The wild ride of the Big East Conference men's basketball season continued last week and is not showing any signs of slowing down before the conference tournament in March.
The conference dropped to seven teams in this week's Associated Press poll (#2 Connecticut, #3 Pittsburgh, #7 Louisville, #8 Marquette, #15 Syracuse, #21 Villanova and #25 Georgetown) as Notre Dame was the first team left out.
In the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, the Irish remained ahead of Georgetown, checking in at 22 while the Hoyas were 23. The rest of the Big East teams had the same rankings in both polls.
The Huskies (18-1, 7-1) and Panthers (18-1, 6-1) each registered big conference wins last week with UConn taking down Notre Dame and Villanova while Pitt defeated Syracuse and West Virginia.
Marquette (18-2, 7-0) and Louisville (15-3, 6-0) remain the only two teams with perfect conference records even though the Huskies and Panthers are ahead of them in the polls. The Golden Eagles notched their top road win of the season on Monday by beating Notre Dame 71-64.
The Cardinals captured their best win away from home last week when they defeated Syracuse 67-57.
The Orange (17-4, 5-3) had a tough week with the losses to Pittsburgh and Louisville, but Syracuse had set themselves up with a strong start and remain in good position even with back-to-back losses. The Orange are sixth in the conference and the only reason they are that low is because of the surprise of the league, Providence.
The Friars (13-6, 5-2) have losses to Pittsburgh and Georgetown, but have taken care of business in the rest of their conference games and currently sit at fifth in the league.
Villanova (15-4, 3-3) and West Virginia (14-5, 3-3) lost to Connecticut and Pittsburgh respectively last week, but the Wildcats beat South Florida and the Mountaineers upset Georgetown. Villanova and West Virginia are tied for seventh in the conference.
The Hoyas (12-6, 3-4) had a rough week, suffering disappointing losses to West Virginia and Seton Hall last week.
Cincinnati (13-7, 3-4) is tied with the Hoyas for ninth in the league while the Irish (12-7, 3-5) check in at 10th in the 16-team conference.
This week, as with any week in the Big East, will be an interesting one. The Irish are on a three-game losing streak, but have the chance to turn things around in a hurry when they travel to Pittsburgh for a contest on Saturday.
The Panthers have a couple of tough games this week as they will play at Villanova tonight before hosting the Irish.
Providence will get a chance to prove that it is for real as the Friars host Syracuse tonight before traveling to Connecticut on Saturday. The Mountaineers host St. John's tonight and will play at Louisville on Saturday.
The Hoyas could easily find themselves in a similar situation as Notre Dame as they play at Cincinnati tonight and at Marquette on Saturday. After the Georgetown game, the Bearcats will play at Villanova on Sunday.