Blog Entry

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

Posted on: March 4, 2012 1:28 pm
I've never hid the fact I hate that the Big East invites all 16 teams to its tournament. But this year, it's hard to argue against two of the first-day games that will carry significant weight. The reason why this let-them-all-in strategy works for the Big East is because the league is now putting more than eight teams into the NCAAs with regularity, and with that you've got bubble teams fighting for a few more wins from the get-go. That fighting begins on Tuesday in opening-round action, as the bottom eight teams are paired against each other. So my discontent over putting the worst of the worst -- the 13, 14, 15 and 16 seeds into the tournament -- in negated by the fact that UConn AND Seton Hall could very well have their seasons end if they lose on Tuesday. If conference were worse off and only had its top eight teams chasing NCAA bids, Tuesday would be a waste of a day.

The tournament itself is always a time, and it was arguably at its peak last season, when UConn did the genuinely unpredictable. This year's five-day party will be noteworthy for the fact that it's the last iteration of the Big East tournament as we've come to know the league for the past seven seasons. West Virginia's bolting to the Big 12 after this season. We should get one more year of Syracuse and Pittsburgh playing in MSG in March, but then they'll be off to the ACC. Will UConn one day also leave this league? Who knows. But we're clearing phasing out of an identity the Big East has been proud to market for so long.

Let's hope this year's tournament can come close to touching some of the great ones from the past 30. We'll be giving you look-aheads to every round through the week. For now, let's examine the set-in-stone matchups.

South Florida is in the unusual position of not having to play on the tournament's first day. (US Presswire)

Connecticut (9) vs. DePaul (16).
Doesn't this look familiar? UConn has to love it. Last year, when the Huskies became the first team to win a conference tournament by sweeping five games in five days, they started their run against DePaul. UConn got a close home win on Senior Day over Pittsburgh, giving the Huskies their first of what needs to be three straight winsto ensure an at-large berth. Jim Calhoun is back with the team. We'll see what happens; New York is always an adventure for this team. As for the Blue Demons, they're feeling good after mollywhopping the Pirates 86-58 Saturday night. Will DePaul take that and threaten UConn, or have we seen the last big effort out of Oliver Purnell's team this year?

St. John's (12) vs. Pittsburgh (13). It's October. You and me, we're in nice, comfortable fleece jackets. We're talking at lunch about the upcoming season of college basketball. I muse to you that St. John's will be seeded higher than Pittsburgh in the 2012 Big East tournament bracket. You laugh at me and walk away. I try to tell you I can see the future, but you're already out of sight. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh goes on to have an unthinkably sub-par season.

Seton Hall (10) vs. Providence (15).  The Pirates have been the preeminent enigma in a conference filled the them. What I think is certain -- SHU can't lose this game and get into the NCAAs. Seton Hall, 19-11 overall and 8-10 in the Big East, has wins over West Virginia, UConn, Georgetown, VCU and Dayton. That's a five-card hand that a lot of other teams can't hold. The problem is the back-to-back losses heading into the BET -- Rutgers and DePaul -- are as bad as any bubble team right now, too. Dodge Providence and you're probably in, Hall.

Rutgers (11) vs. Villanova (14). I'll be at Madison Square Garden all day on Tuesday, covering for the site. This one's going to be a toughie. I wonder if the arena will be one-fifth filled by 10 p.m. It's pretty unbelievable that any Jay Wright team could be seeded so low, by the way. The Wildcats have had a year to forget, but with Maalik Wayns, a junior guard who's one of the 10 most talented Big East players, winning two games wouldn't shock me one bit. 'Nova can do it. Will they be the surprise team in this year's bracket? Rutgers just fell at home to Villanova on Thursday, 77-71.

-- Matt Norlander
Category: NCAAB

Since: Oct 26, 2011
Posted on: March 6, 2012 10:00 pm

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

The Big East Put The Screws to WV Kevin Jones,not naming him The Big East Player of The Year.He will be The First Player in The Big East to Lead the League in Scoring and Rebounding,and not winning the award.The Big East the Same thing to WV in Football not naming Geno Smith The Big East Player of the year in Football.Ask Clemson about that outcome.Don't think U-Conn is a lock tomorrow.Plus I'm Glad WVU is out of The Bull-Shit Big East too.Notre Dame is looking to move sooner than later too.After WVU,Pitt,and The Cuse leave.They don't want anything to do with The Big Least anymore.GO MOUNTIES

Since: Oct 30, 2007
Posted on: March 6, 2012 3:37 pm

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

Uconn should easily beat WVU. But they aren't going to knock off Syracuse. The winner of the Uconn-WVU game should grab a 10-12 seed in the tourney while the loser is NIT bound.

Since: Feb 13, 2011
Posted on: March 5, 2012 1:01 pm

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

I read your pics and will look at them in detail
;    Thanks
;      scott

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:18 am

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

UConn should take care of business against DePaul, despite the somewhat schizophrenic season they have had.  They are playing a lot better of late and despite the fact that I have been saying they do not deserve an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, I think they will win 2-3 games in the BET and squeak in.  
Hard to call the Pitt v St John's game - this is technically a home game for St. John's and it would not surprise me if Pitt is ready to call it a season.  It has been a long, tough road for them.  I will go with the Red Storm.
Everything is on the line for Hall and they know it.  The absolute beat-down they took from DePaul could not have helped their morale much, but maybe they will use it as motivation.  I am calling for a bounce-back win against the Friars.
Norlander is probably right about the attendance for the 10pm tilt between Rutgers and 'Nova.  Still its the BET and both of these teams are technically still alive for the auto-bid that comes with winning the whole thing.  I am taking Rutgers.  They played SU tough and their fans at least, will still be seated at MSG.     

Since: Dec 6, 2009
Posted on: March 5, 2012 9:02 am

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

Shamrock up there A**...ND draws South Florida!...lucky lucky lucky.  Syracuse w/o Melo,  Marquette w/o Otule and Gardner,...when does it end?

Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: March 5, 2012 8:36 am

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

some say this tourney is as intense or more than the big dance. this year it will be from game one through out. fitting tourney considering it will be a bit dif next year with some gone and some new.

Since: Jan 22, 2012
Posted on: March 4, 2012 8:55 pm

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

I love the photo. The real reason USF has done so well. Those cheerleaders.  :)

Since: Mar 4, 2010
Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:51 pm

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

Dynamos:  That's all you got?  You're a tool.  Give it up friend.  

Since: Mar 11, 2008
Posted on: March 4, 2012 7:22 pm

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

You better get your sheets warmed up then!

Since: Mar 3, 2009
Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:26 pm

What-to-know tourney previews: Big East

is mrs fine going to the tournament and staying at the same hotel as the syracuse players?

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