The much-anticipated Big East Conference schedule got off to a scintillating start this week. On Tuesday, Marquette handed No. 2 ranked Connecticut its first loss of the season, 94-79. On Wednesday, two of the three league contests went into overtime. It took two overtime periods before Pittsburgh prevailed over Notre Dame, 100-97, which kept the Panthers unbeaten (12-0). Seton Hall rallied from a 20-point second half deficit to edge St. John's in overtime, 69-61. Also, Cincinnati earned its first Big East with an 82-60 decision over DePaul.
Novak Enjoys Record Setting Debut
In Tuesday's win over Connecticut, Marquette's Steve Novak made a Big East debut like no other player in the history of the league. The senior forward, who entered the game with a 13.8 scoring average, poured in 41 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. His scoring total shattered the league record for points by a player in his first Big East game. The old mark was 30 points, set by Georgetown's Allen Iverson and Notre Dame's Troy Murphy.
Rolling Up Non-conference Wins
Big East teams have only 10 non-league games remaining in the 2005-06 season. To date, conference squads have amassed a 145-40 record and a .784 winning percentage. That's the Big East's best non-league record since '93-94 (.800).
Big East Basketball to Take Part in CBS Tripleheader
The Big East men's and women's teams will be featured in a tripleheader televised nationally by CBS on Jan. 7. National top 10 women's teams, Rutgers and Connecticut, will be shown at noon and 2:00 p.m. ET, respectively. The second-ranked UConn men's team will host LSU at 4:00 p.m. ET.
No. 8/8 Rutgers will play at No. 11/13 Michigan State, the national runner-up in 2005. That contest will be broadcast in 60 percent of the country. The No. 7/7 Connecticut women's team will meet top-ranked Tennessee in Knoxville for a game that will be shown nationally.
Big East Women's Basketball More Competitive Than Ever
The Big East women's basketball has seen a rise in the level of competition since the conference grew to 16 teams in 2005-06. With league play opening the first week of December and now restarting in January, several games have been closely contested.
Play resumed on Jan. 3, with the first game heading into overtime. West Virginia dropped a 67-61 overtime decision at Seton Hall. Later that evening, Big East newcomer Cincinnati lost its first-half lead, falling 64-51 to No. 8/8 Rutgers. No. 13/11 DePaul won a hard-fought game against Pittsburgh, an 81-75 victory over the Panthers. Also, Louisville triumphed at Syracuse, beating the Orange, 90-73, in the Cardinals' first-ever league game.
The close competition continued on Jan. 4, as St. John's upended No. 12/12 Notre Dame, 66-63, on the Red Storm's home court. Connecticut defeated Georgetown, 80-37 at home.
The Big East Regional Basketball Television Package Returns to a Local Television Near You
The 2005-06 Big East Regional Sports Television package begins this weekend with USF traveling to Pittsburgh on Jan. 8 at 2:00 p.m. The regional package includes eight regular season league contests that will appear on various regional sports networks in Big East markets and other outlets throughout the country on a week-to-week basis.
This week's game will appear on FSN Pitt (Live); Comcast SportsNet Chicago (Live); CATCH 47 - Tampa, Fla. (Live & Delay); Comcast/CSS (Live); FCS Pacific (Live); Cox Sports Television - La., Fla. & Texas (Live). Please check your local listings.