WATCH NOW - VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
In the only BIG EAST game on Thursday, Rutgers (11-7, 2-4 BIG EAST) grabbed a 71-62 win over USF (7-13, 1-6 BIG EAST). Guard James Beatty scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half while Jonathan Mitchell also added 20 for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers took control of the game with nine straight points that stretched the lead to 61-50 with 3:19 remaining. USF’s Jawanza Poland missed a dunk for the Bulls in the midst of the run that seemed to give the Scarlet Knights momentum. The Bulls were led by Augustus Gilchrist and Hugh Robertson who each had 14 points.
Saturday’s schedule includes a collection of two long-time rivalries, a top-10 battle, a national intersectional contest, a key contest involving teams in the middle of the standings and a coach returning to familiar surroundings.
The day starts at noon Eastern with No. 7 Villanova at No. 3 Syracuse along with Rutgers at Seton Hall. Villanova-Syracuse will be played before the largest crowd in the college basketball this season. Over 33,000 tickets have been sold at the Carrier Dome. ESPN will carry the game.
Rutgers and Seton Hall meet at the Prudential Center in the BIG EAST Game of the Week. The Pirates have taken the last four meetings, though the last 11 regular-season contests have been decided by six points or less. Three of 11 games were decided in overtime.
Connecticut hosts Tennessee in a game that CBS Sports will telecast to most of the country. The 15-2 Huskies are coming off a 61-59 win over Villanova.
Cincinnati and St. John’s meet in Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm are 4-3 in the BIG EAST while the Bearcats are 3-3. Also, Pittsburgh puts its 6-0 BIG EAST record on the line at DePaul.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino returns to his old stomping grounds when his Cardinal squad visits Providence. Pitino coached the Friars to the 1987 Final Four.
In the evening, Marquette visits Notre Dame. The two teams met in Milwaukee on Jan. 10 with the Golden Eagles winning 79-57. The Fighting Irish lead the historical series 78-35.
The BIG EAST has nine teams in this week’s Associated Press top 25, marking the second time in poll history that one league produced nine top-25 teams. The only other time it came when the BIG EAST had nine teams in the Jan. 5, 2009 poll.