***NOTRE DAME (12-2, 2-0): The Irish did what conference leaders do best: take care of business at home. Notre Dame opened up Big East play with a 13-point win over West Virginia and followed it up with a hard fought 73-67 win against Connecticut two days later. The Irish look forward to their first true road game of the year on Saturday at No. 16 Marquette.
For his efforts last week, Luke Harangody was named Big East Player of the Week. The sophomore forward averaged 21 PPG and 10 rebounds a contest in the two league victories, including a 29-point, 16-rebound performance against the Mountaineers, both of which are career-highs. Harangody actually struggled in the win over UCONN, shooting 5-of-23 from the floor. But Kyle McAlarney picked up the slack, pouring in a career-high 32 points to fend off the Huskies comeback attempt. Sophomore point guard Tory Jackson is second in the Big East in assists, dishing out six a game.
***SYRACUSE (12-3, 2-0): The Orange followed Notre Dame's path to a quick 2-0 start. Syracuse beat St. John's and South Florida at the Carrier Dome to stand tied with the Irish atop the Big East standings. The Orange have a road contest on Wednesday at Cincinnati before another away trip on Sunday, this time at West Virginia.
Despite losing Eric Devendorf to a season-ending injury, Syracuse is relying on a few youngsters to pull them through. Donte Green, a 6-11 freshman, leads the team in scoring at 19 PPG and is pulling down 7.8 boards a contest. Green has scored 20-plus points in four of the past six games. The Orange are tops in the Big East in scoring. Sophomore guard Paul Harris almost averages a double-double at 12.9 PPG and 9.6 rebounds a contest.
***DEPAUL (6-7, 2-0): The most surprising start in conference action belongs to the Blue Demons. DePaul, as Notre Dame and Syracuse accomplished, won both their contests at home. The Blue Demons took down Villanova by eight and Providence by five. DePaul has another home game on Tuesday against No. 8 Georgetown and league observers will quickly get to find out how real that 2-0 start is.
Draelon Burns, a 6-4 senior, is tops on the team in scoring at 18.5 PPG and third in the Big East. Burns has broken the 30-point barrier twice this season. Mac Koshwal, a 6-10 freshman, is the main big man down low. Koshwal averages 11.2 PPG and pulls down 8.2 boards a contest.
***NO. 8 GEORGETOWN (11-1, 1-0): The Hoyas have played just one league contest and won at Rutgers 58-46 last Saturday. Georgetown has a test on Tuesday. The Hoyas travel to Chicago to take on DePaul, who is 2-0 in the conference. After that game, Georgetown returns home on Saturday to host Connecticut. Starting out Big East play 2-0 on the road would be a feather in the cap of the pre-season league favorites.
The formula remains the same under head coach John Thompson III: play great defense and take high percentage shots. The numbers bear this out. The Hoyas are first in the Big East in both scoring defense and field goal percentage. Georgetown has seven players averaging between 13 PPG and six PPG, led by DaJuan Summers. The 6-8 sophomore leads the team at 12.3 PPG. Big man Roy Hibbert is second in scoring at 11 PPG and pulls down six rebounds a contest. This is a deep team as the Hoyas have nine players averaging 17 minutes a game or more.
***NO. 16 MARQUETTE (11-2, 1-1): The Golden Eagles won their conference opener by 29 over Providence before falling to West Virginia 79-64 on the road. Marquette hosts Seton Hall on Tuesday before a Saturday showdown against Notre Dame in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles are pretty balanced, ranking fifth in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
Junior Dominic James leads Marquette in scoring at 14.9 PPG. The 5-11 guard has scored in double figures in all but one game and James' shooting percentage is up almost five points from last season's 38 percent mark. Lazar Haywood, a 6-6, 225-pound sophomore, controls the paint area for the Golden Eagles by averaging 13.3 PPG and pulling down six rebounds a contest. Jerel McNeal, a 6-3 junior, compliments James on the perimeter. McNeal is averaging 13 PPG and is shooting 50 percent from the field, up nine percentage points from 2006-07.
***NO. 17 VILLANOVA (11-2, 1-1): The Wildcats bounced back from a eight-point loss at DePaul with a one-point home victory over Pittsburgh. Two free throws by Dante Cunningham with 10 seconds left were the difference in the game as the Wildcats look to continue the momentum on Saturday. Villanova will travel to play at Cincinnati.
Scottie Reynolds leads the Wildcats offense. The sophomore guard averages 15.5 PPG and dishes out over four assists a contest. After five straight double-digit scoring performances, Reynolds was held to just four points in the win over Pittsburgh. The two big men, Cunningham and Shane Clark, combine for 21 points and 12 rebounds a game. Corey Fisher is also producing on the offensive end. The 6-1 freshman is second on the team in scoring at 12.3 PPG.
***WEST VIRGINIA (11-3, 1-1): The Mountaineers were stymied by the Notre Dame defense and lost their Big East opener 69-56 in South Bend. But back in Morgantown, head coach Bob Huggins' team beat Marquette by 15 points. West Virginia has a tough road date against Louisville on Thursday before a Sunday showdown at home against Syracuse. It's a big week in conference action for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia has four players averaging in double figures, led by Alex Ruoff. The 6-6 junior scores 16 PPG and is shooting 54 percent from the field. Joe Alexander, a 6-8 junior, is second in scoring at 15.6 PPG and first in rebounding at 6.4 a contest. The Mountaineers are third in the league in scoring, averaging 83 PPG.
***CONNECTICUT (10-3, 1-1): The Huskies have what a lot of other teams failed to do: win on the road. The Huskies beat Seton Hall 98-86 last Thursday but followed it up with a six-point loss at Notre Dame. In the defeat to the Irish, UCONN was down 21 in the first half but came storming back to make it a contest in the final minutes. Notre Dame made the plays down the stretch for the win and Connecticut can get to 2-1 in conference action on Tuesday as they host St. John's. A big showdown awaits the Huskies on Saturday. UCONN travels on the road to face No. 8 Georgetown.
The Huskies have five players averaging in double figures. Jerome Dyson, a 6-4 guard, leads the team in scoring at 15.7 PPG. Jeff Adrien, a 6-6 junior, is a bruiser down low and averages 13.7 PPG and pulls down eight rebounds a contest. Hasheem Thabeet, a 7-3 center, blocked 10 shots in the loss to Notre Dame and held Big East Player of the Week Luke Harangody to 5-of-23 from the field. Point guard A.J. Price leads the conference in assists, dishing out six a game.