Believe it or not (PICK ONE!!), the Big East regular season is at least halfway over for every team in the league. And there are only two things to do when something is halfway over: 1) Organize a bowling night. 2) Hand out awards.
CC Bowling Night at Ten Pin next Wednesday.
Player of the Mid-Year: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
He doesn't have the numbers that some of the other competitors for this title do, but he's the most versatile player in the conference and the biggest reason the Orange are the surprise team of the season both in the Big East and nationally. We knew from the preseason reports that he was good, but I don't think anybody knew he was this good.
Defensive Player of the Mid-Year: Hamady N'Diaye, Rutgers
N'Diaye has more than twice as many blocked shots (108) as any other player in the Big East.
All-Big East First Team
We're shelving the Big East's absurd "POY doesn't get a spot on the first team" rule here, which means that one of the top scorers in the country isn't even a first teamer in his own league.
All five of these guys are in the discussion for national player of the year.
Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia
Dominique Jones, South Florida
All-Big East Second Team
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
Jerome Dyson, Connecticut
Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Jamine Peterson, Providence
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh
All-Big East Third Team
Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
Samardo Samuels, Louisville
Lazar Hayward, Marquette
Mike Rosario, Rutgers
Stanley Robinson, Connecticut
Freshman of the Mid-Year: Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
If this were "most valuable freshman," then the honor would likely go to Maalik Wayns, who's been a key contributor to the only undefeated team in the league and has afforded Scottie Reynolds more rest than he's had in four years.
All-Big East Freshman Team
Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
Maalik Wayns, Villanova
Bilal Dixon, Providence
Alex Oriakhi, Connecticut
Dominic Cheek, Villanova
Coach of the Mid-Year: Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
Syracuse went 11-7 and finished sixth in the Big East last year. After the season, the top three scorers from that team opted to leave school early. Currently, the Orange are ranked third in the country and off to the best start (22-1) in the history of the program.
I'd say the man's deserving.
Top Five Games of the Mid-Year
1. Syracuse 72, West Virginia 71 (1/16)
Here's hoping 'Cuse/'Nova can somehow better this.
2. West Virginia 90, Seton Hall 84 (OT) (12/26)
The first Big East game of the year showcased one of the biggest trends of the conference season thus far as the Mountaineers blew a ten-point lead with less than a minute to play but regrouped and won in overtime.
3. Villanova 74, Marquette 72 (1/2)
Pretty much every Marquette game has a legit beef about not being on this list.
4. South Florida 76, Seton Hall 74 (OT) (1/28)
Dominique Jones and Jeremy Hazell go bucket-for-bucket as USF snags the first of what will end up being four straight wins (and counting).
5. Cincinnati 60, Notre Dame 58 (1/16)
Eleven lead changes and some serious football-related feelings of ill-will.
Top Five Storylines of the Mid-Year
1. Syracuse or Villanova?
The success of the Orange is an enormous story itself, but the fact that on Feb. 4 these teams have a pair of losses between them - in a year where parity was supposed to reign supreme - is the talk of the league at the halfway point.
Few expected any team in the league to match Louisville's winning league mark of 16-2 from a year ago, but here the Wildcats are sitting at 9-0. Syracuse has run off nine straight wins since falling to Pitt on Jan. 2, and the Orange boast the league's best scoring margin at +18.
Both teams have their harder half of the season sitting in front of them. They'll face off inside the Carrier Dome on Feb. 27.
2. Enormous blown leads and comebacks
If you turn on a Big East game and are disappointed to see that one of the teams is up by between 12-20 points, do yourself a favor and go ahead and keep watching.
3. South Florida's .500 record
Before its current four-game winning streak, the best thing to happen to South Florida basketball since it made the move to the Big East was Depaul's 0-18 season of a year ago.
Over the last two weeks, the Bulls have claimed victories over traditional league powers Providence, Seton Hall, Georgetown and Pittsburgh, and suddenly find themselves at 5-5 and in the top half of the conference standings. During that span, star Dominique Jones has scored 140 points and thrust himself into the national player of the year discussion and his team into the NCAA Tournament discussion.
4. West Virginia's fan behavior
The language of the Mountaineer faithful was so vulgar against Ohio State that the school had to issue a written apology and head coach Bob Huggins had to plead with the students to clean up their act. In West Virginia's very next game, the student section repeatedly chanted "Ka-ren Sy-pher" at Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, despite Huggins' repeated calls for them to quiet down. In the game after that, the fans threw trash out onto the floor and hit a Pittsburgh assistant coach in the face with a coin.
At this rate, an on-court stabbing is due to occur when Cincinnati comes to Morgantown on Feb. 27.
5. The Player of the Year Race
We talked about it earlier, but there are six extremely deserving candidates at the moment, and those six guys can be split into two groups of three. First, you have the three best players on the league's three best teams (Wes Johnson, Scottie Reynolds, Da'Sean Butler). And then you've got the three guys who consistently post ridiculous stat lines (Luke Harangody, Dominique Jones, Jeremy Hazell).
It's certainly the most competitive race we've seen during Louisville's stint in the Big East.
Projected Final Standings
Syracuse beats 'Nova in their only head-to-head meeting, but the Wildcats still take the regular season title outright by a game.
3. West Virginia
9. Seton Hall
11. Notre Dame
12. South Florida
14. St. John's