Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Big East Breakdown – Villanova Rolling; League May Add a 12th Team for Football; Five Storylines; Weekly Honors; Power Rankings
They aren’t ranked in today’s Coaches’ Poll, but did anybody have as good a week last week as Villanova?
For the first time in program history, the unranked Wildcats knocked off two top five programs in the span of one week of the regular season.
On Tuesday, the Wildcats upset No. 5 Louisville, 73-64, and then followed that up four days later by beating No. 3 Syracuse, 75-71 in OT, thanks to a Ryan Arcidiacono 3-pointer that tied the game with 2.2 seconds left in regulation.
Fans stormed the court at the ends of both games.
And Arcidiacono was named Big East Player of the Week for his efforts. (See below for more).
“What a week for us,” said Villanova head coach Jay Wright, whose team was picked 12th in the Big East and is now in a five-way tie for fifth (13-7, 4-3).
“We played really well but you can just see why Syracuse is a team that can win a national championship. They just keep coming and keep coming – they made so many adjustments. It’s why Jim Boeheim is a Hall of Fame coach.”
Villanova travels to Notre Dame Wednesday in an ESPN2 game and then has a favorable schedule after that.
The Wildcats host Providence, visit DePaul and host USF. They should be able to come out of this four-game stretch going at least 2-2, if not 3-1.
“I don’t think we have done it as consistently as [Syracuse and Louisville],” Wright said. “You know when we lose a game, it’s pretty ugly. You can see, when these guys lose games, they’re on the road against a team that’s having their best game, and they still have a chance to win it; we gotta get to that consistency level, but this is how you start and you beat teams like this and you gotta go on the road and go at Notre Dame and you gotta play the same level of efficiency. We haven’t proven that yet, but we’re starting.”
FIVE STORYLINES + 1
1. Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco told reporters Monday the league is looking to add a 12th school for football.
“We probably at some point will add a 12th team,” Aresco said, according to ESPN.com. “We are going to have 11 when Navy comes in ’15. We’ll have 10 this year. There’s no urgency, but we think we’ll probably think about adding a 12th team.”
Aresco also said the league is looking to keep the Big East name after the Catholic 7 split off, likely in 2014, and that the conference could sign a TV deal that includes multiple networks.
2. After being installed as the No. 1 team in the land two weeks ago, Louisville proceeded to lose three straight games — at home to Syracuse, at Villanova and at Georgetown — and fell to No. 12 in the Coaches’ Poll. They host Pittsburgh tonight on ESPN’s “Big Monday” in a game they must win to stem the bleeding.
3. St. John’s has won four straight since getting crushed by Georgetown, 67-51, on Jan. 12. During the run, the Johnnies have won on the road (DePaul and Rutgers) and at home (Notre Dame and Seton Hall). They host DePaul Wednesday in a game that could get them to 14-7 overall and 6-3 in the conference. Freshman forward JaKarr Sampson won his fifth Big East Rookie of the Week honors Monday, thereby enhancing his chances of being St. John’s second one-and-done player in two years. (See: Moe Harkless.)
4. Marquette is currently riding a 20-game winning streak (tied for the fifth-longest active streak in the nation) at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
After falling 74-57 to Vanderbilt on Dec. 29, 2011, Marquette collected a perfect 9-0 record at home in Big East play (15-1 overall) in 2011-12 en route to a best-ever second-place finish (14-4) in the league. The Golden Eagles are 11-0 so far at home in 2012-13. They host USF Monday night and a win would put them in a tie with Syracuse atop the league standings.
5. Two Big East players recently scored their 1,000th career point. Seton Hall’s Fuquan Edwin, a former Paterson (N.J.) Catholic star, did it Sunday in the loss to St. John’s, and UConn’s Shabazz Napier scored his 1,000th on Jan. 8 against DePaul at Gampel Pavilion.
6. Numerous Big East coaches have been busy recruiting in New York City in recent days. St. John’s coach Steve Lavin and his staff, Rutgers coach Mike Rice and UConn assistant Glen Miller all watched the Christ the King-Bishop Loughlin game Friday night, won by CTK, 73-72. St. John’s and UConn are involved with 2014 Loughlin guard Khadeen Carrington, while Rutgers is hot on the trail of CTK shooting guard Jon Severe. Rutgers also just landed a pledge from South Kent (Conn.) point guard Shane Rector, while St. John’s watched 6-10 Jermaine Lawrence of Pope John of Sparta, N.J. make his debut last Thursday.
WEEKLY HONORSBIG EAST Player of the WeekDARRUN HILLIARD, Villanova, G, So.
Hilliard led Villanova to a pair of wins against top-five opponents last week, marking the first time since the 1985 Final Four that the Wildcats beat back-to-back top-five teams. He averaged 18.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 64.7 percent from the field (11-of-17) in wins against No. 5/5 Louisville (73-64) and No. 3/4 Syraucse (75-71 ot). Hilliard scored 25 points with seven rebounds and six assists without a turnover in the overtime win against the Orange.
BIG EAST Rookie of the WeekJAKARR SAMPSON, St. John’s, F, Fr.
Sampson averaged 20.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in a 2-0 week, helping St. John’s move into a tie for third place in the BIG EAST standings. He scored 21 points with seven rebounds in a 72-60 win at Rutgers and followed that effort with a 19-point, five-rebound showing in a 71-67 victory against Seton Hall.
BIG EAST Honor RollSHABAZZ NAPIER, Connecticut, G, Jr.
Scored 19 points with six assists and five rebounds in a 66-54 win against Rutgers.
OTTO PORTER, Georgetown, F, So.
Averaged 18.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in a 2-0 week against top-25 opponents.
LAMAR PATTERSON, Pittsburgh, F, Jr.
Averaged 16.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in a 2-0 week. Shot 66.7 percent from the field (12-of-18).
BRYCE COTTON, Providence, G, Jr.
Averaged 21.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in two games.
D’ANGELO HARRISON, St. John’s, G, So.
Averaged 22.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in a 2-0 week.
1. Syracuse (18-2, 6-1)
2. Marquette (14-4, 5-1)
3. Louisville (16-4, 4-3)
4. Cincinnati (16-4, 4-3)
5. Notre Dame (16-4, 4-3)
6. Pittsburgh (17-4, 5-3)
7. Villanova (13-7, 4-3)
8. Georgetown (14-4, 4-3)
9. St. John’s (13-7, 5-3)
10. UConn (13-5, 3-3)
11. Rutgers (12-7, 3-5)
12. Providence (10-10, 2-6)
13. Seton Hall (13-7, 2-5)
14. DePaul (10-9, 1-5)
15. USF (10-9, 1-6)
PREVIOUS BIG EAST BREAKDOWNS
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Week 2: Click here
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.