Monday, March 9, 2009

Filling Out Your Bracket

Tomorrow is the beginning of the Big East Tournament, and for the first time with all 16 teams participating. Or as the media wants it to be called The New Big East Tournament: Bigger, Longer, and Completely Unnecessary.
But with 16 teams comes the ability to see a Cinderella that would almost be at the level of the NCAA Tournament quality. Not saying it will happen, but what happens if a Seton Hall or St. John's makes a run to the semi-finals? That would be unbelievable, literally. If I told you today that would happen, you would not believe it.
Whatever happens, it will be a fun week at the Garden. We'll be putting up direct updates from MSG this week, but today is our version of the bracket and how it we think it's going to fill out.

16 DePaul vs. Cincinnati- The Bearcats have to be angry after the loss to SHU and DePaul is just plain horrible. Sounds like a bad combination for the Blue Demons. At least they will have plenty of time to go sightseeing; I hear the Empire State Building is nice. Final score: Cinci 79, DePaul 53.
15 Rutgers vs. 10 Notre Dame- Upset Alert! Rutgers for some reason seems to matchup well with ND, with their last two games going to the wire. Luke Harangody is basically afraid of Hamady. But with that in mind and RU's recent hot streak (one win in a row!), here is a provision somebody has to consider; can RU win without Mike Rosario? The freshman has been downright brutal the last three games. He's a combined 10-43 in that time and scored six points. RU was spunky in their win over South Florida but was horrible. ND needs this win and probably still has hopes of the tourney in their mind. Final score: ND 73, RU 63.
14 South Florida vs. 11 Seton Hall- SHU is peaking right now and USF is floundering. Interesting note is that USF is staying in the area until the their game tomorrow, after playing RU Saturday. But not much to talk about here, the Pirates should breeze through. Final Score: SHU 77, USF 61
13 St. John's vs. 12 Georgetown- Wait didn't this just happen? The Red Storm beat the Hoyas at the Garden last week but that should be a one-time deal. Georgetown still has faint mid-March hopes as well so they will be juiced tomorrow. Final score: Georgetown 65, SJU 61

9 Cincinnati vs. 8 Providence - Providence is still on the bubble and will need this win to get in. They have swept UC this season and won't have the burden of flying in from the mid-west and playing for the second straight day. Expect this to be close but Keno Davis succeeds in his BET debut. Final Score: Providence 81, Cincinnati 71
12 Georgetown vs. 5 Marquette- Marquette's No. 5 seed is misleading. They started out 10-0 in the conference but has lost their last four after losing Dominic James. But they can still score points, something the Hoyas struggle with. It will be a gritty game and a close one that will come down to the last minute but Jerel Mcneal and Lazar Haywood will be clutch. Final Score: Marquette 74, Georgetown 68
10 Notre Dame vs. 7 West Virginia- This is a 7pm game. Perfect time to go get some dinner. Maybe the nice Italian place downtown, or something lighter if you are trying to get in shape for the summertime. I'd go with a nice dessert as well, some cheesecake sounds good. Why the talk about food? Because this is the game of the day that you can miss. Final Score: WVU 83, ND 67.
11 Seton Hall vs. 6 Syracuse- This is my game of the day. Seton Hall should get a good crowd and Syracuse always does so both teams will be amped. These two teams matchup well because Syracuse likes to go small with Paul Harris at power forward, hiding his size in their zone, and SHU has to go small with Robert Mitchell at PF. Bobby Gonzalez has done an amazing job this year by winning as many Big East games as he has rotation players, and he'll find a way to keep this one close. Cuse blew out the Hall earlier in the season but these are two different teams. Final Score: SHU 84, Syracuse 82.

5 Marquette vs. 4 Villanova- This was a blowout in Marquette's favor a month ago. It could go a full 180 degrees this time. Marquette is plummetting, Villanova is hitting their stride. And not having James to guard Nova's littany of guards will be a problem. Final Score: Villanova 91, Marquette 83
7 West Virginia vs. 2 Pittsburgh- Another rendition of the Backyard Brawl on the parque, and it should be a good one. Pitt won the tourney last year but I think will not have their foot on the pedal this time around because they want to be fresh for March. This game matters for seeding for Bob Huggins. Expect to see that in the score. Final Score: WVU 73, Pitt 68.
11 Seton Hall vs. 3 Connecticut- Connecticut is definitely not the same team since losing its best backcourt player in Jerome Dyson. They've able to come out of it largely unscathed though - save two losses to Pittsburgh - because of the rapid improvement of Hasheem Thabeet. They will struggle with the better teams in March, but luckily for them Seton Hall is not on that level. And they definitely do not matchup well with the Huskies. Final Score: Connecticut 75, SHU 64
8 Providence vs. 1 Louisville- Remember when everyone thought Louisville was going to have a down year. Rick Pitino has done his annual trick of turning a putrid first half team into a Final Four contender. The Cards have flipped their "On" switch and that means the defense is suffocating. This year is no defense. Providence is going to struggle against UL because they struggle for points outside of Weyinmi Efejuku. Final Score: Louisville 69, Providence 59.

7 West Virginia vs. 3 Connecticut- This could be troublesome for Connecticut. De'Sean Butler is the type of big wing player that causes problems for UConn (think Sam Young) because they don't have anybody to guard them. Stanley Robinson isn't a good enough perimeter defender and none of the guards are big enough. But Connecticut is still too good and too talented to lose to the Mountaineers because Jeff Adrien and Thabeet are uncomparable compared to what WVU has inside. But WVU can pull off the upset if Devin Ebanks comes up with a huge game. Final Score: Connecticut 68, WVU 63
4 Villanova vs. 1 Louisville- As good as Pitino's teams have been since joining the Big East, the farthest they have gotten in the BET is the semi-finals. And that was only once in 2007. It's not a coincidence either because Pitino knows that saving that energy for the tournament that really matters is more important. Villanova has the huge advantage in the backcourt and will need a huge perimeter shooting day because its outsized inside and should respond. Final Score: Villanova 72, Louisville 68.

4 Villanova vs. 3 Connecticut- UConn needs this game more than the Wildcats. If they win the BET, it should wrap up a number one seed in NCAA Tournament. If Villanova wins, they still stay in that 3-4 range, probably a 3. That's not much of a difference. So expect Jim Calhoun to get his team hyped up. The Huskies have a huge advantage in the post, offensively and defensively. Look for them to exploit that, especially defensively where they will try to force Villanova into becoming a solely perimeter team and make Dante Cunningham useless. Final Score: Connecticut 76, Villanova 68.

Player of the Tournamet: Hasheem Thabeet
Team of the Tournament:
Thabeet, Scottie Reynolds, De'Sean Butler, Efejuku, Terrence Williams

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