Big East Update

Irish Eyes takes a weekly look at the Big East men's basketball scene and a quick glance around the nation. The Big East took care of business for the most part last week, but this week's schedule is much tougher and one highly-ranked team has already gone down.

The Big East took care of its business last week and has the same eight teams ranked in the Top 25 as it did a week ago.

No.2 Connecticut (9-0) was idle last week and remained behind top-ranked North Carolina while Pittsburgh (10-0) defeated UMBC to hang on to its No. 3 ranking in both the AP and Coaches' polls. But the Huskies and the Panthers will both be tested this weekend.

UConn, which cruised to victory Monday night over Stony Brook 91-57, will travel to Seattle to take on No. 8/7 Gonzaga (7-1) on Saturday. Pitt will play at Florida State (9-1) on Sunday.

Lousiville (6-1) defeated Austin Peay and moved up one spot to No. 9 in the Coaches' Poll thanks to Tennessee's loss to Temple, but the Cardinals were leaped by Xavier in the AP poll and remained at No. 9. Louisville will play Ole Miss (6-3) in the Big East/SEC Invitational on Thursday and unbeaten Minnesota (9-0) on Saturday.

Notre Dame (7-2) defeated Boston University in its only game of the week, but a lackluster performance obviously hurt the Irish with the voters. Notre Dame was ranked 12th in the AP and 13th in the Coaches' Poll last week, but despite moving ahead of the Volunteers, the Irish actually dropped a spot with the coaches.

Syracuse moved pass the Irish in the AP Poll and Notre Dame remained at No. 12. The Orange, Georgetown and UCLA passed Notre Dame in the Coaches' Poll, dropping the Irish to No. 14 as they moved ahead of Tennessee and Villanova.

Syracuse (9-1) and Georgetown (7-1) made the biggest jumps of anyone in the conference this week. A strong victory over Long Beach State helped the Orange move up four spots to No. 11 in the AP and eight spots to No. 11 in the Coaches' Poll.

The Orange are sure to drop after Cleveland State tossed in a 60-footer at the buzzer to beat Syracuse 72-69 last night. But the big concern for the Orange right now is the status of guard Eric Devendorf.

Devendorf was suspended for the rest of the academic year for an incident that involved him hitting a female student while on probation. Devendorf will continue to play while his appeal is pending and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said that the punishment was harsh and expects it to be reduced. But if it is not, the Orange will be without one of their biggest playmakers for the rest of the season.

Georgetown's overtime win over Memphis helped the Hoyas vault from 19th in both polls to 15th in the AP and 13th with the coaches.

Villanova (10-1) lost to No. 5/5 Texas last week and dropped three places to 18th in the AP Poll, but stayed at 15th in the Coaches' Poll. Marquette (8-1) moved up one spot to 23rd in the Coaches' Poll, but remained at 24 in the AP. Marquette could get knocked out of the rankings if it is not able to get past Tennessee tonight.

West Virginia (7-2) missed out on a chance to jump into the rankings with a 68-65 loss to Stephen Curry and Davidson. Cincinnati (7-2) also had a chance to impress the voters, but lost 76-66 to Xavier, which is ranked seventh in both polls. The Bearcats rebounded on Monday with a 74-55 victory over Charleston Southern.

St. John's (8-1) and Seton Hall (8-1) still do not have a signature victory, but both teams are doing the only thing they can do, win.

If Notre Dame can win its final three games this month, against Delaware State, Savannah State and DePaul, the Irish will be in a strong position to make a move up the national and Big East rankings in January. Notre Dame plays Georgetown, Louisville, Syracuse, UConn, Marquette and Pitt along with St. John's and Seton Hall in January.

The teams that the Irish have lost to, North Carolina and Ohio State, continue to take care of their business and both remain unbeaten. The loss to the Tar Heels will not harm Notre Dame much when it comes to Selection Sunday and if the Buckeyes continue to play well, that loss won't be held against the Irish much either.


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