Big East Update

The race for the top two spots in the Big East remains tight, but the most important race in the league involves the teams in the middle of conference trying to stay in or get into the top eight and avoid playing on day one of the league tourney.

While some separation was made last week between the top four teams in the Big East and the rest of the conference, the races for the league title and spots in the top eight remain heated.

After Pittsburgh's win at Connecticut on Monday night, the top four teams all have two league losses. UConn (24-2, 12-2) remains on top, a half-game ahead of the Panthers (24-2, 11-2), and will get its shot at revenge in the March 7 regular season finale in Pittsburgh.

Marquette (21-4, 10-2) and Louisville (19-5, 10-2) each lost last week and are tied for third.

In their first game after being upset by South Florida, the Golden Eagles lost to Villanova. Marquette rebounded with a win over St. John's on Saturday and will look to start a winning streak against Seton Hall tonight before heading to Georgetown on Saturday afternoon.

The Cardinals fell at Notre Dame last Thursday, but bounced back with a blowout win over DePaul. Louisville will have another test on Wednesday when it entertains Providence and will play at Cincinnati on Saturday.

Villanova (20-5, 8-4) is currently fifth in the league, but even with the impressive win over Marquette the Wildcats are two games behind the Golden Eagles and the Cardinals after a blowout loss at West Virginia. Villanova should be able to get its confidence back against Rutgers on Thursday before a big game at Syracuse on Sunday.

Providence (16-9, 8-5) is right behind Villanova and bounced back from a three-game losing streak with a pair of wins over South Florida and Rutgers. The Friars next three games will be their biggest of the year as they face Louisville on Wednesday, Notre Dame on Saturday before hosting Pittsburgh next Tuesday.

If the Friars slip up, Syracuse (19-7, 7-6) and Cincinnati (17-9, 7-6) will be the first teams looking to take advantage. The Orange and Bearcats are tied for seventh and both teams will have time to rest before difficult games this weekend.

Syracuse will have had a full seven days off before its contest with Villanova on Sunday while six days will have passed since Cincinnati's loss to Pittsburgh before the Bearcats host Louisville.

West Virginia (17-8, 6-6), Notre Dame (14-10, 5-7), Seton Hall (14-10, 5-7) and Georgetown (13-10, 4-8) are currently outside the top eight, meaning if the regular season ended today all four would be playing on day one of the Big East Tournament.

South Florida (8-16, 3-9), St. John's (12-13, 3-10), Rutgers (10-15, 1-11) and DePaul (8-18, 0-13) will undoubtedly be playing in the first round of the Big East Tournament, but they will have opportunities to have a say in who will be joining them.

The Irish and the Mountaineers will go head-to-head on Wednesday and Notre Dame will have another tough one on Saturday when they head to Providence while West Virginia will get a bit of a break with Rutgers, although that game will be in Piscataway on Sunday.

The Hoyas will get a chance to get another taste of victory after losing seven of their last eight when they play at South Florida on Wednesday, but the schedule does not stay easy as Georgetown hosts Marquette on Saturday.

Before the Hoyas get a shot at the Golden Eagles, Seton Hall will as the Pirates play at Marquette tonight. Seton Hall stays on the road with a Sunday afternoon game at St. John's.


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