Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vinny Pezzimenti Moment -- Week 17

Villanova closed out the regular season winning games they had to win -- last Tuesday against South Florida and then on the road at Providence to put the Friars onto "The Big East Tournament Bubble" DePaul's loss to Pitt Sunday afternoon put the Friars back into the BET field. At this point it appears that the Wildcats will face the Orange again, this time on the floor at Madison Square Garden. This will make for an interesting symmetry for the season. Nova and Cuse have played mirror games (each winning on the other's home court), so it is fitting I guess that these two, blessed with much heralded freshmen classes, projected in the preseason to be Top 25 teams, but now on the bubble (stuff happens...) will meet for the rubber game that will most likely knock the loser off the bubble and into the NIT. Another season in the Big East...

The composite results can be found over at the New Big East Report, filed under "Power Poll (3/10/08)". My ballot for the Big East Blogger Poll this week:

1 - Georgetown
2 - Louisville
3 - Notre Dame
4 - Connecticut
5 - Marquette
6 - West Virginia
7 - Pittsburgh
8 - Villanova
9 - Syracuse
10 - Cincinnati
11 - Seton Hall
12 - Providence
13 - DePaul
14 - St. John's
15 - South Florida
16 - Rutgers

Who's Up...Who's Down...
Georgetown and Louisville met for their close out game. The Hoyas won and are rewarded with the regular season championship and the #1 seed in New York City. The Hoyas have been playing pretty good basketball after their mid-season funk. As for the next the rest, I have arranged them pretty much according to their seeds for the tournament. The schedule may not be completely balanced, but it is a good deal more balanced than the years going back to the last expansion. Going with the seed order meant I had to swap Pittsburgh and West Virginia (yet again). I know this is inconsistent with the result of their last head-to-head (earlier in the week no less...) but consistent with their finish in the conference. Levance Fields, despite being back, has to "recondition" on the fly, a difficult proposition at best, and along with the pressure on freshman DeJaun Blair, maybe responsible with the inconsistent Panther play down the stretch. Ugly road losses at Marquette, Notre Dame (who other than the Irish has not played ugly in South Bend this winter?) and West Virginia have marred an otherwise respectable (but not, since December anyway, especially remarkable) resume. Cincinnati is another team that has struggled through the last 2+ weeks of the season. The Bearcats have lost the last four games, their 45 point collapse in the delayed game Sunday had to be, for Mick Cronin and the Bearcat faithful, a very disappointing conclusion to a season that started with a road win in Louisville. I moved them down to the #10 spot, and moved Villanova and Syracuse up one to fill the gap. A 2 point win over cross-state rival Seton Hall that had Coach Fred Hill pumping his fist and openly celebrating in the face of Bobby Gonzalez, the Pirate coach notwithstanding, I left Rutgers holding down the #16 spot. The Scarlet Knights' RPI has been South of 200 for much of the season, climbing into the 170s only in the past week and a half. There is obviously separation between them and #15 South Florida. The on-the-court antics of Pirate HC Bobby Gonzalez and Scarlet Knights HC Fred Hill were apparently outrageous enough to draw several scathing pieces from New Jersey newspaper sports columnists, including the Star Ledger's Steve Politi and the The Record's John Rowe. The Courier News' Jerry Carino also alluded to the antics in his 3/9/08 blog entry, "Shot to the Heart", but more illuminating possibly, are the fan comments at the end of his piece.

This week's OWs...
I was impressed with Joe Alexander's 61 point scoring outburst over the past week's 2 games. That the 'Eers went 2-0 over the span was not a drawback at all. Alexander scored 32 points (10-16, 0-1, 12-15) against Pittsburgh on Monday night and then came back to socre another 29 against the Johnnies (8-19, 0-1, 13-15) Saturday night. His PPWS (1.36 & 1.11) was above his season average in both games. His eFG (62.5 & 42.1) may have been down for the NYC game, but it was tempered by his double-double (10 rebounds). My ROW is an old reliable, DeJuan Blair of Pittsburgh. Blair.

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