Fine With .500

Irish face crucial road test Tuesday

Our first look at the Big East standings and a preview of the upcoming week.

A look at Notre Dame's upcoming schedule and the rest of the Big East for the week of Monday (1/4) through Sunday (1/10).

On Tap for the Irish

  • Tuesday, January 5 at South Florida (0-1)
  • Saturday, January 9 vs. West Virginia (2-0)

Earn the Split: The Irish face a rare "must-win" January road contest at South Florida Tuesday night. The contest vs. the improved Bulls represents one of just three road contests in which the Irish could be favored this season and ranks as one of the team's eight best chances at a conference win over the next three months (Providence, a team the Irish defeated by 13 last Wednesday, also fell into that subjective category) . As well, the Irish face three top 10 teams (West Virginia, at Villanova, and Syracuse) over the next three weeks.

A win over athletic, one-loss West Virginia would provide an early boost to the team's NCAA Tournament hopes and a quality win that would stand up on Selection Sunday. Anticipate an acceptable 1-1 record this week, one that would allow for a 2-2 conference start as Notre Dame attempts to navigate its first eight games with a .500 mark (an occurrence that would set the squad up nicely for the schedule's soft middle).

Conference Matchups

  • Monday, January 4: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
  • Wednesday, January 6: Rutgers (0-1) at West Virginia (2-0)
  • Wednesday, January 6: DePaul (0-2) at Villanova (1-0)
  • Wednesday, January 6: Seton Hall (0-2) at Connecticut (1-1)
  • Wednesday, January 6: Georgetown (2-0) at Marquette (0-2)
  • Wednesday, January 6: Louisville (1-0) at Providence (1-1)
  • Saturday, January 9: Marquette (0-2) at Villanova (1-0)
  • Saturday, January 9: Connecticut (1-1) at Georgetown (2-0)
  • Saturday, January 9: St. John's (0-2) at Louisville (1-0)
  • Saturday, January 9: Cincinnati (2-0) at Seton Hall (0-2)
  • Saturday, January 9: Rutgers (0-1) at Providence (1-1)
  • Sunday, January 10: South Florida (0-1) at Syracuse (1-1)

Games to Watch for Irish fans: It's too early to track Notre Dame's peer group of teams, but for the sake of argument, keep an eye on Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Cincinnati, and Seton Hall over the next week to 10 days. An undefeated (especially 4-0) or winless start to the conference season would serve as a mild surprise and begin the slotting process as the dog days of grueling Big East action approach.

Game of the Week: Saturday, Connecticut at Georgetown – The Huskies quintet of big men vs. sophomore C Greg Monroe and what appears to be an improved, yet untested Hoyas squad.

Team on the Brink: 0-2 Marquette has a home matchup Wednesday with Georgetown before traveling to Villanova on Saturday. The Golden Eagles need to take down the Hoyas at the Bradley Center to remain in realistic contention for a No. 5 or No. 6 conference finish at season's end.

Upset Alert: Marquette will likely be favored or a "Pick ‘Em" vs. 2-0 Georgetown, so I'll go with 0-2 Seton Hall traveling to Storrs to take on the 1-1 Huskies. The Pirates are a snake-bitten, but dangerous group, dropping an overtime conference opener to West Virginia and hanging tough with then-undefeated Syracuse. The Hall has a puncher's chance in every game with unconscious shooting guard Jeremy Hazell ripping the nets for 79 combined points in two conference losses.

Non-Conference Matchups

  • Wednesday, January 6: Memphis (10-1) at Syracuse (13-1)
  • Wednesday, January 6: CS Bakersfield (2-11) at Cincinnati (10-3)

Current Big East Standings (as of January 4)

  1. Georgetown: 2-0 (11-1)
  2. West Virginia: 2-0 (11-1)
  3. Pittsburgh: 2-0 (12-2)
  4. Cincinnati: 2-0 (10-3)
  5. Villanova: 1-0 (12-1)
  6. Louisville: 1-0 (10-4)
  7. Syracuse: 1-1 (13-1)
  8. Connecticut: 1-1 (10-3)
  9. Notre Dame: 1-1 (12-3)
  10. Providence: 1-1 (9-5)
  11. South Florida: 0-1 (10-3)
  12. Rutgers: 0-1 (9-4)
  13. St. John's: 0-2 (10-4)
  14. Seton Hall: 0-2 (9-4)
  15. Marquette: 0-2 (9-5)
  16. DePaul: 0-2 (7-7)

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