Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Big East Tourney - Opening round preview

Due to the overwhelming response to the Trivia Time (exactly 0 responses), I'm going to suspend it until the regular season starts. Answer from this weekend's question will be at the end of this post.

Most prognosticators are predicting Villanova has made the field of 64 (or 65 if you count the play-in game. Which, by the way, is the biggest piece of crap in college basketball. CONGRATULATIONS, you've won your conference tournament and made the NCAA --- just kidding. You need to play one more game for the right to lose to the #1 team in the country.). I still hedge my bet. I think they need to win their first round game against DePaul to qualify. Time will tell.

And that time starts Wednesday at the Big East Tournament! All 10 games over four consecutive days will be broadcast on ESPN, starting at 0900 PST tomorrow. Let's take a moment to preview the games:

Game 1: Villanova vs. DePaul. The Blue Demons haven't been any good since some old guy named Meyer coached them back in the 1970s. Besides, they hail from the home of the Cubs (two strikes). Villanova probably doesn't need to win this one, but as the #9 seed in the tourney why leave any stone unturned? DePaul won the only meeting between the two this year, 73-65 in Chicago. Prediction: In a shock, I'm picking the Cats.

Game 2: UCONN vs. Syracuse. Syracuse is the hotter team, having won 5 of 6 to close out the season. Perennial power Connecticut has struggled this year, falling from league Co-Champs a year ago to being the bottom qualifier for this event. Syracuse is assumed to be in based on their big win against G'Town last week, but like Nova can't afford to leave any room for doubt. Huskies are making preps to host a NIT game. The teams split their two meetings this season, each winning at home. Prediction: The Orangemen have more to play for, so they're the pick.

Game 3: Providence vs. West Virginia. Hard to believe Beilein's Bombers are considered a long shot to make the NCAAs at this point, but despite a quality win against UCLA, they are. The Mountaineers probably need a deep run this week to get in; a mis-step by either Nova or 'Cuse would greatly help their chances. Those wacky Friars boast the Conference's top scorer in senior Herbert Hill. Friars try to light it up inside; Bombers chuck it from the cheap seats. Friars won by 3 on 20 Feb in Providence. Prediction: Hill gets his, but on this court, where Beilein has done very well the past two years, he's tough to bet against. West Virginia takes it.

Game 4: St. John's vs. Marquette. The Red Men return to the tournament after missing last season's affair because they sucked. Marquette has stumbled down the stretch, losing 4 of their last 6 but still being ranked #19 in the country. Prediction: The days of Lou Carneseca and Chris Mullin are long over. Warriors should roll into the second round.

Congratulations to Scottie Reynolds on being named Big East Rookie of the Year.

Answer to the weekend question: Nolan Ryan (292 games).

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