The brain-trust of the MarquetteHoops.com writing staff makes their predictions for Madison Square Garden and breaks it all down from the quarterfinals on.
12-Providence West Virginia
3-Connecticut Connecticut Connecticut (MR)
Louisville Louisville (JW)
11-Seton Hall Marquette
Edgar Sosa, Louisville Hasheem Thabeet, UConn
Sosa A.J. Price, UConn
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse Jerel McNeal, Marquette
Jeff Adrien, UConn Donte' Greene, Syracuse
Arinze Onuaku, Syracuse Thabeet
David Padgett, Louisville Padgett
The first quarterfinal will pit Syracuse against Georgetown, and what a matchup this will be. Syracuse gets a boost from the pro-New York crowd, but Georgetown always gets up to play this storied rivalry. Syracuse is more athletic that Georgetown and can pressure the Hoyas' ball handlers. If Georgetown stays in man, they will get hurt by Syracuse's bevy of former All-Americans. The Orange are hot at the right time and they will beat Georgetown for the second time in a row, likely securing themselves a place in the NCAA's
West Virginia is a tough, defensive-minded team, but the Huskies are simply too athletic. And then there's Hasheem Thabeet…
Cincinnati, meet David Padgett. The undersized bearcats will make a concerted effort to stop Padgett, doubling him often and pressuring him away from the basket, and the senior center will make Cincy pay with his passing ability. Deonta Vaughn won't be able to carry his team against the Cardinals' defensive intensity and the ‘Ville rolls.
Kyle McAlarney always gets pumped up to play in front of his home fans, but one of Marquette's strengths all season has been defending perimeter shooters. The likeliest of unlikely heroes, Dwight Burke, will play a big part in partially containing Luke Harangody. In the end, it will be the scoring of Wes Matthews, who only had one field goal in the last game against the Irish, which makes the difference for the Golden Eagles this time around.
Syracuse and UConn would square off in the first semifinal. As in the last time these two teams faces, Jeff Adrien and Thabeet create match-up problems for the Orange. In a battle of the league's two most athletic teams, size wins out. And with Donte' Greene in foul trouble from guarding Adrien, the Orange's already short depth chart gets even shorter. The Huskies win.
It's especially hard to beat a team three times in one season. Unfortunately, that's the only thing Marquette has going for it in a semifinals match-up with Louisville. This one will be closer than the previous meetings, but Louisville is simply the better team.
The Big East Championship presents such an intriguing match-up that we couldn't come to an agreement on who would win. We therefore provide both arguments and you can decide for yourself on this one.
Jeff Wolf's take:
Thabeet is as formidable as they come inside, but Padgett can pull him away from the basket, where he is much less of a defensive threat. Sosa's jumper will cone up big for Louisville, as will their defense. This team can just plain pressure the ball. When their shots weren't falling against Georgetown, the Cardinals used defense to overcome an 11-point deficit and nearly pull of the win. Look for more of the same in the Big East Championship, as Louisville takes it. This win should also give them a pretty good shot at a No. 2 seed when the final NCAA pairings are announced on Selection Sunday.
Marco Radenkovich's take:
Even though Louisville is the higher seed in the tournament, UConn will give Louisville all it can handle. Padgett likes to sit outside on top of the key, but it doesn't mean Thabeet has to follow him. If UConn forces Louisville to take outside shots, they will take this game. Look for AJ Price to have a huge game, as UConn wins a close game.
Marquette opens the Big East Tournament against Seton Hall Wednesday night at 8 p.m. CDT.