Top 5 Big East teams through Week 5 — Tuesday Top 5

Photo Courtesy of News House/Flickr

1. Syracuse (8-0) – The Orange remain unbeaten and pick up a non-conference top-10 win over Florida.

2. Louisville (7-0) – Peyton Siva and his Louisville Cardinals look very impressive early, like Cuse, picked up a big win in the Big East/SEC Challenge over No. 19 Vanderbilt.

3. Marquette (7-0) – Have to move the Golden Eagles up in the rankings after winning a road game at the Kohl Center over Wisconsin. It’s rare to win on the road against Bo Ryan’s Badgers and it needs to be recognized.

4. Connecticut (7-1)Ryan Boatright has already started to help this team and now the Huskies can also move up in the rankings next week if they beat newly-ranked Harvard this week.

5. Pittsburgh (7-1) – Still waiting for Jamie Dixon and Ashton Gibbs to really make this team move. After a weird loss to Long Beach State, the Panthers have won five straight. A positive is Pitt doesn’t play a ranked opponent until 2012, which means Pitt should be racking up more and more wins.

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Big East/SEC Challenge isn’t even close — Weekend Review

The Big East, shocker, dominated the SEC, shocker!

Kentucky blows out St. John’s – The Red Storm got blocked 18 times and the Wildcats look like a team that could win a national title, while St. John’s is a young team with a lot of potential. God’sgift Achiuwa had a strong performance with 18 points and 10 boards.

Georgetown upsets No. 12 Alabama – Jason Clark is doing exactly what he has to do and that is dominate for the Hoyas. The senior guard had 22 points, while big man Henry Sims has provided a nice contribution this year. The Hoyas weren’t projected for their typical high seed, but this could be a season changer for G’Town.

Syracuse tops the SEC’s best, Florida – The two top teams in each conference hit the court at the Carrier Dome and better team prevailed. Fab Melo has really impressed me this season and I believe Cuse is a team that can be a Final Four contender. With another tough season of Big East basketball ahead, this win against at top-10 team will go a long way.

Louisville downs No. 19 Vanderbilt – Peyton Siva is clutch, plain and simple. Louisville has impressed me early and I think Siva has the chance to have a special year. He’s proven that he is capable of big-game moments and this Cardinal squad has a backcourt that can compete with the Big East’s best.

Marquette picks up big road win over Wisconsin – No one wins at the Kohl Center, I mean nobody. That is unless you play in the Big East. Even without starting point guard Junior Cadougan, who was suspended for team violations, the Golden Eagles still were able to knock off the No. 7 Badgers. Marquette could be another team that joins the ranks of – Cuse, UConn, and L’Ville as the tops of the Big East in 2011-2012.

Providence 76, South Carolina 67

Ole Miss 70, DePaul 68

Seton Hall 81, Auburn 59

Cincinnati 57, Georgia 51

24 Mississippi State 75, West Virginia 62

10 Connecticut 75, Arkansas 62

17 Pittsburgh 61, Tennessee 16

LSU 55, Rutgers 50

Top 5 Big East teams through Week 4 — Tuesday Top 5

1. Syracuse (7-0)

Photo Courtesy of SU Basketball/Flickr

The Orange look good to start off the year with a NIT Season Tip-Off Championship and solid wins over Virginia Tech and Stanford, but the real test comes Friday, Dec. 2 vs. Florida. Syracuse has the deepest team I’ve seen in a while with 10 guys that can contribute. I like the slimmer versions of Dion Waiters and Fab Melo to go along with a great core that includes Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine, and Brandon Triche.

2. Louisville (7-0)
Louisville remains unbeaten and got a nice victory over Butler without starting point guard Peyton Siva. With Siva running the show I think the Cardinals could be an explosive team. For that to be true Louisville also needs to stay healthy, especially the strong backcourt of Siva, Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric.

3. UConn (6-1)
Blowing a 17-point lead and losing to Central Florida was a wakeup call to the defending National Champions. It was the first tournament loss in a long time, but showed the gaps they need to fill without Kemba Walker. The next day in an overtime win over No. 20 Florida State, the Huskies may have found it in Ryan Boatright. The freshman guard is another playmaker and can help running the team with Shabazz Napier being an improved scorer this season.

4. Marquette (6-0)
I’ve been saying this all offseason, that Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder will be the one-two punch that carries the Golden Eagles. They are undefeated, but still they haven’t played anyone. Besides the two-point nail biter against Norfolk State, Marquette hasn’t been challenged. They will this Saturday though, when they take on the No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers on the road at the tough-to-win-at Kohl Center. If they win, a slide up in the rankings is likely.

5. Pittsburgh (5-1)
The Panthers took a rough 86-76 home loss to Long Beach State early in the season, but have recovered with three straight. I still like this team. Ashton Gibbs is a great player to have at the center of your team and if Khem Birch can do what he’s done in his first two starts (10 rebounds vs. Penn; 11 vs. Robert Morris –both wins), Pitt might have a shot this year.

Tuesday Top 5: Big East games for 2011-2012

1. Syracuse at UConn Feb. 25

The matchup between the projected two top teams in the Big East this season. This could be the last Big East game between the two teams.

2. Pitt at UConn Mar. 2

UConn and Pitt have had memorable games in the past and this game should live up to the billing. It will be the last regular game of the season and both teams should be at the top of the Big East stadings.

3. Marquette at Syracuse Jan. 7

These two teams played a pair of great games, including an awesome third-round game in the NCAA Tournament. With big late-game shooters, Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom and Syracuse’s Scoot Jardine, it would be pure gold if this game is tight in the last few minutes.

4. Cincinnati at West Virginia Jan. 21

This road game for the Bearcats is in between a rough three-game stretch, which begins with a road game at UConn and ends with a home game against Syracuse. If Cincy wants to be considered a top Big East team this season a win at Morgantown could be a big boost.

5. Louisville at Marquette Jan. 16

The Cardinals and Golden Eagles are in the next tier of Big East teams after UConn, Syracuse, and Pitt. This Big East conference game could place one of those teams into the top tier.

Cuse, UConn tie at top of preseason rankings

2011-12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll

4screens/Flickr

1. Connecticut (7) 209
Syracuse (5) 209
3. Louisville (3) 201
4. Pittsburgh (1) 188
5. Cincinnati 169
6. Marquette 155
7. West Virginia 132
8. Villanova 127
9. Notre Dame 114
10. Georgetown 104
11. Rutgers 75

Alan Maglaque/Flickr

12. St. John’s 71
13. Seton Hall 56
14. USF 43
15. Providence 40
16. DePaul 27

courtesy of BigEast.org

Tuesday Top 5: Places to Play/Watch

*Did not include Madison Square Garden because it is not St. John’s official home and every team plays there each year. 

KFC Yum! Center, Louisville

Sports Addiction/Flickr

Awesome new building that opened last year for Louisville. Of course nothing could fully replace Freedom Hall, but this is a nice substitute.

Bradley Center, Marquette

Willy P/Flickr

Been a great home for the Golden Eagles. Fans are more excited there than the Bucks fans are.

Harry A. Gampel Paviilion, Connecticut

Sftrajan/Flickr

Not a bad seat in the house. Also never a bad game either, both UConn men and women play there.

Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh

Arthur Wessel/Flickr

The Zoo makes this arena, one of the most underrated fans sections in college sports. I love watching games when Pitt plays at home.

Carrier Dome, Syracuse

Paul Katcher/Flickr

Playing in front of a maximum crowd of 34,616 people is enough for anyone to want to play there.

Honorable mention: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence; WVU Coliseum, West Virginai; Edmond P. Joyce Center, Notre Dame; Verizon Center, Georgetown; Carnesecca Arena, St. John’s

Tuesday Top 5: Big East names

5. Cashmere Wright, Jr. Cincinnati

When you have the name “cash” in your name, you better be able to shoot. Cashmere Wright drills 35 percent of his three’s, but only 41 percent overall. Sorry man, that’s only good for fifth place.

4. Kiwi Gardner, Fr., Providence

Kiwi Gardner has some serious handles. I needed to get him into this blog somehow. It’s just that Providence sucks. But this kid is fun to watch with a name to match. Sad this is, his little brother, probably has more handles and a better name: Peewee.
3. Jawanza Poland, Jr., South Florida

Warsaw is the capital of Poland, but in the winter the coolest Poland by far is Jawanza. After seeing this dunk, Poland should legally change the name of Warsaw to Jawanza. Also Jawanza, when I first saw it, reminded me of the movie Juwanna Mann. Also I am watching season six of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm with Vivica A. Fox, who plays Mann’s teammate and love interest. Weird movie.

2. Sir’Dominic Pointer, Fr., St. John’s

I love the apostrophe. Even more I love the title “Sir” in the name. Even if someone doesn’t like him, automatically they show respect for him by calling him by his name. Pure genius. If the prefix “Sir” doesn’t change on in names by 2020, I’ve lost faith in humanity. Sir’Dominic Pointer, would hands down be the No. 1 choice.

1. God’sgift Achiuwa, Jr., St. John’s

God’sgift Achiuwa is by far the best name in the Big East this season. The junior college transfer joins the Red Storm this year. Can you imagine Steve Lavin discussing this year’s recruiting class?
“How’s your recruiting class looking this year, coach?”
“Looks great, I got God’sgift.”
The only thing is there isn’t any good videos of him on YouTube. Shame on you, YouTube, shame on you.

Honorable mention: Shabazz Napier, Soph., UConn; Baye Moussa Keita, Soph., Syracuse; Jared Swoopshire, Jr., Louisville; Vander Blue, Soph., Marquette; Jabarie Hinds, Fr., West Virginia