February Free-Fall

An 0-2 record last week coupled with an injury to its star player has knocked Notre Dame off the NCAA Bubble with five regular season games remaining. IrishEyes' looks at the week ahead in the Big East as the Irish attempt to put together a late winning streak.

A look at Notre Dame's upcoming schedule and the rest of the Big East for the week of Monday (2/15) through Sunday (2/21). The Irish are currently 17-9 on the season, and 6-7 overall in Big East play.

ND Week in Review: The Irish entered the week at 6-5 following key victories in home rematches vs. Cincinnati and South Florida. But an 0-2 mark in two winnable games vs. then-lower rung conference teams might have clinched a return berth in the dreaded NIT.

Adding injury to insult in last Thursday's 90-87 loss at Seton Hall was the knee injury (bone bruise) suffered by All American forward and Irish backbone Luke Harangody. Notre Dame played its first Big East contest without the big man from Schererville last night and dropped a crushing 69-68 decision to St. John's.

Seton Hall Recap

St. John's Recap

St. John's Player Notes

On Tap for the Irish

Wednesday, February 17 at Louisville: One game dots the schedule this week for head coach Mike Brey's squad, but the team will likely be without Luke Harangody for Wednesday's trip to Freedom Hall and a matchup with 7-5 Louisville. The Cardinals finished 1-1 on a two-game road trip last week, getting blown out at St. John's, 74-55, before rebounding to beat No. 3 Syracuse, 66-60 in the Carrier Dome.

Brey is 0-3 in three games played at Freedom Hall, a building in which the Irish are a near-impossible 5-28 in games played vs. the Cardinals, Kentucky Wildcats, and Michigan Wolverines (NCAA Tournament loss).

Conference Matchups

The Big East boasts four top 10 teams in this week's rankings: Villanova No. 3; Syracuse No. 5; West Virginia No. 8; and Georgetown No. 10, while Pittsburgh checks in at No. 19 in the A.P. and No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today Coach's Poll.

  • Monday February 15: Connecticut at No. 3 Villanova
  • Tuesday February 16: Cincinnati at South Florida
  • Tuesday, February 16: Rutgers at DePaul
  • Wednesday, February 17: No. 8 West Virginia at Providence
  • Wednesday, February 17: Notre Dame at Louisville
  • Wednesday, February 17: Seton Hall at St. John's
  • Thursday, February 18: No. 5 Syracuse at No. 10 Georgetown
  • Thursday, February 18: No. 21 Pittsburgh at Marquette
  • Saturday, February 20: Seton Hall at No. 8 West Virginia
  • Saturday, February 20: St. John's at South Florida
  • Saturday, February 20: Louisville at DePaul
  • Saturday, February 20: Connecticut at Rutgers
  • Sunday, February 21: No. 3 Villanova at No. 21 Pittsburgh
  • Sunday, February 21: Marquette at Cincinnati

Relevant Game to Monitor for Irish fans: No. 21 Pittsburgh at Marquette. The Golden Eagles are still within shouting distance of the Irish at 7-5 in league play. Marquette's currently considered on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but "IN." If the Irish can catch Marquette for seventh place (plausibly finishing with nine wins apiece) with a season-ending win at the Bradley Center, it would do wonders for Notre Dame's perception among Selection Committee members entering the week of the Big East Tournament.

Game of the Week: Thursday: No. 5 Syracuse at No. 10 Georgetown…the Big East's most storied rivalry offers the Hoyas a chance to avenge a 17-point loss suffered at the Carrier Dome in late January – a game in which the visitors led 14-0 with just three minutes played in the contest.

Team On the Brink: Seton Hall – And in this case, "On the Brink" refers to the precipice of Tournament consideration. The Pirates have won two straight and stand at 5-7 with four games vs. teams ranked below them in the conference standings and a home tilt vs. Marquette. If Seton Hall (RPI ranking of No. 55 with a strength-of-schedule at No. 15) can finish 9-9 (winning four of its last six), the Pirates will have fought their way back to the Tournament Bubble entering the Big East Tournament and would have the advantage over a like-record Irish team and/or Marquette squad and possibly over an 8-10 Connecticut group.

Last week's Team on the Brink was UConn and the Huskies fell further into the NIT abyss, dropping a road game at Syracuse and home rematch vs. Cincinnati (the Bearcats are 2-0 vs. the Huskies this season.

Upset Alerts: No. 21 Pittsburgh over No. 3 Villanova and Rutgers over Connecticut in Piscataway.

Current Big East Standings (as of February 15)

  1. Villanova: 11-1 (22-2)
  2. Syracuse: 11-2 (24-2)
  3. West Virginia: 8-4 (19-5)
  4. Pittsburgh: 8-4 (19-6)
  5. Georgetown 8-5 (18-6)
  6. Marquette: 7-5 (16-8)
  7. Louisville: 7-5 (16-9)
  8. Cincinnati: 6-6 (15-9)
  9. Notre Dame: 6-7 (17-9)
  10. South Florida: 5-7 (15-9)
  11. Seton Hall: 5-7 (14-9)
  12. Connecticut: 4-8 (14-11)
  13. St. John's: 4-8 (14-10)
  14. Providence: 4-9 (12-13)
  15. Rutgers: 3-9 (13-12)
  16. DePaul: 1-11 (8-16)

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories