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Big East: A look back and a look ahead

Cincinnati Georgetown Basketball

We learned a lot about the Big East this past week, and with less than a month in the regular season, some very important stories have developed:

Cincinnati is now a tournament contender:  When Villanova saw Cincinnati just eight days ago, the Bearcats resembled a team that was more in a transition stage than one vying for an NCAA Tournament bid.  However, the Bearcats began to heat up this week, winning games against fellow bubble teams Notre Dame and Georgetown.  The win over the Hoyas now gives them two victories over them this season which is something that will be very important if it comes down to choosing between the two on Selection Sunday.  The remaining schedule has many tough tests (@ Pitt, vs. Lou, vs. WV and @ Cuse), but at 6-5 in the conference, Cincinnati has given themselves a legitimate shot at a bid.

Villanova is looking like a top 10 team:  Not to boast too much, but our Wildcats are playing as well as any team in the country lately.  In their last four games, they have beaten tournament contenders Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Providence and Syracuse.  The game against Syracuse got a lot of people’s attention as the Wildcats absolutely manhandled the Orange.  At 7-3 in the conference and a date with Marquette looming tomorrow, Villanova’s postseason future is looking very bright.

Georgetown and Notre Dame must save their season this week:  There is no more time to waste for either team as the Hoyas sit at 4-7 in the conference while Notre Dame is at 3-7.  Even a bid in the NIT is looking shaking right now for both teams.  Georgetown has off until Saturday when they travel to Syracuse to take on the Orange.  A win would go a long way towards getting them back in postseason conversations.  Notre Dame has a home game Thursday versus Louisville followed by another home game Sunday against South Florida.  The Fighting Irish must win both as, especially the Louisville game, as they try to add some legitimacy back to their case.

Seton Hall is a dangerous team:  After losing their first six Big East games, the Pirates have won their last four.  This is not a team that will make the NCAA Tournament, but with Jeremy Hazell on the roster, the Pirates have a chance to give even the elite Big East teams a good game.  Their next game is against DePaul and a win would bring them to 5-6 in the conference.

Key games this week:

West Virginia @ Pittsburgh, Monday 7 p.m.

Marquette @ Villanova, Tuesday 7:30 p.m.

Syracuse @ UConn, Wednesday  7 p.m.

Louisville @ Notre Dame, Thursday 7 p.m.

Villanova @ West Virginia, Friday 9 p.m.

Georgetown @ Syracuse, Saturday 12 p.m.

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh, Saturday 4 p.m.

-David Cassilo

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