Big East Outlook

There was a lot of moving and shaking this weekend in the Big East. Georgetown's win over Pittsburgh moved them to the top of the conference standings. There's also still a little bit of an opening, no matter how small, for Seton Hall to earn the final spot to New York City. Here's a look at the current projections for the Big East Tournament heading into the final week of the regular season.

***No. 1 seed Georgetown (bye): The Hoyas (12-2) protected their home court and made a second half comeback to beat the Panthers. With the win, they leaped to the top of the league by a game over Pittsburgh and won their 11th in a row in conference action. No. 12 Georgetown, led by Big East Player of the Year candidate Jeff Green and 7-2 monster Roy Hibbert, got 17 points from Jonathan Wallace to help earn the huge Big East victory. The Hoyas still have two contests left at Syracuse and home to Connecticut before any outright titles can be claimed. But Georgetown has that look of a Final Four team.

***No. 2 seed Pittsburgh (bye): The Panthers (11-3) led by eight in the second half on the road to the Hoyas but were unable to hold on. The bad news is that they have two tough games left on the schedule. No. 8 Pittsburgh hosts West Virginia on Tuesday night and travels to Milwaukee next weekend to battle No. 16 Marquette. It's no gimmie that they'll stay in this two spot. The team hot on their heals is…

***No. 3 seed Louisville (bye): The Cardinals are one of the surprise teams of the league this season. They are a young bunch as their top two scorers are a freshman and a sophomore. A win over Connecticut on Sunday puts them at 11-4 in league play with one contest remaining at home against Seton Hall. If Louisville beats the Pirates and the Panthers fall in one of their two final games, the Cardinals will receive the three seed because of a head-to-head win over them back on February 5th in Pittsburgh. Head coach Rick Pitino deserves a lot of credit for how this group has performed. They've won five in a row and are getting hot at just the right time.

***No. 4 seed Notre Dame (bye): The Irish (10-5) won a hard-fought physical battle on Saturday over Marquette to position themselves with the advantage for the final league tournament bye spot. After losing three of five games at the midpoint part of the schedule, No. 23 Notre Dame has come back to win four in a row. Senior Colin Falls has been lighting it up lately, scoring 14 points or more in 11 straight contests. Freshman point guard Tory Jackson continues to improve and his 21-point, seven-rebound, seven-assist performance against the Golden Eagles probably clinched a spot for him on the first-team All-Freshmen Big East squad. A road game at lowly Rutgers (10-18, 3-12) next weekend is the only thing that stands in their way of obtaining the fourth seed.

***No. 5 seed Syracuse: The Orange (9-5) won a big game on the road at Providence on Saturday to help shore up their NCAA Tournament resume. Big East Player of the Year candidate Demetris Nichols, who leads the Big East in scoring, hit the go-ahead three-pointer with less than 40 second remaining. If Syracuse wants to take the decision out of the selection committee's hands, they'll have to win at home on Monday against league-leader Georgetown. They end the year at Villanova, who also is searching for wins to get off the Big Dance bubble.

***No. 6 seed Marquette: The Golden Eagles (9-6) lost a tough road game to Notre Dame this past Saturday despite holding a 13-point first half lead. Marquette has lost four of five games down the stretch and their woes might be traced to the recent shooting woes of super sophomore guard Dominic James. The Golden Eagles will host No. 8 Pittsburgh this weekend in both teams' regular season finale. They can't get a bye in the Big East Tournament but a win over the Panthers will do wonders for their NCAA Tournament seeding.

***No. 7 seed West Virginia: The Mountaineers (8-6) did not play this weekend but lost last Tuesday at Providence. The last six games for West Virginia have been win, loss, win, loss, win and loss. They have a tough road game on Tuesday at Pittsburgh and then finish up the regular season at home to Cincinnati. Four teams are separated by one game in the middle of the standings. A loss by the Mountaineers can shake up the seeding for the conference tournament.

***No. 8 seed DePaul: The Blue Demons (8-7) have won four of five contests with the only loss coming at Notre Dame. They beat Cincinnati this weekend and have South Florida in Chicago next Sunday to end the regular season. DePaul still has some work to do to get into the NCAA Tournament. But it looks as if they're heading to New York City with a full head of steam behind sophomore Wilson Chandler's fantastic play as of late.

***No. 9 seed Villanova: The Wildcats (7-7) won a cakewalk over Rutgers at home this weekend to even their conference record at .500. Villanova is a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament but has a high RPI ranking at 19th. They have games left at Connecticut on Wednesday and the finish up at home against Syracuse. Wins over both these teams will solidify their NCAA Tournament hopes and improve their Big East seed. There's a lot of talent on the team with Curtis Sumpter, Mike Nardi and fabulous freshman Scottie Reynolds. Anything short of a trip to the Big Dance would be a disappointment.

***No. 10 seed Providence: The Friars (7-7) were beat in the final minute at home this weekend by the Orange. They are the 10th seed because an earlier season loss to Villanova. Fifth-year senior Herbert Hill (17 PPG, 8 RPG) has been one of the top players in the league this year and is a candidate for Player of the Year. Providence has two contests left, both on the road, to South Florida and to St. John's. Both are winnable games and are must wins if the Friars have any hope of making it to the Big Dance. More than likely, they'll need both victories and a win or two in the Big East Tournament to avoid the NIT.

***No. 11 seed Connecticut: Despite the Huskies down year, they are guaranteed to make the conference tournament in New York City. Connecticut lost another game on Sunday at home to Louisville to drop them to 6-8 in league play. The Huskies are a young group and should be one of the better teams in the Big East next season. But it's not been a banner year for head coach Jim Calhoun. This team will have to win it all in the Big Apple to make the NCAA Tournament.

***No. 12 seed St. John's: The Red Storm (6-9) are occupying the final spot for the conference tournament. There is only one scenario where they don't get a chance in New York City. They'll have to lose the regular season finale to Providence next week at Madison Square Garden and have Seton Hall, currently 4-10 in league action, win both of their final contests on the road to Cincinnati and Louisville. The Pirates beat St. John's earlier in the year to own the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage. Top Stories