Orange take over top spot


 Team of the Week: 


Though they only played one game last week – an easy 71-54 road win at Cincinnati – the Orange are on a roll. Their 10-game win streak (pending last night’s home game against Connecticut) is currently the longest in the Big East, and the team has yet to lose a game on the road. 

Furthermore, Villanova’s loss to Georgetown allowed the Orange to take over first place in the conference. 

And Syracuse has a legitimate shot at maintaining that position – of the six games they have left to play this season, only two are against ranked opponents. 


Player of the Week: 

Luke Harangody, Notre Dame


Notre Dame finished the month of January with an unexplainable loss to lowly Rutgers, placing them at a stagnant eighth place in the Big East. Apparently, senior forward Luke Harangody decided enough was enough. The candidate for his second conference Player of the Year award exploded for 37 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Cincinnati. Three days later, Harangody contributed 19 points and 15 rebounds as the Irish took down a red-hot South Florida team, 65-62. Suddenly, Notre Dame finds itself just one game removed from fourth place in the Big East. With very winnable matchups against Seton Hall and St. John’s in the upcoming week, Harangody and the Irish might just be able to make some noise as we enter the latter part of the season.


Judgment Week: 



Last season, the Huskies were awarded a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and rode March Madness all the way to the Final Four. Since then, however, key players such as Hasheem Thabeet and A.J. Price have departed, Coach Jim Calhoun has been forced to take a medical leave of absence and UConn fans are suddenly faced with three letters they probably never saw coming: NIT.

Prior to last night’s contest at Syracuse, the Huskies’ 4-6 Big East record (14-9 overall) had them at 11th place in the conference – a mark that has dropped them out of the national rankings and is unlikely to gain them entrance to the tournament in March. Now, with just seven games left in the season, the perennial powerhouse is running out of time to prove its doubters wrong. 

Following their crucial road game against Syracuse on Wednesday night, the Huskies will host Cincinnati on Saturday and then travel to Villanova on Monday. This six-day, three-game stretch – which includes road matchups against two highly ranked opponents – is huge for Connecticut. 

If they can’t string together a few big upset wins this week, the Big East tournament will be their only shot at a return to the NCAA bracket.


Game of the Week: 

West Virginia at Pittsburgh, Feb. 12


As the regular season nears its end, matchups between the Big East’s top teams gain importance and intensity. One such matchup will take place tomorrow night, when West Virginia and Pittsburgh meet for the second time this season. 

The Mountaineers won the last matchup on their home court in Morgantown when senior forward Da’Sean Butler scored 18 points and West Virginia topped Pittsburgh 70-51. Just over a week later, the Panthers will have a chance for revenge. 

West Virginia (8-3 Big East, 19-4 overall) has put together a six-game win streak over the last couple of weeks and is battling Villanova and Syracuse for the top spot in the conference. 

Pitt (7-4 Big East, 18-6 overall), meanwhile, had lost four of its last five games before crushing Seton Hall 83-58 last Saturday. 

A win at home over a top-10 team like the Mountaineers would provide the Panthers with a great boost to their tournament résumé, a boost they seem to desperately need after recent stumbles. Despite being the surprise team in the Big East, Pitt has clearly taken a turn for the worse and needs a win.