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.
The Big East is now 41-2 and counting on the season.
Sure, it’s early but that’s certainly a good start for a league that was supposed to be “down” this year.
“It’s early,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said Friday night after his team throttled defending NCAA champion North Carolina, 87-71, to win the Coaches vs. Cancer event at Madison Square Garden. “It’s better than losing games but its too early to think about that stuff.”
Providence (to Alabama) and South Florida (to South Carolina) both lost Friday, otherwise the conference could have been a perfect 43-0.
Syracuse, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova and DePaul — yes, DePaul — all won their tilts.
Some were more impressive than others.
Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell, the conference’s No. 2 scorer a year ago, gave Cornell 33 in an 89-79 win in Ithaca, N.Y.
Ironically, the next team to face Cornell will be soon-to-be-ranked Syracuse Tuesday night.
“I told them one thing, Tuesday night [at Cornell] is going to be the toughest game they have all year so hopefully they are ready for that the next three days,” Boeheim said.
Villanova, the preseason favorite to win the conference, held off a quality Dayton team, 71-65, behind Corey Fisher’s 18 points in the second round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan.
Rutgers and St. John’s both won close games.
Rutgers sophomore forward Greg Echenique hit a layup as time expired to give the Knights a 58-56 victory over Drexel. The Knights missed 15 of 20 shots in the game’s lsat 13 minutes.
St. John’s fended off Brown, 79-76, behind Dwight Hardy’s 16 points.
But the biggest win for the conference so far was Syracuse’s statement game over the defending champs.
One NBA executive told me Carolina had six future potential first-round picks, while the Orange likely only have one in Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson, whom I featured in today’s story on SNY.tv.
The Orange outscored the Heels 50-32 in the second half and rattled off a 22-1 run to start the second half.
“They beat the dickens out of us,” Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “It’s been a while since somebody’s beaten our team that badly.”
Said Boeheim: “It is always good to get wins. When you can beat good teams early it’s a great thing.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.