Big East Tournament--Staff predictions

The MUHoops Staff weighs in with their predictions.

Ben Greene—Freshman
Predicted Champion: Syracuse

Day 1 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (16) DePaul
(13) Pittsburgh over (12) St. John's
(10) Seton Hall over (15) Providence
(14) Villanova over (11) Rutgers

Day 2 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (8) West Virginia
(5) Georgetown over (13) Pittsburgh
(7) Louisville over (10) Seton Hall
(6) South Florida over (14) Villanova

Day 3 Winners

(1) Syracuse over (9) Connecticut
(5) Georgetown over (4) Cincinnati
(2) Marquette over (7) Louisville
(6) South Florida over (3) Notre Dame

Day 4 Winners

(1) Syracuse over (5) Georgetown
(2) Marquette over (6) South Florida

Championship

(1) Syracuse over (2) Marquette

BET Outlook: All season long, college basketball analysts have regarded the Big East Conference as one of the best (if not the best) conferences in the nation. With that in mind, this week should be a good one, as all 16 Big East teams will be vying for a shot at the coveted Big East Championship.

Marquette's first game of the tournament will be against Louisville on Thursday. When the Cardinals first traveled to the Bradley Center in January, they blew a 16 point lead and lost by 11. If the Golden Eagles find themselves in a similar hole on Thursday, they may not be able to dig themselves out, as Kyle Kuric, Louisville's leading scorer, will be able to play this time around. With Davante Gardner back in action, Marquette should be able to control the flow of the game and advance to the semi-finals.

Possibly the most intriguing matchup of the tournament will also take place on Thursday, as a hot South Florida team will meet a struggling Notre Dame squad. Though the Irish caught fire from mid-January to late-February, they have since cooled off, losing two of their last three. USF, on the other hand, has been playing their best basketball of the year lately, allowing under 50 points per game in their last eight contests. Furthermore, Notre Dame just does not play as well away from South Bend, leading me to believe that the Bulls will pull the upset.

On Saturday, I expect Syracuse and Marquette to meet each other in the Big East Championship game. In their first meeting, the Golden Eagles followed up a pathetic 19 point first half with an incredible 47 point second to lose to the ‘Cuse by only seven. If Marquette can play up to their potential, they may be able to defeat the Orange and win the Big East title. However, I predict that Syracuse will come into the championship game looking to make a statement before the national tournament starts and bury their competition.

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Alex Jesswein—Senior
Predicted Champion: Marquette


Day 1 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (16) DePaul
(13) Pittsburgh over (12) St. John's
(10) Seton Hall over (15) Providence
(14) Villanova over (11) Rutgers

Day 2 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (8) West Virginia
(5) Georgetown over (13) Pittsburgh
(7) Louisville over (10) Seton Hall
(14) Villanova over (6) South Florida

Day 3 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (1) Syracuse
(5) Georgetown over (4) Cincinnati
(2) Marquette over (7) Louisville
(3) Notre Dame over (14) Villanova

Day 4 Winners

(5) Georgetown over (9) Connecticut
(2) Marquette over (3) Notre Dame

Championship

(2) Marquette over (5) Georgetown

BET Outlook: Can lightning strike twice in The Garden for Connecticut? Unfortunately for them I don't see five wins in five games happening twice in a row, but I do feel the Huskies can shock the nation. After a day of mild upsets (Nova over Rutgers and Pitt over Rutgers), the Huskies will catch a sleepy Mountaineers team off-guard in round two. Georgetown should handle Pitt and Louisville will beat Seton Hall before Villanova puts a stinger in South Florida's tournament hopes.

Day three will bring the biggest shocker of them all as No. 1 seeded Syracuse will fall to the Huskies in MSG, leading Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to complain about the fact his team had a double-bye while UConn was able to build up momentum. After Georgetown exacts revenge on Cincinnati in the second game, Marquette's fresh legs outlast a tired Cardinal team in a low-scoring affair. In the nightcap, Notre Dame ends Villanova's run at a Big East title.

The semifinals on Friday night bring a pair of traditional rivalries as the Huskies face off against the Hoyas and Marquette faces Notre Dame. Playing their fourth game in as many days and with an NCAA bid solidified, UConn's magical run ends against the Hoyas. Meanwhile, Notre Dame struggles to find the bottom of the net from downtown against Marquette and Davante Gardner's presence against Cooley is the difference as the Golden Eagles advance to their first-ever Big East Championship game.

A rematch of a game a week prior, Marquette and Georgetown meet at MSG to settle the score and determine the season series winner. Much more is on the line though as both teams are vying for the Big East automatic bid and a potential No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. At the end of the night, it's the Marquette Golden Eagles flexing their muscle as they claim their first ever Big East title.

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Mike Adleman—Senior
Predicted Champion: Syracuse


Day 1 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (16) DePaul
(13) Pittsburgh over (12) St. John's
(10) Seton Hall over (15) Providence
(11) Rutgers over (14) Villanova

Day 2 Winners

(8) West Virginia over (9) Connecticut
(13) Pittsburgh over (5) Georgetown
(7) Louisville over (10) Seton Hall
(6) South Florida over (11) Rutgers

Day 3 Winners

(1) Syracuse over (8) West Virginia
(4) Cincinnati over (13) Pittsburgh
(2) Marquette over (7) Louisville
(6) South Florida over (3) Notre Dame

Day 4 Winners

(1) Syracuse over (5) Georgetown
(2) Marquette over (6) South Florida

Championship

(1) Syracuse over (2) Marquette

BET Outlook: I'm going to pick chalk for the first two days of play, with the exception of Pittsburgh as my dark horse. Jamie Dixon always seems to have the Panthers ready for the bright lights of The World's Most Famous Arena. I think South Florida also has a chance to pick up a pair of wins in this year's tournament. Although the Bulls are coming off a loss at home to West Virginia, they've been playing up to their potential lately. They need to booster their tournament résumé after a poor showing in nonconference play earlier this season. Marquette has a favorable draw, and an opportunity to play on Saturday is in their sights. They're success might depend on Davante Gardner's status, who was limping noticeably after the Golden Eagles win over Georgetown on Saturday. Marquette has already punched it's ticket to the Big Dance, so Gardner will probably be used sparingly. In the end, a Syracuse team with Fab Melo in the lineup will be just too much for any team to overcome. Look for Jim Boeheim and the Orange to tear down the nets on Saturday for the sixth time since the Big East Tournament began in 1980.

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Mark Strotman—Senior
Predicted Champion: Syracuse


Day 1 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (16) DePaul
(13) Pittsburgh over (12) St. John's
(10) Seton Hall over (15) Providence
(14) Villanova over (11) Rutgers

Day 2 Winners

(8) West Virginia over (9) Connecticut
(5) Georgetown over (13) Pittsburgh
(7) Louisville over (10) Seton Hall
(14) Villanova over (6) South Florida

Day 3 Winners

(1) Syracuse over (8) West Virginia
(5) Georgetown over (4) Cincinnati
(7) Louisville over (2) Marquette
(14) Villanova over (3) Notre Dame

Day 4 Winners

(1) Syracuse over (5) Georgetown
(7) Louisville over (14) Villanova

Championship

(1) Syracuse over (7) Louisville

BET Outlook: Kemba Walker's play in last year's Big East Tournament was incredible to watch, and I'll go out on a limb and say Villanova's Maalik Wayns pulls a mini-Kemba and wills the Wildcats to Friday night. I love his game, thought he got snubbed as a first team All-Big East member and his supporting cast isn't half bad. If Jayvaughn Pinkston and Mouphtaou Yarou can control the paint, Wayns can take care of the rest. Their schedule sets up nicely, playing slow-paced teams in South Florida and Notre Dame. This will allow them to stay in games, and neither of those teams have dominant point guards who can slow down Wayns.

Overall, it's tough to pick against Syracuse. They essentially will be playing home games throughout the tournament and they literally have zero weaknesses. And maybe it's because the memory of Mike Marra destroying the Golden Eagles is still fresh in my mind, but the Cardinals also have the talent and coaching to make a run late into the week. Peyton Siva's play and their wing's outside shooting will be crucial against Marquette, but Gorgui Dieng is a force and Chase Behanan is improving every day.

It's tough to pick against Marquette, especially if Davante Gardner can play around 20 minutes on Thursday, but it's just a hunch that they come crashing back to Earth before a deep NCAA Tournament run. That being said, the Golden Eagles' side of the bracket is much easier for a run.

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Matt Trebby—Junior
Predicted Champion: Marquette


Day 1 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (16) DePaul
(13) Pittsburgh over (12) St. John's
(15) Providence over (10) Seton Hall
(14) Villanova over (11) Rutgers

Day 2 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (8) West Virginia
(5) Georgetown over (13) Pittsburgh
(7) Louisville over (15) Providence
(6) South Florida over (14) Villanova

Day 3 Winners

(1) Syracuse over (9) Connecticut
(5) Georgetown over (4) Cincinnati
(2) Marquette over (7) Louisville
(6) South Florida over (3) Notre Dame

Day 4 Winners

(5) Georgetown over (1) Syracuse
(2) Marquette over (6) South Florida

Championship

(2) Marquette over (5) Georgetown

BET Outlook: As I looked to pick the winner of the Big East Tournament correctly for the second year running, I found things working out very, very well for Marquette. Georgetown is going to take down Syracuse, then they'll run into Marquette. Outside of 10 minutes this year in DC, Marquette has dominated the Hoyas. Even if they don't face Georgetown, I really think the Golden Eagles will continue their revolutionary season by cutting down the nets at Madison Square Garden.

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Joe Kelly—Sophomore
Predicted Champion: Marquette

Day 1 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (16) DePaul
(12) St. John's over (13) Pittsburgh
(10) Seton Hall over (15) Providence
(14) Villanova over (11) Rutgers

Day 2 Winners

(8) West Virginia over (9) Connecticut
(5) Georgetown over (12) St. John's
(10) Seton Hall over (7) Louisville
(6) South Florida over (14) Villanova

Day 3 Winners

(8) West Virginia over (1) Syracuse
(4) Cincinnati over (5) Georgetown
(2) Marquette over (10) Seton Hall
(3) Notre Dame over (6) South Florida

Day 4 Winners

(4) Cincinnati over (8) West Virginia
(2) Marquette over (3) Notre Dame

Championship

(2) Marquette over (4) Cincinnati

BET Outlook: The only upset I see happening on Day 1 is Villanova beating Rutgers. Villanova defeated Rutgers last Thursday and played Cincinnati extremely tough on Saturday, despite losing the game 72-68. St. John's home court advantage will help them get past Pitt, but I don't think the MSG will be so kind to the Red Storm against Georgetown on Wednesday.

On Day 2, I see Seton Hall defeating Louisville. Look out for Seton Hall's dynamic duo, senior guard Jordan Theodore and senior forward Herb Pope, leave it all on the floor as they try to keep whatever chance the Pirates have to make the NCAA tournament alive. USF has easily defeated Villanova twice this season and I don't expect a different outcome Wednesday night.

On Day 3 of the tournament, I can see West Virginia pulling off the upset over Syracuse. I like West Virginia's toughness inside and I can see forward Kevin Jones giving the Mountaineers the extra boost they need to pull off the upset over the Orange.

In the semifinals I like Cincinnati over West Virginia and Marquette over Notre Dame. I feel Cincinnati's victory over Marquette gave them a major confidence boost and I feel their as good of a defensive team as anyone in the tournament. As for Marquette against Notre Dame, I feel Madison Sqaure Garden is as good as place as any for the Golden Eagles to get back at the Irish.

In the championship game I like Marquette over Cincinnati. The Bearcats may have wanted it more the last time these two teams met, but I believe the dynamic duo of Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder will be too much for Yancy Gates and the Cincinnati Bearcats on the big stage.

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John Dodds—Publisher
Predicted Champion: Syracuse


Day 1 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (16) DePaul
(13) Pittsburgh over (12) St. John's
(10) Seton Hall over (15) Providence
(14) Villanova over (11) Rutgers

Day 2 Winners

(9) Connecticut over (8) West Virginia
(5) Georgetown over (13) Pittsburgh
(7) Louisville over (10) Seton Hall
(6) South Florida over(14) Villanova

Day 3 Winners

(1) Syracuse over (9) Connecticut
(5) Georgetown over (4) Cincinnati
(2) Marquette over (7) Louisville
(3) Notre Dame over (14) Villanova

Day 4 Winners

(1) Syracuse over (5) Georgetown
(2) Marquette over (3) Notre Dame

Championship

(1) Syracuse over (2) Marquette

BET Outlook: For the first time in a long time...MU does not have a lot riding on the NYC Tourney. A one and done would not be the worst thing since it would give Gardner's knee a chance to rest...and the team a chance to rest. If MU beat UL and then ND, will Gardner be able to run vs Syr? If so will he make it back for a possible Thur game? I think MU's playing on a Fri would be bigger than seeding.

MU dodged a bullet with UCONN and Gtown in the upper part of the bracket. They can match up well vs Syr. In fact, they can beat Syr esp if the Orange is distracted with off court issues. The Big East was down in quality from the last two yrs but it still may get 10 teams in the Tourney. This is a great conference to prepare teams for the NCAA...MU runs...Louis runs...Syr has a zone and is long....Gtown runs patterns and back cuts...UCONN is long and physical when focused...ND has very good guards and can hit threes...learning to play against 15 other teams gives you looks at lots of styles...an advantage when you have only 1 day to scout an opponent.

If MU does not make it to the BE final, I will not shed a tear....a low 3 or high 4 is fine with me. Just stay healthy.

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