Posted by Will Tucker on January 29th, 2013
- Marquette ushered in its shiny new Top 25 ranking with a 63-50 win over USF in the Bradley Center last night. The Golden Eagles improved to 6-1 and moved into a tie with Syracuse atop the Big East standings. Vander Blue followed up his impressive dunk on LaDontae Henton with a more comprehensive performance against the Bulls, scoring a career-high 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting. Blue is the first Marquette player to eclipse 30 in a Big East game since Steve Novak did it for Tom Crean back in 2006. With Louisville finally getting off the schneid last night, Marquette’s trip to the River City on Sunday suddenly carries great consequence for the top of the league standings.
- Were it not for some creative environmental engineering from Marquette’s athletic department personnel, Vander’s big game would have never been possible. The Bradley Center Bat that terrorized Ed Cooley during the Providence-Marquette game over the weekend was evicted in an appropriately absurd spectacle mere hours before the USF game. Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal reports: “Marquette officials replicated the opening light/music show that precedes every game, complete with the chords of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” roaring. The bat responded, swooping down from the heavens and then settling in the building’s lobby. That’s where a waiting team of ‘bat experts’ caught the critter.” Bat Experts: Marquette’s new 6th man.
- Villanova’s 6’6″ sophomore shooting guard Darrun Hilliard was recognized as the Big East Player of the Week yesterday. Against heavily favored Louisville and Syracuse teams, Hilliard shot 64.7% from the field while averaging 18 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. While Ryan Arcidiacono and JayVaughn Pinkston received a bulk of the (sparse) hype around this team prior to last week, Hilliard has outperformed both of late and may hold the key to Villanova’s bubbling NCAA Tournament run.
- Speaking of Villanova, Mike Aresco told reporters yesterday that the league is negotiating a possible 2014 exit for the Catholic Seven. Aresco is recruiting a 12th school to join the remaining Big East, and it seems that group is willing to make concessions on contractual exit fees and waiting period so long as they can keep the Big East brand. Aresco also described the schism (no pun intended) as amicable, and seemed enthusiastic about the possibility of non-conference scheduling between Big East and Catholic Seven schools.
- Membership logistics weren’t the only item discussed after Aresco’s appearance at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Middletown, Connecticut (which, having lived in Middletown, sounds like something only Mike Aresco could get excited about). The Big East commissioner also dismissed any lingering hopes that UConn would appear in this year’s Big East Tournament. In December, university president Susan Herbst argued that UConn’s participation in the Big East Tournament would be good for conference solidarity. I tend to agree. When eight of the top nine teams in the current Big East standings won’t be in the Big East in two years, upholding UConn’s retroactive punishment seems like the ultimate case of the tail wagging the dog under the circumstances. But that’s for another discussion. For now, the Huskies’ season ends on March 9.