IrishEyes' looks at the week ahead in the Big East, one in which Notre Dame can improve its conference and national standing with matchups vs. No. 12 Pittsburgh and at No. 11 Georgetown.
ND Week in Review: The Irish entered the week at 6-7 following consecutive losses at Seton Hall (90-87) and at home vs. St. John's (69-68).
Head coach Mike Brey's determined Irish fell short in Freedom Hall, playing an inspired 50 minutes without Harangody before dropping a 91-89 double overtime battle to Louisville. The Irish possessed the basketball with a chance to win on three separate occasions (end of regulation, end of first overtime, end of second overtime) but came away empty in each instance.
Conference MatchupsThe Big East boasts five teams in this week's A.P. rankings: No. 4 Syracuse, No. 7 Villanova, No. 8 West Virginia, No. 11 Georgetown and No. 12 Pittsburgh. Both Marquette (11) and Louisville (9) garnered poll votes, placing them unofficially at No. 32 and No. 33 nationally according to the Associated Press.
- Monday February 22: No. 8 West Virginia at Connecticut
- Tuesday February 23: No. 4 Syracuse at Providence
- Tuesday February 23: No. 11 Georgetown at Louisville
- Tuesday February 23: Rutgers at Seton Hall
- Wednesday, February 24: South Florida at No. 7 Villanova
- Wednesday, February 24: No. 12 Pittsburgh at Notre Dame
- Wednesday, February 24: DePaul at Cincinnati
- Wednesday, February 24: Marquette at St. John's
- Saturday, February 27: No. 7 Villanova at No. 4 Syracuse
- Saturday, February 27: Cincinnati at No. 8 West Virginia
- Saturday, February 27: Notre Dame at No. 11 Georgetown
- Saturday, February 27: No. 12 Pittsburgh at St. John's
- Saturday, February 27: DePaul at Rutgers
- Saturday, February 27: Providence at South Florida
- Sunday, February 28: Louisville at Connecticut
- Sunday, February 28: Marquette at Seton Hall
Relevant Teams to Monitor for Irish fans: Connecticut (see below) and Marquette. Barring a 1-3 slide to finish the season, the Golden Eagles are expected to earn the Big East's seventh NCAA big. Marquette must first survive back-to-back road outings at St. John's and Seton Hall before entertaining Louisville at the Bradley Center, and closing the season with the Irish (in Milwaukee) on March 6.
Game of the Week: Saturday: No. 4 Syracuse at No. 7 Villanova – The only matchup between the teams this season will likely determine the Big East's regular season champion.
Team(s) on the Brink: Connecticut and Notre Dame – Both 6-8 Big East teams are on off the NCAA Tournament Bubble. Both would find themselves back in contention with a 2-0 mark this week vs. the conference elite.
UConn opens with a home game tonight vs. No. 8 West Virginia and concludes the week with a Sunday battle in Freedom Hall vs. streaking Louisville. The Irish host No. 12 Pittsburgh on Wednesday before traveling to No. 111 Georgetown for a CBS-televised matchup on Saturday.
Though a split does not end the tourney hopes for either squad, a 2-0 record would put both back in the running for a final Big East bid…and a March 3 matchup between the teams in South Bend will likely serve as an elimination game for one of the programs.
Last week's Team on the Brink was Seton Hall and the Pirates earned an expected split, winning at. St. John's before suffering a 12-point defeat at No. 8 West Virginia. The Hall remains on the outside looking in (along with Connecticut and Notre Dame) in the race for a plausible eighth Big East bid.
Upset Alerts: St. John's when it hosts Marquette Wednesday and Notre Dame when it visits No. 12 Georgetown on Saturday.
Current Big East Standings (as of February 22)
- Syracuse: 12-2 (25-2)
- Villanova: 11-3 (22-4)
- West Virginia: 10-4 (21-5)
- Pittsburgh: 10-4 (21-6)
- Louisville: 9-5 (18-9)
- Georgetown 8-6 (18-7)
- Marquette: 8-6 (17-9)
- Notre Dame: 6-8 (17-10)
- Seton Hall: 6-8 (15-10)
- South Florida: 6-8 (16-10)
- Connecticut: 6-8 (16-11)
- Cincinnati: 6-8 (15-11)
- St. John's: 5-9 (15-11)
- Rutgers: 4-10 (14-13)
- Providence: 4-10 (12-14)
- DePaul: 2-12 (8-18)