Player of the Week
Gibbs' Panthers finished the week 2-0 with impressive wins over Marquette and Georgetown. Scoring 19 and 22 points respectively, Gibbs nailed 10 three pointers in his past two games, raising his percentage from behind the arch to a remarkable 46%. Without a true point guard to log big minutes, Gibbs has done a nice job of getting his teammates involved, dishing out 5 assists in the win over the Golden Eagles. Scoring double digits in all but two games this season, Gibbs has become the Rodney Dangerfield of the Big East. The best player in one of the top programs in the country, I expect Gibbs' name to become a reoccurring one on the national scene as conference play gets under way.
Alex Oriakhi - He put up 10 points and 21 rebounds in a win over Texas, and followed with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks against Rutgers. Maybe he's figuring it out?
Casey Mitchell - West Virginia's Casey Mitchell scored 28 in a win over Georgetown, and has hit 13 of his last 26 from downtown.
Notre Dame's Ben Hansbrough scored a season high 26 points in a win over Rutgers.
Vincent Council - After a hot start for the Providence point guard, Council hasn't been able to hit the side of a barn, shooting 12-44 from the floor in his last three, including 8 for his last 38 three point attempts. No wonder the Friars have dropped five straight.
Chris Wright - In their lost 4 losses (which is in their last 5 games), Chris Wright has shot a dreadful 10-37 from the floor. Can't win if you can't make shots
Terrence Jennings - Jennings never really got it going this year, and has been a disappointment for the Cardinals. After a promising 12 point game against an inferior South Florida team, he scored just 2 points in a loss to Villanova.
Big East Power Rankings Report
The Panthers maintain the most balance of any elite program in the Big East. Along with the offensive production they get out of their big three (Gibbs, Wanamaker, Brown), Pittsburgh leads the Big East in three point % and rebounding, two key areas of the game. We've also seen the emergence of Gary McGhee, who's made his presence known in the interior playing on both sides of the ball. A tough defensive team with experience and a head coach that could lead a herd of cattle to the Sweet 16, the Panthers right now would present the biggest threat of any Big East team to go this distance in a field of 68.
Syracuse has remained undefeated primarily due to the fact that their defense has created their offense when their offense couldn't create on it's own. They force turnovers, push the tempo and fly in transition, using fast break opportunities to score a good portion of their points. Defensively there's not much to be critical of- it's the offense that has sputtered without a true go-to scorer. However, the Orange have shot the ball well as of late, which will be a must when they play teams like Nova and Pitt.
Nova's three guard attack of Corey Fisher, Maalik Wayns and Corey Stokes has propelled the Wildcat's to a 14-1 record, combining to score 45 out of the team's 78 points per game. Corey Stokes has been spectacular shooting the ball this season, knocking down threes at a 46% rate, offsetting featured scorer Corey Fisher's rough start. Sophomore Mouphtaou Yarou is coming off an impressive 18 point, 11 rebound performance in a win over Louisville. His play and development will be crucial for Nova' down the stretch, as there's only so many games that you can rely on the three-ball and dominant guard play.
Whether Kemba Walker does it on his own or gets his teammates involved, at the end of the day the win still gets attributed to the Connecticut Huskies. Recently Walker knocked in the game winner with a few tics on the clock to beat the 12th ranked Longhorns, but the Huskies remained in the game largely in part to the strong play of Alex Oriakhi, who scored 11 points and grabbed 21 rebounds (10 offensive) in his best output of the season. Freshman Shabazz Napier has also provided the Huskies with his services from behind the arch, nailing 11 of his last 22 attempts. UConn will need their supporting players to contribute if they want to make a run deep into any tournament.
Marquette may not be ranked, but the Golden Eagles have enough talent to beat anyone on any given day. After a hard fought loss to Pittsburgh, Coach Buzz William's crew just waxed Notre Dame off the floor this past week, making a much needed statement to the conference. Between the versatility of senior leader Jimmy Butler and the outside stroke of [Player: Darius Johnson-Odom], the Golden Eagles can score in bunches, with the second half of the Notre Dame game being a prime example. Transfer and former Junior College Player of the Year Jae Crowder presents the biggest matchup problem for opponents, providing an inside-outside scoring option and a big body down low. Throw in the slashing freshman Vander Blue and the experience and shotmaking of senior Dwight Buycks, Marquette looks to be an interesting team to watch for around conference tournament time.
- After suffering a broken wrist and less than a month after being shot (yes, with a bullet) Jeremy Hazell came off the bench to score 23 points in 30 minutes in a win over Depaul
- Earlier this season, Syracuse's Brandon Triche went on a 1-17 dry spell from downtown. Since then he's 15 for his last 31.
- Marquette's Dwight Buycks scored 19 and a career high 21 points in back to back games this weekend. He shot 8-9 from downtown. That's a high percentage.
- Georgetown has shot 24-90 (25%) in their last five games. Shockingly, 4 of them were losses.
- Georgetown stinks
- Villanova defeated Louisville 88-74. 81 points came from the Wildcats' starting lineup.
- In the past four games, Pittsburgh's Gary McGhee is 18 for his last 24 field goal attempts.