Big East Monday Primer: Post-Super Bowl EditionPosted by mlemaire on February 4th, 2013
The season is entering the home stretch and the games are getting more important by the day. To reflect that, we are putting together a Monday Primer which will basically recap important things from the weekend and then look ahead at important games during the week. Hope you enjoy!
What Happened This Weekend
1. Villanova undid all of the hard work they did in back-to-back wins over Louisville and Syracuse by losing at home to lowly Providence. The Friars had only nine players available and the Wildcats still couldn’t capitalize, shooting 27 percent from the field and making just 2-of-15 three-pointers. They had a chance down the stretch when they tied the game up with less than a minute to play but Bryce Cotton hit a big three to seal the win for the Friars. The Wildcats are young, so inconsistency isn’t unexpected, but it seems pretty clear this is not an NCAA Tournament team.
2. Pittsburgh scored the big upset of the weekend and added a good win to its resume by pulling away from No. 6 Syracuse in the second half. This really doesn’t even count as much of an upset considering Pitt has no business being unranked given their efficiency on both ends of the floor, but it is still an important win for the Panthers. Pitt is basically 10-deep, talented, and coach Jamie Dixon has the team rolling as they are winners of five of their last six. If they take care of business tonight against Seton Hall, they should be in great position for the home stretch.
3. It was the same old story this weekend for DePaul, which nearly staged a tough second-half comeback against Notre Dame only to lose by eight points in overtime. The Blue Demons have lost six straight and have just one conference win. Its still just his third season but given the lack of overall improvement in the league standings, the seat under coach Oliver Purnell might be getting a little warm. His team may need to show some signs of life if the program is going to give him another year to right the ship.
- Otto Porter Jr. (Georgetown). It would be almost unfair to the rest of the conference if Porter develops a reliable outside shot, and yet the sophomore is showing signs that such a shot is in progress. The Hoyas went 2-0 this week with solid wins over Seton Hall and St. John’s and Porter was a combined 4-of-7 from downtown in those games. In fact, after taking just 28 three-pointers in the first 14 games of the season, he has taken 24 three-pointers in the last six games, and he has made 13 of them. He is hard enough to guard as it is, so if he can consistently knock down open looks, well, look out.
- Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati). The Big East’s undisputed King of Chucking will never post efficient shooting numbers, but without his ability to create his own offense the Bearcats would be hopeless on that end of the floor.The Bearcats eked out close wins over Rutgers and Seton Hall this past week, as Kilpatrick went for 19 points and six rebounds and then 21 points and seven rebounds in those two games, respectively. The quality of opponent may have been nothing special, but that doesn’t discount how important his offense was to those Cincinnati wins.
- Shabazz Napier (Connecticut). It may not have always been pretty, but the Huskies went 3-0 this past week, including overtime wins over Providence and South Florida, and Napier was a big reason why. The junior point guard is at his best when he is attacking the hoop, and while his raw shooting numbers weren’t sparkling, he went to the free throw line 16 times in three games and that is why he managed at least 18 points in each, including 24 in last night’s win over the Bulls.
- Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche (Syracuse). The Orange go as its talented backcourt goes and since Carter-Williams and Triche have not been excellent recently, it shouldn’t be surprising that Syracuse has lost its last two games. The duo went a combined 18-of-61 (29 percent) from the field in those two losses and didn’t do a great job of taking care of the ball in either game. Both of these players are too talented to slump for very long, and because they attack the rim so well they will still get their buckets, but more judicious shooting or more made baskets would probably cure some of the Orange’s current woes.
- Ryan Arciadiacono (Villanova). The freshman combined for 25 points in the wins against Syracuse and Louisville, and then he combined for just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting in the team’s two losses last week. He also managed to make just 2-of-9 three-pointers in those two games and only attempted one free throw. His youth may excuse some of the inconsistency, but the Wildcats struggle enough offensively even when he is playing well, so when he isn’t, it shouldn’t be a shock to see ‘Nova lose.
- Peyton Siva (Louisville). Siva turned it around a little bit yesterday when he scored 14 points and had seven assists as the Cardinals thrashed Marquette and the Birds went 2-0 this week, but the senior point guard has not been himself. Last Monday against Pitt he managed just one field goal and undid many of his 10 assists by also contributing four turnovers. When Siva brings his A-game, there might not be a better point guard in the conference. But as of late, he has struggled shooting the ball, isn’t getting to the free-throw, and has been turning the ball over entirely too much. He may just be saving his best play for when the games truly matter, but Cardinals’ fans should hope he can play better than this.
Three games to watch this week
- Notre Dame at Syracuse, Monday, 7:00 PM ET. One of the biggest games of the week will happen tonight as the Fighting Irish travel to Syracuse to face an Orange team looking to get back to their winning ways. Notre Dame plays almost no defense, so the perimeter players for Syracuse should be able to break out of their slump. The key for Syracuse will be finding the shooters and sticking to them. Even without a player of Jack Cooley‘s caliber, the Orange still have the advantage inside, so if they don’t allow open shots, they should find a way to win.
- Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, Saturday, 6:00 PM EST. Something tells me this game is going to be both physical and ugly. Both teams love to guard and while the Panthers have a distinct depth advantage, their talent in the backcourt and on the wings may be neutralized against another guard and wing-heavy team. The Panthers are climbing quickly and winning this would go a long way toward improving their seeding for the NCAA Tournament.
- Louisville at Notre Dame, Saturday, 9:00 PM EST. Needless to say that after three consecutive wins the Fighting Irish do not have a good week ahead of them. After traveling to New York, at least they will get Louisville on their home floor but they will need to be ready to play. Rick Pitino had his team looking sharp in Sunday’s win over Marquette and Louisville’s defense might be able to contain Notre Dame’s prolific offense. If the Irish can crash the boards and keep their big men out of foul trouble, they may have a shot to win what should be a close game at home.