Friday, March 9th, 2012

Big East Conference Tournament preview and predictions

Published on March 6, 2012 by Scott Shirley   ·   No Comments

Last year UConn won 5 games in 5 days to win the Big East tournament and the rest is history. The Huskies went on to win 6 games in the tournament to win the NCAA title. Do I see a team doing this again this season? No! Who do I predict to win the Big East tournament? Find out below along with my picks for every game.

Top 5 players

1. Kevin Jones, West Virginia ( Sr.)- Jones has taken his game to another level so far. He is averaging a double double on the season. He leads the Big East in points (20) and rebounding (11.2). Jones is also averaging 1 three and 1 block per game.

2. Jae Crowder, Marquette ( Sr.) – Crowder is an undersized forward who just can flat out play. So far this season he is averaging 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Crowder also averages 2.4 steals and 2.1 assists.

3. Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut (Soph.)- Lamb continues his hot play from last season into this season. He is averaging 17.6 points per game. He is also averaging 4.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Lamb is making 2.1 threes per game.

4. Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette (Sr.) – He continues to be one of the most underrated players in the country. Odom is 2nd in the Big East in scoring (18.3). Odom also averages 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He is also making 2.3 threes per game while shooting 40 % from three.

5. Kris Joseph, Syracuse (Sr.) – Joseph leads the number two team in the country in scoring 14.1 points per game. Joseph is also averaging 5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.4 steals. If Joseph played on any other team his numbers would be a lot higher.

NCAA Tournament

Locks for the Tournament: Syracuse, Marquette, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Louisville, Cincinnati

On the Bubble : UConn, Seton Hall, South Florida, West Virginia

1st round

Connecticut/DePaul – This is a game where only a loss came hurt UConn, if they win they will be safely in the tournament. As for the game I see UConn rolling over the worst team in the Big East. DePaul will have no answer for Andre Drummond inside. Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier will also dominate on the perimeter. The Huskies will get to rest some players for the next day as they roll to a blowout win.

St. John’s/Pittsburgh – Who would have thought Pitt would be playing on the first day of the Big East tournament at the beginning of the season? The Panthers have been a major disappointment this season led by preseason player of the year Ashton Gibbs. Hey, at least Pitt would chock in the big dance this season. St. Johns down season was expected after they lost pretty much everyone on their team. In this game I like the team with the best player and that is St. Johns stud freshman Mo Harkless.

Seton Hall /Providence- Seton Hall has to win this game if they want to make the big dance. They have lost 3 out of their last 4 including bad losses to Rutgers and DePaul. Seton Hall’s two go to guys Herb Pope and Jordan Theodore will come up big as Seton Hall will win this game. I think they have too much to play for, not to do well in this game. Their ability to shoot the three will be the difference.

Rutgers/Villanova – What a disappointing season for Villanova losing 8 out of their last 10. I really thought Jay Wright had them going on the right track. As for Rutgers Mike Rice is doing a heck of a job rebuilding the program. In 2 years I could see them being in the big dance. Their two leading scorers are freshmen. At the end of the day I don’t think Villanova wants to be here and Rutgers does. Therefore Rutgers wins.

Second Round

West Virginia/Connecticut– Both teams are really struggling coming down the stretch. Both are probably in the big dance no matter the outcome here, but a win wouldn’t hurt. As for the game I really like West Virginia in this one. I think Kevin Jones is the best player in the Big East and he will show it in this game. Also watch out for Darryl Bryant who has had a very underrated season.

Georgetown/St. Johns – Georgetown has had a heck of the season. Not many people thought much of the Hoyas this season. What a great coaching job by John Thompson III. The Hoyas always play great defense and their Princeton style offense is tough to stop. Georgetown wins easily as St. Johns lack of depth hurts them here.

Louisville/Seton Hall – I already talked about Seton Hall struggles down the stretch. and it is the same with Louisville. which lost 4 out of their last 6. Louisville has had an up and down season with tons of nagging injuries. This team has the talent to make a run in the tournament but they could lose the first game like last season. Kyle Kuric hits a late three to give Louisville the win and the Pirates sweat it out on selection Sunday.

South Florida /Rutgers – Despite South Florida’s 12-6 record in the Big East they are not a lock for the tournament thanks to their soft non-conference schedule. This is a must win game for the Bulls because a loss would really hurt. As for the game I like South Florida, they don’t have a double-digit scorer but they have a ton of depth. They will wear down Rutgers.


Syracuse/West Virginia- Now, with the latest Syracuse mess who knows where the player and coaches heads will be. I know one thing they didn’t let the Bernie Fine saga hurt their play as they went 30-1 in the regular season. The first time they played West Virginia should have sent the game into overtime but the refs missed a goaltending call. I like West Virginia to pull the upset here. Syracuse is not a great rebounding team. That’s one problem with playing the 2-3 zone. Kevin Jones is the best rebounder in the Big East, and with the game tied I see Jones putting back an offensive rebound to give WVU the win late.

Georgetown/ Cincinnati- After the ugly fight with Xavier, the Bearcats really pulled it together and became a better basketball team. This game will feature a great match up in the post with Yancy Gates and Henry Sims. This will be a low scoring defensive game and I think a late Jason Clark three will give Georgetown the victory.

Marquette /Louisville – I still feel like Marquette is still not getting enough credit nationally. This team is one of the best teams in the country. Here is where the inconsistency comes to hurt Louisville. A team like Marquette will make them hurt for all their mistakes. Marquette will win easily, I just think they are a lot tougher team.

Notre Dame/South Florida - Despite losing their best player to an ACL injury the Irish are playing a lot better without him. Go figure. In my mind Mike Brey should be the Big East coach of the Year again this season. Here is where South Florida’s lack of a go to guy will hurt them. I like Notre Dame to win thanks to Jack Cooley.


West Virginia /Georgetown- West Virginia beat Georgetown by 12 in their only meeting this season. However, here is where I see WVU’s run stopping. I think they will run out of gas after beating Syracuse. Georgetown’s offense will really hurt WVU with the back doors. Georgetown will win thanks to huge games from Hollis Thompson, Henry Sims , and Jason Clark.

Notre Dame Marquette – This will be a great game since they already played once this season with Notre Dame crushing Marquette at home. I don’t see the Irish winning again. I think Marquette will expose Notre Dame’s lack of depth in the paint. The Irish really don’t have anyone to guard Jae Crowder. He and Darius Johnson Odom will have a huge game, as Marquette will advance to the championship game. Notre Dame will struggle from three.


Marquette/Georgetown – These two teams split in the regular season but Marquette just won the last game of the regular season by double digits. As I mentioned above Marquette is really underrated. I also think they have two of the most underrated players in the country. Those players are Darius Johnson Odom and Jae Crowder. These two players had two monster seasons and I feel like they should be getting more pub. As for the game I like Marquette to win the Big East championship. Georgetown has a lot of good players but they don’t have a star like Crowder or Odom. In the title game I want the team with the stars, who can score with ease. I think the Golden Eagles will be a little more rested because they got a double bye.

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