- Dana O'Neil, ESPN Senior Writer
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For once there wasn’t a whole lot of moving around in the rankings. Maybe that means now that the regular season is nearly over, things are starting to settle down. Or it’s just the calm before a final storm.
The only minor change: Marquette jumps a slot above Notre Dame. That’s more of a nod to how solid the Golden Eagles have looked recently.
1. Syracuse: This is how you know things are going right for the Orange: Syracuse finally beat Louisville. It wasn’t pretty but it ended a possible seven-game win streak for the Cards.
2. Georgetown: The Hoyas’ defense has become downright smothering. In the last five games, four opponents failed to muster better than 35 percent shooting against Georgetown.
4. Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish came from 20 points down to beat Villanova, a testimony to Notre Dame’s intestinal fortitude and ability to knock down 3-pointers.
5. Louisville: The Cardinals didn’t look pretty against DePaul, needing overtime to dispose of the Blue Demons. Louisville will have to get its motor running much earlier against a hungry Cincinnati team on Thursday.
6. South Florida: Time to see what the Bulls are really made of. South Florida, riding a four-game win streak and now 10-4 in league play, heads to Syracuse on Wednesday. Regardless of that result, USF is guaranteed its first winning Big East season, a big step for the program.
7. Cincinnati: The Bearcats are fighting to prove their NCAA worth. Beating Seton Hall and Providence, as Cincinnati did this past week, won’t carry nearly as much weight as beating Louisville on Thursday.
8. West Virginia: The Mountaineers turned the backyard brawl -- perhaps the last one -- against Pittsburgh into a pillow fight, turning a tight game at the half into a rout. This is a big week for WVU, with a visit to Notre Dame on Wednesday and a home game against Marquette on Friday.
9. Seton Hall: Time is running out on the Pirates’ NCAA tourney hopes. Seton Hall needs to rack up wins and fast. Beating Georgetown on Tuesday would help considerably.
10. Connecticut: Jim Calhoun will be a spectator when the Huskies visit Villanova on Monday night. Doesn’t matter who coaches; UConn needs a win and needs one desperately. Even more, it could use a win at home against Syracuse on Saturday.
11. Villanova: Down two starters, the Wildcats nearly pulled off the upset against Notre Dame, but this has been a season of "nearly." Villanova instead dropped its second in a row and now hosts UConn on Big Monday, in an all-name/no-game matchup.
12. St. John’s: The Red Storm beat head coach Steve Lavin’s former team without Lavin on the sidelines. The result probably says more about UCLA’s misfortunes than anything, but it is certainly a nice confidence boost for a St. John’s team trying to finish a difficult season on a good note.
13. Rutgers: Mired in a five-game losing streak, the Scarlet Knights’ reward is a date with its third ranked opponent in a row -- Marquette on Wednesday night. Not good for a young team trying to find traction.
14. Pittsburgh: The brief hopes that Tray Woodall’s return would change the Panthers’ fortunes have been all but dashed. Pitt, which lost its shooting touch in the second half against USF on Sunday night, now has lost four in a row.
15. DePaul: Oliver Purnell was happy to see his team’s effort against Louisville but not so happy with the result. DePaul blew a 10-point halftime lead and lost in OT, its 36th straight loss to a ranked opponent.
16. Providence: The Friars face DePaul on Saturday in a fight to get out of the Big East basement. Don’t think that doesn’t matter.