MBB: Big East Notebook, Feb. 26

Game of the Week

Louisville at Syracuse – Saturday, 11 a.m.

Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned matchup between Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim? With a double-bye in the Big East tournament on the line for the Cards and the Orange, this game should pack plenty of intensity. Despite Louisville’s No. 8 position in the rankings, the Cardinals are just 4-3 in Big East road games. Syracuse, normally highly protective of its home court, fell to No. 11 Georgetown Saturday at the Carrier Dome, so hesitate for a moment before chalking up an early win for the Orange.

Player of the Week

Shabazz Napier, Jr. G, Connecticut

Napier scored 27 points – including 11 in overtime – in a 73-66 win against Cincinnati on Thursday and followed that up with 28 points on Saturday, as UConn dismantled DePaul 81-69. Napier has led the Huskies to four wins in their last five games and has averaged 17.2 points and 4.6 assists per game this year. The Roxbury, Mass., native is shooting a career-best 41.1 percent from long distance and 82.6 percent at the foul line.

Georgetown alone at the top

With their gritty road win over Syracuse on Saturday, the Hoyas are now 11-3 and are alone in first place. The last four games will not come easy for Georgetown as it tries to protect its No. 1 seed. In addition to playing a streaking UConn squad on the road this Wednesday, the Hoyas must play at Villanova and then host Syracuse. The battle for the top spot in the standings may very well come down to the final game.

Providence catching fire late

Don’t look now, but Providence is getting hot at the right time. The Friars, after opening the Big East 2-7, have won five of the last six and stand at a respectable 7-8. This is the first time since 2009 that Providence has won more than four conference games. With games remaining against St. John’s, Seton Hall and UConn, do not be shocked to see Ed Cooley’s bunch break .500 for the year.

And with coveted recruit Ricardo Ledo suiting up next season for the Friars and the prospect that leading scorer Bryce Cotton (20.1 ppg) may stay for his senior year, Providence could pose a true threat to opponents in 2013-14.

Syracuse retires Anthony’s jersey

Carmelo Anthony only played one year at Syracuse before moving on to the NBA, but it turned out one year was all he needed to justify going pro.

The New York Knicks star’s No. 15 jersey was retired Saturday at the Carrier Dome, due mainly to his efforts to secure the Orange a national championship in 2003.

Anthony averaged 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game that season and brought Syracuse its first ever championship. He has since won two Olympic gold medals and has been selected to six NBA All-Star games.

Seven Big East teams in Lunardi’s latest bracket

As of Sunday, ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi has seven Big East teams qualifying for the NCAA tournament. The highest seeded Big East teams are currently Syracuse and Louisville, with each claiming a No. 3 seed. The lowest seed is No. 8 Cincinnati, and Marquette is sitting at No. 5.

St. John’s is on Lunardi’s “First Four Out” list, so if the Red Storm can earn a couple of quality wins to close out the year, the Big East could have eight teams in the Big Dance. The average seed of all seven teams is 5.1. The Big Ten, which also has seven teams in Lunardi’s bracket, has an average seed of 4.6.

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