Not much holiday feasting in the Big East. Most teams are in that sort of idle mode where they either don’t play or play only a beatable opponent. The big winners of the week: Marquette (which bounced back from its loss to Florida to beat rival Wisconsin) and Villanova (which beat rival Saint Joseph’s). The Wildcats may be struggling but there is nothing like a win in the Holy War to make the bad feelings go away.
1. Syracuse: The Orange continue on cruise control, beating woefully overmatched Monmouth. Syracuse hasn’t been challenged this month and may not be until next Saturday, when it faces Temple at Madison Square Garden.
2. Louisville: The Cards' defense can be downright cruel, as it was against Missouri-Kansas City. Louisville not only allowed only 47 points and forced 22 turnovers, but Russ Smith was Russdiculous, with 31 points. We’ll see if UL and Smith can do the same against a much-better Memphis squad on the road this weekend.
3. Cincinnati: The Bearcats are 9-0, but face perhaps their toughest week of the season. Along with a game against an OK Marshall team, Cincinnati goes toe-to-toe with Xavier. The first game between the two schools after the brawl will be a difficult but necessary distraction for the Bearcats to handle.
4. Georgetown: The glass half-full approach: The Hoyas play great defense, evidenced by the 40 points Towson mustered against them. The glass half-empty read: What is up with Georgetown’s offense? The Hoyas scored just 46 against Towson, a team that won one game last season, and then went for 89 against Longwood. Maybe a 60 to 70 average would be a good place to aim for?
5. Notre Dame: The Irish coasted by Brown and now after a week off, face in-state rival Purdue in Indianapolis. Unfortunately for Notre Dame’s strength of schedule, it’s not a game that does much. The Boilermakers (4-5) are struggling mightily this season. Notre Dame should win.
6. Pittsburgh: The Panthers appear to be getting back to their blue-collar ways. Three of Pitt’s past four opponents failed to score 50 points. This team should coast into the holidays on an eight-game winning streak.
7. Marquette: Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan need to score for the Golden Eagles to win, which is why that victory over Wisconsin matters. The backcourt accounted for 35 of Marquette’s 60 points, driving at the Badgers with ease.
8. Connecticut: Aside from the win, the good news from the game against Harvard: The Huskies can survive when Shabazz Napier doesn’t score. The guard had just six points, instead opting for the role of playmaker with nine assists. DeAndre Daniels, a player Kevin Ollie desperately needs to win league games, had 23.
9. Providence: The Friars had the week off and won’t return to action until Dec. 18. When they do, Arizona transfer Sidiki Johnson and freshman Kris Dunn will join them. That’s great news for Ed Cooley, whose team has fared pretty well considering the depleted roster.
10. DePaul: The Blue Demons have quietly won five in a row, including a 34-point win over Milwaukee and a nice road blowout of an 8-1 Arizona State team. During that run, DePaul has found a good scoring rhythm, averaging 80 points per game.
11. St. John’s: The Red Storm keep things close to home around the holidays. A week ago, St. John’s beat Fordham. Now it’s St. Francis (N.Y.) on deck in the battle for New York’s finest. Regardless of the competition, the Red Storm need to get better at scoring more consistently.
12. Villanova: There is nothing quite like a win over a hated rival to quiet the naysayers. The Wildcats got that, beating Saint Joseph’s in the Holy War. The Hawks were picked to win the Atlantic 10, so this is a good win for a Villanova team desperate to collect any sort of wins.
13. Seton Hall: The Pirates keep winning, but they aren’t doing much to impress. After squeaking past New Jersey Institute of Technology, Seton Hall had to rally to beat struggling Wake Forest.
14. South Florida: The Bulls are in the midst of a 13-day break, with no games until Dec. 18. No doubt Stan Heath is wearing out the film from USF’s loss to Oklahoma State.
15. Rutgers: Like their rival Seton Hall, the Scarlet Knights won two games. But nearly blowing a lead against Iona and barely hanging on against George Washington does little to build confidence in this team right now.