Irish point guard Eric Atkins
A Big Scorer Not Necessary
This season has shown that success is not necessarily dependent on one high-scoring player. That certainly has been the case for No. 20 Notre Dame (19-8, 13-3 Big East), which has had seven different players lead the team in scoring this season.
Six of the seven Big East teams with winning conference records have a leading scorer who averages 15 points or fewer per game. First-place Syracuse’s top scorer is Kris Joseph, who ranks 18th in league scoring with a 14.0 average. The other teams’ leading scorers are: Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick (15.3), Georgetown’s Jason Clark (14.8), Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins (13.0), Louisville’s Kyle Kuric (13.3), and USF’s Augustus Gilchrist (10.6). Marquette is the exception to the rule with Darius Johnson-Odom ranking second in the league in scoring at 18.6 points per game. Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer, Jerian Grant, is averaging 12.9 points per game.
Quality of wins is important when the NCAA Basketball Committee for NCAA Championship invitations puts together the yearly bracket. One piece of information that can turn heads is victories against teams ranked in the top 25 of the RPI. Prior to Saturday’s slate of games, only seven teams nationally had at least four wins against-top 25 teams. The Big East has two of the seven, with Georgetown boasting five wins and Notre Dame owning four.
Let’s Go Streaking
When No. 2 Syracuse beat Rutgers Sunday 74-64, the Orange improved to 14-1 in league play and 27-1 overall. SU, ranked second in both national polls this week, is compiling one of the most impressive regular seasons in league history. Other than the first season of the league’s existence when only six games were played, only Connecticut (17-1) in 1995-96 and St. John’s (15-1) in ’84-85 have been able to survive a league season with only one loss. No team has gone unbeaten. Syracuse’s best regular season mark was 14-2 in 1985-86. Including all regular-season games, no league team has entered the Big East Tournament with only one loss. Notre Dame has the second-longest streak of the season with eight consecutive road wins, beginning with the victory over Syracuse. It ties the longest Big East winning spree for the program since joining the league in 1995-96. The Fighting Irish also won eight in a row during the 2000-01 campaign — head coach Mike Brey’s first with the program.