NCAAB – East: Upsets shake up the Big EastBy David A.
The Big East Conference has been upside down of late thanks to the announcement of seven schools leaving the conference. However, on Saturday all that took second stage to the upsets that took place in conference play. The Syracuse Orange the No. 3 ranked team lost to the Villanova Wildcats 75-71, while the Louisville Cardinals were beaten by the Georgetown Hoyas 53-51, which was Louisville’s third straight loss.
Currently Syracuse leads the conference with a record of 6-1 and overall is 18-2. With their three consecutive losses, Louisville has fallen to 4-3 in conference play and is in fourth place with an overall record of 16-4.
The win by Villanova over Syracuse was the second win this week over a team ranked in the top five as they beat Louisville 73-64 Tuesday night. Villanova became just the first team in two seasons to be unranked and defeat two teams during the same year that were ranked in the top five at the time of their wins. Florid State accomplished the feat in 2011 when they knocked of North Carolina, which was ranked No. 3 and No. 4 Duke in the same week.
Syracuse had an opportunity to foul with only seconds left in the game to preserve a three-point lead, but allowed Villanova to kick an offensive rebound out to the point and the Wildcats calmly hit a three pointer at the buzzer in regulation to send the game to overtime.
What is amazing about this game is that Villanova has been beaten this season by teams such as Columbia, Alabama and La Salle. The schedule does not give team’s breaks, as the Wildcats now must get ready to face Notre Dame, which is ranked no. 24 in the nation.
Not to be outdone by the Villanova Wildcats, the Georgetown Hoyas knocked off the Louisville Cardinals 53-51. The Hoyas received a tip-in from Aaron Bowen, who has only scored 49 points, not this season, but in the last three seasons combined. Bowen made the basket with over 3 minutes left in the game, but it proved to be the winner.
Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III was pleased to see his team win after playing poorly against South Florida, Pittsburgh and Marquette. With the win over Louisville, the Hoyas have won two straight games against ranked teams as they beat Notre Dame earlier in the week.
Georgetown has been able win even without their second high scorer on the team Greg Whittington, who is sidelined due to academic problems.
Louisville is now mired in their worst losing streak in three years and just a week ago was the No. 1 team in the nation and now is No. 4 in their conference. Head Coach Rick Pitino said Monday’s game against Pittsburgh is a must win for the team. He said if they lose four straight it puts them in jeopardy of going below .500 for the season in the conference.
The season still has a month and a half of conference play before starting the season ending tournaments and then the NCAA tournament. However, both Syracuse and Louisville have to turn their seasons back in the right direction or they will find themselves as lower seeds during March madness.