Great weekend of basketball this weekend, from the Duke/UNC matchup to the Syracuse/Marquette game to the Pitt/UConn game all the way down to the Missouri Valley Conference Championship between Illinois State and Northern Iowa. The Big East Tournament is all set, the 16 seeds are locked, so it's time to look at the matchups and see who is going to be able to make a run to the top.
The Tuesday games in the first round should be no brainers, at least I think.
9 Cincinatti vs. 16 Depaul - 12PM - Depaul has not won a conference game this year, don't expect that to change, although Cincy has been slipping all over the place lately
12 Georgetown vs. 13 St. Johns - 2PM - This one should be interesting. St. John's is playing at home, coming off of a win over Georgetown last week, but expect the Hoyas to give the Red Storm enough trouble to win that game.
10 Notre Dame vs. 15 Rutgers - 7PM - Be careful of Notre Dame. If they can shoot the ball over 40 percent they could be very dangerous.
11 Seton Hall vs. 14 South Florida - 9PM - There is no reason why Seton Hall should lose this game. We shall see.
This would put 9 Cincy vs. 8 Providence, 5 Marquette vs. 12 Georgetown, 7 West Virginia vs. 10 Notre Dame, and 6 Syracuse vs. 11 Seton Hall. I like Providence, Marquette, Notre Dame, and Syracuse. (Notre Dame is my upset team for this tournament)
In the third round, we have then 1 Louisville vs. 8 Providence, 4 Villanova vs. 5 Marquette, 2 Pittsburgh vs. 10 Notre Dame, and 3 UConn vs. 6 Syracuse. I have Louisville, Pitt, Nova, and UConn all winning here, but don't be suprised at all if Marquette and Syracuse advance to the semifinals.
In the Semis, Louisville vs. Nova and Pitt vs. UConn. Pitt clearly will beat UConn again and I like Villanova over Louisville. Pittsburgh should win the whole thing somewhat easily, with their toughest test coming vs. UConn in the semis. I say that Marquette could upset Villanova, and this is true, but if Villanova wins that game then I think they could beat Louisville if they play well and play defense.
Another thing, if you did not watch the Missouri Valley Conference Championship, you missed one heck of a basketball game. Northern Iowa got off to an early lead in the first half, only to see Illinois State claw its way back into the game through halftime. The entire second half was back and forth trading of leads, and absolute slugfest. The Illinois State run was led by Osiris Eldrich, hitting three circus-type threes in a row to give the Redbirds the lead. Northern Iowa is a higher seed despite Ill. St. having a better overall record. Ill. St. got the last possession of regulation, tied up at 48, and forced up a terrible-looking three which sent the game into overtime. Northern Iowa eventually won it in a shootout-type overtime period - but it goes to show you that when you're playing for a tournament berth the games are just going to get better and better.