BIG EAST Puts Five Among Naismith Award Top 30
The Atlanta Tipoff Club has announced the 30 candidates for the 2013 Naismith Men's College Player of the Year Award and five BIG EAST players made the cut. Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick, Georgetown forward Otto Porter, Louisville guard Russ Smith, Notre Dame forward Jack Cooley and Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams helped the BIG EAST comprise one-sixth of the national candidates. The pool will be trimmed to four finalists in late March and the winner will be announced April 7 in Atlanta in conjunction with the NCAA Final Four.
Down The Stretch They Come
While the 10 first-round byes have been clinched for the BIG EAST Championship presented by American Eagle Outfitters, there is a tight race for the four double byes to the tournament's quarterfinal round. Georgetown, at 12-3 in league play, is in the top spot, while Louisville and Marquette are a game behind the Hoyas at 11-4. Syracuse and Notre Dame are two games back at 10-5 and Pittsburgh is 10-6 with two league games remaining. This Saturday will play a key role in determining the top four seeds as Syracuse hosts Louisville and Marquette hosts Notre Dame.
Marquette Is Trending In Milwaukee
Syracuse had put together 38 consecutive wins at the Carrier Dome over the course of three seasons until Georgetown ended the run - which was the longest homecourt winning streak in the nation - last Saturday. Among BIG EAST teams, Marquette now has the longest winning streak on its home floor as the Golden Eagles have taken 24 straight at the BMO Harris Bradley Center heading into Saturday's matchup with Notre Dame. Marquette trails only South Dakota State nationally - the Jackrabbits have won their last 30 home games.
BIG EAST Block Parties
One of the hallmarks of BIG EAST basketball through the years has been solid interior defense - a trend that has played out again this season. Three BIG EAST teams are ranked among the top seven nationally in blocked shots as of last Monday. St. John's, which has never led the league in blocks, finds itself at the top of the national leaderboard with an average of 7.4 blocks per game. Freshman Chris Obekpa, who is second among individuals at 4.1 bpg, is a key reason for the Red Storm's rise. Syracuse is fourth nationally at 9.7 per game, with Rakeem Christmas providing a strong presence (2.1 bpg). Cincinnati is seventh as a team at 6.3 blocks per game, while Cheikh Mbodj is 21st nationally at 2.5 per game.