BIG EAST Rises To The Top In NCAA RPI
The NCAA issued its first release of the 2012-13 Ratings Percentage Index this week and, as expected, BIG EAST teams figure prominently among the best in the nation. In fact, 13 of the 15 BIG EAST teams are ranked in the top 100 of the RPI, which is one of the tools used in the evaluation of the 347 Division I teams for the NCAA Championship. Louisville is ranked No. 9, followed by Syracuse at No. 14 and Connecticut at No. 27. Marquette (No. 31), Cincinnati (No. 34), Notre Dame (No. 37), Georgetown (No. 38), Seton Hall (No. 49), Rutgers (No. 56), St. John’s (No. 64), Pittsburgh (No. 71), USF (No. 76) and Villanova (No. 83) round out the BIG EAST contingent.
Rutgers Rallies Against Ranked Opponents At The RAC
One of many key early games on the BIG EAST calendar takes place Saturday as Rutgers hosts No. 21/20 Cincinnati at 8 p.m. The Scarlet Knights are off to a 2-1 start in BIG EAST play and would have three wins in their first four league games for the first time if they get past the Bearcats. Rutgers has gone 4-2 at home against nationally ranked opponents under third-year head coach Mike Rice, including three wins against top-10 opponents. The Scarlet Knights are 11-3 overall and have won seven straight at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
Familiar Rivalries Highlight Saturday’s Schedule
Two of the BIG EAST’s better-known rivalries are also on tap for Saturday. Georgetown and St. John’s meet for the 97th time when the schools play an 11 a.m. tilt at Madison Square Garden. The Hoyas have won four straight in the series, though Georgetown is looking to pick up its first BIG EAST win of the season. Syracuse and Villanova renew acquaintances at noon at the Carrier Dome in the BIG EAST Network Game of the Week. The Wildcats hold a slight 27-25 series lead in conference regular-season games, but Syracuse took last year’s meeting 69-64 in Philadelphia.
Top Of The Charts
BIG EAST teams rank among the national leaders in several statistical categories as of the NCAA’s most recent update. Notre Dame has averaged 19.9 assists per game to rank first nationally, while Pittsburgh tops Division I in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.05). St. John’s is the national leader in blocks (8.9 per game), thanks in large part to the play of freshman Chris Obekpa, who ranks second among individuals at 5.1 blocks per game. Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams has spent the entire season atop the individual assists chart and is averaging 9.8 helpers per game.