Martin Luther King Day brought us college basketball nerds and Big East fans two sensational games on Monday. First No. 7 Villanova Wildcats made a short trip northeast, to Hartford, CT where they took on No. 8 Connecticut Huskies. Later that night on ESPN, No. 3 Syracuse Orange traveled to "The Pete" where the No. 4 Pittsburgh Panthers play.
After a slow start, Villanova took a one-point lead into half at UCONN. Senior guard Corey Fisher once again led the Wildcats in scoring with 28 points on 10-for-22 shooting. He was their only player who scored in double digits.
Player-of-the-Year candidate (and my vote) Kemba Walker followed up his 31-point game effort versus DePaul on Saturday with 24 points versus Villanova. Walker added six rebounds and five assists to his stellar performance.
As for the Big East nightcap, as a die-hard Syracuse fan the start and the outcome wasn't what I wanted nor what I expected. The Panthers jumped out to a 19-0 run (not what I expected). The young Syracuse team who was without their leading scorer, Kris Joseph (14.9 pts/game), due to a head injury, fought back with their own 17-0 run.
The Pitt Panthers are 50-1 at "The Pete" in the past 51 games heading into their matchup versus Syracuse. Coming out of halftime down four, the Orange got as close as to tying up the game, but that was as close as they would get all night.
They never led once during the game. With 7:03 left in the game, Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon drew a technical to put standout freshman Dion Waiters to the line for two. Waiters hit both to bring the Orange within six. After the technical, Pitt went on a 7-0 run and never looked back.
On a day where we honor a great man, the Big East once again proved there is no telling who will come out on top. In less than two months from now, the Big East tournament will begin in New York City at Madison Square Garden.
Right now, no one can tell who will come out as the champion. It's not too early, we have the information, we can speculated all we want based on stats and home-court advantage, but the bottom line, we just don't know. The Big East is just that good.