For a look at the Big East Bracket pairings, click here.
There's only one guarantee regarding the text and projections below…something is wrong.
Tuesday's PredictionsBoth afternoon contests will be televised on ESPN2. The evening matchups will be shown on ESPNU.
#9 Connecticut vs. #16 DePaul: Connecticut – but not without a scare through the first 8-10 minutes of the second half.
Tip-off: Tuesday, Noon EST
#12 Seton Hall vs. #13 Rutgers: Seton Hall – the Pirates could make a two-game run in Manhattan, but Mike Rice's Rutgers squad won't go down easily in the battle for the Garden State's soul. (Which might be an overstatement, but the game will be hotly contested nonetheless.)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 2:00 EST
#10 Villanova vs. #15 South Florida: Villanova – the reeling Wildcats were fortunate to run into South Florida rather than dangerous Providence in their opening matchup. South Florida can't beat a team with a faint pulse…which I suppose keeps the final outcome of this matchup in relative doubt.
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:00 EST
#11 Marquette vs. #14 Providence: Marquette – likely too-close-for-comfort for Marquette fans, but the Golden Eagles will secure an NCAA bid by simply avoiding a third straight loss at season's end.
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:00 EST
Wednesday's PredictionsThe back-end of each matchup is subject to change (below is simply my forecast with winners from Tuesday's contests), but we'll cross that prediction bridge when necessary.
#8 Georgetown vs. #9 UConn: UConn – DePaul provided the perfect Game One warm-up for the Huskies and Kemba Walker to gain confidence and momentum in an effort to take down the rival Hoyas, who will be without senior point guard Chris Wright until at least the NCAA's first round.
Tip-off: Wednesday, Noon EST
#5 St. John's vs. #12 Seton Hall: Seton Hall – last Thursday's upset was no fluke. The Pirates take out the home town team and the purported St. John's Invitational fizzles.
Tip-off: Wednesday, 2:00 EST
#7 Cincinnati vs. #10 Villanova: Cincinnati – I've never been high on the Bearcats, but Mick Cronin's crew will defend the still-staggered Wildcats to the bitter end.
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:00 EST
#6 West Virginia vs. #11 Marquette: West Virginia – in the best game of the opening two-day slate, look for Marquette to do what they do best: lose a close contest.
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:00 EST
Thursday's PairingsThree of the four "Double Bye" teams from 2010 (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Villanova) lost their first tournament game last season. The fourth, West Virginia, won the Big East Championship.
#1 Pittsburgh vs. #9 UConn: Pittsburgh – A third straight day of ball catches up with the legs of Kemba Walker, and a quintet of freshmen are no help vs. the men of the Steel City.
Tip-off: Thursday, Noon EST
#4 Syracuse vs. #12 Seton Hall: Syracuse – The Pirates' run ends as the Orange extract a measure of revenge for the 90-68 beat down suffered at the hands of The Hall at the Carrier Dome this January.
Tip-off: Thursday, 2:00 EST
#2 Notre Dame vs. #7 Cincinnati: Notre Dame – I still can't figure out how the Bearcats have won five of their last six…it is to be hoped we won't figure that out together Thursday night…
Tip-off: Thursday, 7:00 EST
#3 Louisville vs. #6 West Virginia: West Virginia – The Mountaineers take the season's rubber match and their second from Rick Pitino's Cardinals in less than a week.
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:00 EST
Friday's Semi-FinalsThe Irish have never advanced past the semi-final round in Big East play, earning two trips to Friday night over their last four appearances.
#1 Pittsburgh vs. #4 Syracuse: Pittsburgh – The Panthers possess the patience to beat the Orange 2-3 zone, the strength to handle Syracuse center Rick Jackson, in the paint, and the guts to win a close contest en route to Championship Saturday. They finished 15-3 in the nation's best league for a reason.
Tip-off : 7:00 EST
#2 Notre Dame vs. #6 West Virginia: West Virginia – The Mountaineers, who delivered Notre Dame its only loss since January 16, possess three of four necessary ingredients to again take down the red-hot Irish:
- A penetrating guard in Joe Mazzulla
- An in-your-face defense that can harass Hansbrough off the dribble and take the league's most valuable player out of his comfort zone on screen-and-rolls
- The ability to defend the three-point shot for 40 minutes