even tougher road game versus No. 5 West Virginia.  Reynolds scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, and his perfection from the free-throw line (10 for 10, all in the second half) allowed Villanova to ice the huge victory over the Mountaineers. 

The Wildcats then returned home on Saturday to face Providence, when Reynolds and teammate Corey Fisher each scored 22 points to lead their team to a 92-81 victory. The win returned Villanova to the top of the Big East standings, where they held a half-game lead over Syracuse following the Orange’s loss to Louisville on Sunday. 


Judgment week: 

Marquette Golden Eagles


After the Wildcats took down Marquette twice in the space of a week to begin conference play, by a combined total of four points, no less, many Villanovans forgot about the Golden Eagles. When playing in the Big East, however, even the teams in the middle of the pack can be among the best in the nation.

A 63-52 victory over what was a rapidly improving South Florida team last Saturday boosted Marquette’s conference record to 7-5 (16-8 overall), and the team is now riding a five-game win streak. 

This recent success, along with an impressive win over Georgetown, has shaped the Golden Eagles into a prominent bubble team that may or may not gain entrance to the fast approaching NCAA tournament. 

One factor working in Marquette’s favor is that, of its final six games, only one is against a ranked opponent: tonight’s matchup with Pittsburgh. 

This makes tonight’s game even more important, as the Golden Eagles look to pick up one more upset to add to their resume. If the Golden Eagles hope to gain entrance to the NCAA tournament without relying on a hugely successful conference tournament, they will need to pick up those wins this week under the spotlight of the nation’s bubble watch.


Game of the week: 

Syracuse at Georgetown, Feb. 18


We all know both these teams will make the tournament, but still — two Big East teams, both ranked in the top 10 in the nation? Syracuse knocked off visiting Georgetown 73-56 last time the teams met, despite the Hoyas scoring the first 14 points of the game. However, as Villanova can attest, Georgetown is a different team on its home court, where they are 5-1 as opposed to 3-3 on the road. Greg Monroe and the Hoyas will be hungry for revenge when the Orange arrive in Washington, D.C. tonight.