The Catholic 7 have stunned and beat up their Big Foes in the last 15 hours, even while lawyers from the two sides were working out terms of the divorce. No. 15 Georgetown moved into 1st with a 62-55 win at Cincinnati Friday night, then Villanova walked into UConn for a 70-61 win. Providence then shocked Notre Dame 71-54 before DePaul won its second conference game of the year against Rutgers and No. 18 Marquette finished a home-and-away sweep over No. 16 Pittsburgh to make it 5-0.
The last non-Catholic 7 team with a chance for the win is No. 6 Syracuse, which will go into Seton Hall as a heavy favorite tonight at 8 p.m. CT, as Seton Hall is 2-10.
When the Catholic 7 announced their split, they brought plenty of tradition and the New York market to the TV negotiating table for a contract that will bring each school millions now that they do not have to split revenue with football schools. The one thing they did not have early this year was any ranked teams, but that has changed.
Georgetown will improve on the No. 15 ranking after the big road win at Cincinnati Friday night (see story this page).
Marquette should also improve on its rating after dominating No. 18 Pittsburgh to complete a sseason sweep. The combination of Vander Blue hitting seven of his first eight shots including both 3-pointers, and 290-pound Davante Gardner dominating inside with a perfect 6-6 from the line was too much for Pittsburgh for the second time this year. A double digit home win is the equal of a road win, and Marquette now has both over No. 16 Pitt with today’s 79-69 margin following up on the overtime win in Pittsburgh.
However, the biggest breakthrough moving forward was Providence’s blowout of Notre Dame, which is going to the ACC rather than join its fellow seven Catholic schools. Providence put together a recruiting class led by Kris Dunn, a 6-foot-2 point guard, expected to form one of best backcourts in the country alongside freshman Ricky Ledo and veteran Vincent Council. However, Ledo was ruled ineligible and injuries to Dunn and Council left only five scholarship players early for Providence.
However, when Dunn did return he dished out 13 assists, and while his shot is still off from the injury layout, he dished out five more to run the route of Notre Dame (pictured going past Eric Atkins of Notre Dame). Today it was Council with 11 assists to help Kadeem Batts score 20 and Value Add’s No. Big East player Bryce Cotton add 19 in the 71=54 blowout.
DePaul’s stunner over Rutgers was very important as well, as DePaul is the key to the Chicago television market and has struggled while in the Big East. DePaul was in control most of the way until a rally in the final couple of minutes pulled Rutgers within 72-69 on a three-pointer by Jerome Seagears with 20 seconds left. However, Worrell Clahar hit a clutch free throw to cap and 18 point night with four rebounds, six assists and three steals and Charles McKinney grabbed a rebound at the other end to secure the upset 75-69.
Villanova was thought to be the third big player in the Catholic 7, only a few years removed from the Final Four. However, they struggled mightily early including a loss to Columbia. However, they are hitting stride, and Ryan Arcidiacono lit up UConn Saturday for 25 points on 5 of 8 shooting on three-pointers. The 70-61 win for the Wildcats was particularly impressive on the floor where UConn had just defeated No. 6 Syracuse.