A new AP poll out Monday put the Big East in focus, placing Pittsburgh at #7, Marquette #12, Georgetown #14 and West Virginia climbing up to #23 on the heels of their upset over UCLA on Saturday.
Well, as soon as the poll (see sidebar below) was released, the Big East showed once again that no poll can contain the diversity of talent and overall competition in what's shaping up to be the best top to bottom conference in the nation. Results and recaps follow.
Georgetown 71 West Virginia 53 - Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green continue to demolish the competition in the Big East. Last night, Hibbert scored 20 points and Green had 15 as the Hoyas shut down the visiting Mountaineers, holding them to 38% shooting for the game. The superiority on the interior was evident from the rebounding stats: Georgetown 35, West Va. 19
The #14 Hoyas are on a significant roll. With their smashing win over #23 West Virginia, they've grabbed 8 straight wins and have surged to within a half game of conference leader, Pitt. With just five games remaining, Georgetown will try to avenge a 74-69 defeat at Pitt from Jan. 13 when the Panthers come calling Feb. 24. That game could determine who wins the Big East and gets the automatic tournament bid.
The same day the Mountaineers reach the Top 25, they suffer their worst loss of the season, equaling the 18-point defeat at Marquette, 63-81, on Jan 13. Ironic, isn't it?
Louisville 66 Pittsburgh 53 - David Padgett was the only Cardinal in double figures (16), but it was enough to upset the Big East-leading Pitt Panthers on their home floor. Louisville's scrappy defense forced 19 turnovers and limited Aaron Gray to just 12 points. While Gray earned his 12th double-double with 10 rebounds, he was the only Panther to shoot better than 50% from the field (5-8).
It was likely the biggest win of the season for Rick Pitino's kids, and it couldn't have come at a better time. With the focus on quality wins down the stretch, the Cardinals road win over #7 Pitt surely will make the right impression on the NCAA Tournament committee. Louisville improves to 4th place in the rugged Big East at 8-4, (18-8 overall), but there's still work to be done, as they travel to Marquette on Saturday. A win there would virtually assure the Cardinals of a turn at the Big Dance.
Texas 83 Oklahoma St. 54 - Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry have tried to carry the Cowboys this season, but the team's dependence on the two stars has begun to show some strain. Boggan and Curry scored 28 points combined, but shot just 38% from the field. Meanwhile, the Longhorns were throwing it down at a 56% clip, including 8-15 from behind the arc.
Freshman sensation Kevin Durant had 21 points and 12 rebounds for his 15th double-double (he's averaging 25 and 11.6) of the season. He's scored in double figures in all 25 games, but the quirky Longhorns still trail Texas A&M by 2 games in the Big 12 standings at 8-3. Kansas is second at 8-2 and the Aggies are 9-1.
#17 Oklahoma St. dropped to 5-5 and 19-6 overall.
Duke, which has dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time in 11 years, has lost 4 in a row, but one wonders how much resentment is directed at coach K by the voters, who continued to keep Alabama and Arizona in the Top 25 despite similar slipups in the past.
I can't believe I'm actually defending coach K (no, I can't spell his name) and the Duke program, but while the Devils may not be a dominant squad this season, I'd still take them against half of the teams ranked 15-25 and especially against the likes of Alabama and Arizona. [rant] The AP poll may be a lot of things, but one thing it certainly is not is unbiased. [/rant]