Big East Conference Preview

A look at the Big East Conference basketball tournament, opening today at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Big East Conference Tournament
At New York City (Madison Square Garden)
Regular-season champion:
Boston College and Connecticut (shared it at 13-3)

Wednesday schedule: West Virginia vs. Providence; Georgetown vs. Seton Hall; Notre Dame vs. Rutgers.

Thursday quarterfinals: Boston College vs. West Virginia/Providence winner; Villanova vs. Pittsburgh; Connecticut vs. Georgetown/Seton Hall winner; Syracuse vs. Notre Dame/Rutgers winner.

Best non-championship matchup: Villanova vs. Pittsburgh in a quarterfinal.

Keep this in mind: Three teams (Connecticut, Villanova and Pittsburgh) are playing extremely well right now. ... Georgetown, once seemingly a "lock" for an at-large bid a few weeks ago, has dropped five in a row. Will getting to the tournament final be enough to get back in the selection committee's good graces?

Player to check out: Connecticut sophomore point guard Marcus Williams has been marvelous of late (13.0 points and 9.7 assists per game during team's six-game winning streak).

Projected tournament winner: Connecticut over Pittsburgh. The programs hook up for the title for the fourth year in a row, with the Huskies having titles sandwiched around Pitt's win in 2003.

At-large Land: Boston College, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova are in the field of 65, with solid seeds, regardless of what transpires in New York. Notre Dame and West Virginia seemed relatively assured of bids – assuming Wednesday victories and no bundle of upsets in many of the so-called "mid-major" conferences that would snap up at-large bids.

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