The No. 6-ranked Syracuse Orange travel to Louisville Saturday afternoon to take on the No. 1 Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center (4 p.m. ET on ESPN).
As usual TNIAAM has complete coverage of the contest with our pound for pound biggest rivals. Surrounding the first of two showdowns between Syracuse and Louisville, however, is a handful of Big East Conference men's basketball games.
Here are some brief previews.
St. John's (10-7, 2-3 Big East) at DePaul (10-7, 1-3) - noon on SNY
The Red Storm are coming off a impressive 67-63 victory over No. 20 Notre Dame on Tuesday. Freshman forward JaKarr Sampson, last week's Big East Rookie of the Week, tallied a team-high 17 points in just the Johnnies second win in five games.
Sophomore guard D'Angelo Harrison is still the second-highest leading scorer in the Big East averaging 19.8 points per game, while freshman center Chris Obekpa is averaging a league best 4.94 blocks per game.
The next best shot blocker, Cincinnati's Cheikh Mbodj, is averaging 2.56 bpg.
Meanwhile, DePaul barely lost to the visiting Bearcats on Tuesday losing 75-70. Junior forward Cleveland Melvin netted a game-high 32 points and collected eight rebounds in the Blue Demons' fourth loss in five games.
Melvin is pacing DePaul is scoring averaging 17.7 ppg, while junior guard Brandon Young is close behind with 17.3 ppg.
Line: DePaul 3-point favorites.
UConn (12-4, 2-2) at Pittsburgh (14-4, 2-3) - noon on ESPN2
I'll admit the more I watch the Huskies, who's gave Louisville all it could handle Monday in a 73-58 loss, the more I'd love to see them in the Big East Tournament. Sadly, that's not going to happen this season.
Shabazz Napier (17.1 ppg) and Ryan Boatright (15.8 ppg) are the team's top two scorers, while freshman Omar Calhoun is coming off a 20-point performance against the Cardinals.
Pitt will be trying to snap a two-game losing streak against the Huskies, who haven't won at the Petersen Events Center in three tries.
The Panthers are ranked third in the nation in turnovers per game (9.4), fifth in scoring defense (54.2) and ninth in field goal percentage (49.9).
Line: Pitt 9-point favorites.
Villanova (11-6, 2-2) at Providence (9-8, 1-4) - 4 p.m. on Big East Network
The Wildcats are looking to end a two-game losing streak after Wednesday's 58-43 loss to Pitt. In Big East play, the Wildcats have beat St. John's and USF but lost to SU and Pitt.
The Friars are led by the Big East's top scorer, Bryce Cotton, who's averaging 21.6 ppg. LaDontae Henton (15.1) and Kadeem Batts (14.8) are the other two players averaging in double figures.
Line: Providence 3-point favorites.
Georgetown (12-3, 2-2) at South Florida (9-7, 0-4) - 6 p.m. on SNY
This contest is not expected to be a barn burner, as Georgetown (64.5) and USF (62.5) are ranked 14th and 15th in the league in scoring, respectively.
As you may know by now, the Hoyas will be without its second-leading scorer and best defender Greg Whittington for the foreseeable future as he's been ruled academically ineligible.
USF is just looking for its first Big East victory. A win against Georgetown would make the Bulls' and Syracuse's day.
Line: Georgetown 2 1/2-point favorites.
Marquette (13-3, 4-0) at Cincinnati (15-3, 3-2) - 7 p.m. on ESPNU
Believe it or not, the No. 25-ranked Golden Eagles are one of three teams - Louisville and Syracuse being the other two - that haven't lost a league game. This is the first time Marquette has started 4-0 in Big East play since 2008-09 when they started 9-0.
What's interesting is Marquette is winning in the league without having a top 15 scorer - guard Vander Blue (13.7 ppg) is ranked 19th - and the only thing its really good at is making free throws (ranked second - 73.2-percent) and field goal percentage (ranked third - 46.6).
The Bearcats struggled last week going 1-2, but kicked started this week with a victory over DePaul, 75-70, on Tuesday.
Guard Cashmere Wright is still the league's top 3-point shooter (43.6-percent), but forward Sean Kilpatrick leads the team in scoring averaging 17.3 ppg. Wright is close behind averaging 15.1 ppg.
Line: Cincinnati 5 1/2-point favorites.
Rutgers (12-4, 3-2) at Notre Dame (14-3, 2-2) - 8 .m. on SNY
I am sure no one would have predicted that at this point in the season the Scarlet Knights would have more conference wins than the Fighting Irish, who have lost their last two games.
If Rutgers can pull off a upset, specially at Purcell Pavilion, it be a huge step for the program.
However, the inside presence of UND center Jack Cooley, who's averaging a double-double per game (14.8 ppg and 10.7 rpg), could be too much to handle for the undersized Scarlet Knights.
Line: Notre Dame 12-point favorites.
Here's the conference standings heading into the day.
Big East Conference Standings
(updated 1.19.2013 at 10:00 AM EST)
|Marquette Golden Eagles||4||0||13||3|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||3||2||12||4|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||2||2||14||3|
|St. John's Red Storm||2||3||10||7|
|DePaul Blue Demons||1||3||10||7|
|Seton Hall Pirates||1||4||12||6|
|South Florida Bulls||0||4||9||7|