Game of the Week: No. 8/8 Notre Dame vs. No. 2/2 Connecticut, Feb. 19, 1 p.m.
Both the Huskies and the Irish rolled last week. Connecticut (25-1, 12-0 Big East) beat Providence 68-38 on Feb. 12 and No. 14/12 Oklahoma 86-45 on Valentine’s Day.
The Irish (22-4, 11-1 Big East) scored victories over Seton Hall 89-38 on Feb. 8 and Rutgers 71-49 on Feb. 12. With a win, Notre Dame would catch Connecticut in the Big East standings, while the Huskies could further assert their dominance of the conference with yet another victory over a ranked team.
No. 18/18 Georgetown vs. No. 10/11 DePaul, Feb. 20, 4:30 p.m.
In this Big East top-four matchup, both squads are jockeying for better seeding in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Demons (24-3, 11-1 Big East) rebounded from their 89-66 loss to Connecticut on Feb. 5 with a 64-56 win Saturday over No. 21/22 Marquette and Rutgers, 66-62, on Feb. 15. DePaul will welcome a Georgetown team (20-6, 8-4 Big East) looking to bounce back in its own right after a 75-71 loss to No. -/25 St. John’s.
Player of the Week: Lindsay Kimmel, Villanova
In a 70-49 loss at Syracuse on Feb. 12, the sharpshooting junior guard scored a career-high 21 points off seven three-pointers.
Kimmel topped that performance three days later with 23 points to lead Villanova to a 64-44 win over Cincinnati, the Wildcats’ first Big East win of the season. She had seven more three-pointers in that game, including a shot with 2:21 left in the game to give Villanova a 25-point lead.
Huskies have three recruits in McDonalds All-American Game
Connecticut has certainly been the premier team in the Big East conference over the past few years, and from the looks of its class of 2011 recruits, it’s going to stay that way.
The Huskies have a trio of incoming freshmen set to lead the West team in the annual McDonald’s All-American Game, which will be played on March 30.
Guard Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the nation’s No. 1 high school player according to ESPN HoopGurlz, comes to Connecticut from Mater Dei High School and competed in the FIBA Under-17 World Championships last summer.
Another guard, Brianna Banks out of Newnan, Ga., ranks 24th overall and sixth for her position. She led her club team, Essence Purple, to an impressive run in the 2010 Nike Nationals.
Forward Kiah Stokes rounds out the Huskies’ new big three as the No. 42 player in the country. With the departure of senior forward Maya Moore, the program’s all-time leading scorer, Connecticut will be looking to fill a huge void next season.
These three promising athletes represent what having a coach like Geno Auriemma and a team with such great history means for the Huskies. As long as Connecticut keeps winning, it will keep pulling in the top recruits.
Cardinals flying high, Mountaineers free falling
Last week’s Feb. 13 matchup between Louisville (16-9, 7-4 Big East) and West Virginia (20-6, 6-6 Big East) had major implications for both squads. The 57-47 Louisville home win moved the Cardinals into a tie with Marquette for fourth place in the Big East and got them four votes in the ESPN/USA TODAY poll.
After heading into conference play at 8-3, Louisville has struggled against the top teams, but knocked off the teams it was supposed to beat. The upset win helped the Cardinals build momentum heading into the final stretch, with DePaul and Syracuse still on the schedule.
West Virginia followed its current losing trend by dropping its third conference game in a row and fifth of its last six. The Mountaineers are holding on to their No. 21/20 ranking thanks to a 19-1 start, but have suffered all six of their losses in Big East play and stand at ninth in the conference.
With two more big games against top-25 opponents, Notre Dame and St. John’s, West Virginia needs to turn things around quickly in order to stay ranked and build momentum heading into the Big East Tournament.