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Monday, March 5, 2012
Conference Power Rankings: Big East

By Dana O'Neil

Syracuse finished its wire-to-wire dominance with ease, disposing of Louisville in the regular-season finale.

Everyone else? Business as usual. Up, down and all over the map has been the story of this Big East season and nothing changed in the final week, when teams played themselves onto the NCAA tournament bubble and out of Big East tournament double byes.

1. Syracuse: The Orange finished off their wire-to-wire run to grab their 10th regular-season crown and finish one loss away from perfection.

2. Marquette: The Golden Eagles’ stomping and offensive show against Georgetown displayed exactly what Marquette can be when it’s on -- the one team that can challenge Syracuse for the Big East tournament title.

3. Cincinnati: The Bearcats muscled their way to a double bye by finishing strong, winning five of their final six. Cincinnati’s win against Marquette was particularly impressive.

4. Georgetown: The Hoyas’ loss to Marquette was a defensive disaster. Georgetown needs to rediscover its identity to advance deep in New York.

5. Notre Dame: The Irish ended a two-game skid by beating Providence. More quickly, Notre Dame fixed its shooting woes, hitting 5-of-10 from beyond the arc.

6. South Florida: The Bulls could have made life easy. Instead, they made it complicated, beating Louisville but losing to West Virginia to reaffirm their spot on the bubble. The tournament is huge for USF.

7. Louisville: The Cards can’t score. That’s the bottom line. They average just 65 points per game, but that’s deceiving. Louisville hasn’t topped the 60-point threshold in its last five games.

8. West Virginia: The Mountaineers are yet another Big East bubble dweller, who won the bubble head-to-head with South Florida but need more in New York to secure a bid. This team is more than capable of winning a few in its last Big East tournament.

9. Connecticut: The most intriguing team in the conference got a win and its coach back to finish the regular season, both necessary. Now let’s see what the Huskies can do with it.

10. Seton Hall: The Pirates can’t seem to help themselves, losing to Rutgers and DePaul to put black marks on their NCAA resume. Seton Hall can be great and it can be awful. Which shows up in New York?

11. Rutgers: Don’t think the Scarlet Knights aren't dangerous in NYC. They are, and come in having won two of their final three. Rutgers is a young team with nothing to lose.

12. Pittsburgh: Decidedly new territory for the Panthers -- playing on Tuesday in New York. This is Pitt’s last chance to resurrect a horrifically disappointing season.

13. St. John’s: The young Red Storm might be the most dangerous in the tournament, blessed with the ignorance of youth and playing on their home court. Their two-game skid to finish the season would indicate otherwise.

14. Villanova: Maalik Wayns looked more like Maalik Wayns, scoring 26 against Cincinnati, but not even that was enough to prevent yet another loss in what has been an endless season of woe for the Wildcats.

15. Providence :This has been the story for much of the year for the Friars: fight hard but lose. Providence gave Notre Dame all it could handle but had no answer for Jack Cooley.

16. DePaul: The Blue Demons finish at the bottom of the league standings for the fourth season in a row, but at least they grabbed a win in their regular-season finale against Seton Hall.