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Upsets shakeup Big East picture

With apologies to St. John’s upset of Notre Dame on Sunday, Louisville and Rutgers created havoc in the Big East by knocking off Syracuse and Georgetown, respectively. Let’s look at what those wins mean for those teams involved, as well as the game’s impact on Villanova:

Louisville defeats Syracuse:

  • Louisville: The win possibly saves Louisville’s tournament hopes as the Cardinals finally got the signature win they desperately needed. Earlier in the week Louisville lost to St. John’s by 19 points, and it looked like it was primed to fall apart down the stretch. While Louisville has been up-and-down this season, it is now 7-5 in conference. A home game against Notre Dame and a trip to DePaul seem like wins, meaning that Louisville will probably have to win one game out of two home contests against Georgetown and Syracuse and road games against Marquette and UConn to finish with a winning record in the Big East and strengthen its hope for an at-large bid.
  • Syracuse: After barely surviving against UConn, the Orange finally saw their 11-game winning streak snapped. Syracuse is still in line for a No. 1 seed, but with trips to Georgetown and Louisville and a home game against Villanova left the Orange will need to get back in a groove to hold on to that position. Surprisingly, both of Syracuse’s losses are at home this season.
  • Villanova: The obvious impact is that Villanova now has sole possession of first place in the Big East. The lead also helps immensely because it means that Villanova can lose at Syracuse and will still finish in first if it wins the rest of its games and Syracuse loses just one. It also means that a win at Syracuse would effectively give Villanova the regular season title. The showdown on Feb. 27 could lose even more muster as Syracuse has a tough road game with Georgetown on Thursday, but Villanova would not complain a bit.

Rutgers knocks off Georgetown:

  • Rutgers: Perhaps a win like this may go towards saving Fred Hill’s job. Aside from that, it strengthens the team’s hope for a CBI bid.
  • Georgetown: The loss coupled with the Louisville win clutters the Big East race. Georgetown, West Virginia and Pittsburgh all have eight wins, while Marquette and Louisville both have seven. Two of those teams will receive double-byes in the Big East tournament. With games against Syracuse, West Virginia and Louisville still on their schedule, the loss Sunday could be enough to ruin the Hoyas’ hopes for the double-bye. The loss also shows that the Hoyas are one of the toughest teams in the country to figure out, as they have easily beaten Villanova and Duke, but also lost to Rutgers, Old Dominion and South Florida.
  • Villanova: Georgetown’s loss solidifies that that the Big East is a two-team race. With Georgetown now three games behind Syracuse and Villanova, it will take a monumental collapse by either team to not at least finish with the No. 2 seed in the Big East tournament. It also doesn’t hurt that Georgetown is coming off a bad loss, and, much like Louisville was, will be extra motivated to beat Syracuse in its next game.

– David Cassilo

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