Syracuse and West Virginia each won a pair of games in their respective preseason tournaments last week. The Orange, who are ranked No. 16 in this week's Associated Press poll, will meet Texas Tech tonight in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Hoops Classic at Madison Square Garden. The game, which will be carried on ESPN2, will showcase two Hall of Fame coaches, SU's Jim Boeheim and Texas Tech's Bob Knight. The Mountaineers, who are 14th in the AP poll, won home games on Saturday and Sunday in the Guardians Classic. They will play Texas in the semifinals in Kansas City on Nov. 21.
UConn Heads To Maui
Connecticut, the highest ranked Big East team, will play in the Maui Invitational, which begins on Monday. En route to Hawaii, the Huskies will stop and open their regular season at Pepperdine (ESPNU) on Friday. Four of the eight teams in the Maui field are ranked in the AP top 10. UConn is No. 3 followed by Michigan State (No. 4), Gonzaga (No. 9) and Arizona (No. 10). In the first round on Monday, Connecticut meets Arkansas. ESPN2 will televise at 11:30 p.m. EST.
Other Big East Squads Open This Weekend
This Friday and Saturday are the busiest nights for Big East openers. The new Big East squads – Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and USF – all begin play at home. On Friday, Marquette hosted Rice in the first round of the Pepsi Blue & Gold Classic while USF battled Alcorn State. On Saturday, Cincinnati hosts Murray State, Bradley plays at DePaul, and Louisville meets Tennessee-Martin.
Sports Illustrated Is High On The Big East
Four Big East teams are ranked in the top 12 of Sports Illustrated's preseason top 20 in the magazine's college basketball preview issue, which hits the newsstands today. Connecticut is third, followed by Villanova (10th), Louisville (11th) and West Virginia (12th). The Huskies are one of Sports Illustrated's four featured regional covers.
Connecticut Goes 3-0 to open the Season at the Preseason WNIT
Connecticut has opened the 2005-06 women's basketball season as part of the Preseason WNIT. The Huskies defeated Marist, 71-45, in first round action on Nov. 12 and then went on to take down Indiana State, 86-43, in the quarterfinal round on Nov. 14. Most recently, the Huskies defeated former Big East rival Boston College, 60-46, to advance to the Preseason WNIT Finals. UConn will face Oklahoma on Nov. 20 at 2:00 p.m. at Gampel Pavilion for the tournament title.
UConn has already played three games before another Big East team has opened its season. Connecticut has played in the preseason tournament for the third time, having claimed the titles in 1997 over Nebraska and 2001 against Vanderbilt.
Last season, Notre Dame cruised to the Preseason Title with wins over Illinois State, Nebraska, then-No. 6 Duke and then-No. 10 Ohio State. A Big East team has been represented in the Preseason WNIT since the tournament's inception in 1994.
14 Big East Teams Open the Season this Weekend
All but two Big East teams will open its seasons this weekend - Connecticut which began play at the Preseason WNIT last weekend and Rutgers who will begin play on Nov. 25 at the Junkanoo Jam in the Grand Bahamas. Nine teams open on Friday night, including Big East newcomer DePaul, who is hosting its own tournament. Conference teams will participate in six tournaments over the weekend – Pittsburgh, DePaul, West Virginia, USF, Seton Hall and Connecticut.
Several Players Honored as Preseason Candidates for Select Prestigious Awards
The Big East has had six players selected as preseason candidates for the Wooden Award, on a list of 30 possible nominees. Rutgers' fifth-year senior Cappie Pondexter, a two-time Wooden Award national ballot finalist, Connecticut seniors Ann Strother and Barbara Turner, DePaul senior Khara Smith, Louisville junior Jazz Covington and Notre Dame senior Megan Duffy were all named to the preseason list.
The league also had four players named to the State Farm Wade Trophy Candidate list. The national player of the year award has an early ballot consisting of 25 players from 22 different schools. Strother, Pondexter and Smith are all repeat candidates on the preseason ballot. Notre Dame's Duffy appears on the ballot for the first time. The Big East has had five winners since the awards inception in 1978 – 2003 (Diana Taurasi, UConn), 2001 (Sue Bird, UConn), 1996 (Jen Rizzotti, UConn), 1995 (Rebecca Lobo, UConn) and 1987 (Shelly Pennefeather, Villanova).
Four Big East Teams Head over the Ocean
Three Big East schools will take in some sun as they head south for season-opening tournaments. DePaul will take part in the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii from Nov. 25-27. While in Hawaii, the Blue Demons will face Eastern Michigan, with Cal State Northridge, Texas A&M, Idaho St., Hawaii, Washington St. or Wisconsin as other possible opponents.
Rutgers will head south for the second straight season, this year taking part in the Junkanoo Jam at the Grand Bahamas Island. The Scarlet Knights will be up against North Florida and can possibly face Iowa State or N.C. State in the Consolation/Championship games.
In the month of December, Louisville will be heading to Cancun, Mexico as part of the Caribbean Classic on Dec. 19-20. While there, the Cardinals will see Texas Tech and Western Michigan. Also in December, USF will take part in the San Juan Shootout in San Juan, Puerto Rico from Dec. 19-21. The Bulls will play at Puerto Rico-Mayaguez and then face Northern Arizona and Colorado to close out the tournament.