Big East Morning Five: 03.01.12 EditionPosted by mlemaire on March 1st, 2012
- Hey JaQuon Parker, where did that come from? The junior has scored more than 20 points just once this season, and then all of a sudden, he caught fire last night against No. 8 Marquette and dropped a career-high 28 points on the Golden Eagles with ease. Basically, Cincinnati came to play on Senior Night, and Marquette lost yet another game on the road. The Bearcats repeatedly blew by their defenders for layups and also knew they needed to keep Marquette from scoring fast break points in cruising to the 72-61 win. The win probably takes Cincinnati — who has now won six of their last eight — off the bubble and puts them squarely in the field of 68. For Marquette, they played with fire too many times and they finally couldn’t make another second half comeback.
- It is also probably time to stop doubting whether Stan Heath has a legitimately good team this season. It is true that most of their conference success has been against the bottom half of the conference, but after going into Louisville and leaving with a gutsy 58-51 win, it will be very hard to keep the Bulls out of the NCAA Tournament. Even Cardinals freshman Chane Behanan admitted it, South Florida needed the win more than Louisville, and “they came out hungrier.” The Cardinals didn’t play their best game, but Heath’s club is an underrated defensive club and they deserve most of the credit for holding Louisville to just 34% shooting from the field. At this point, the Big East Tournament is completely wide open, and the Bulls are coming in playing really well (winners of five of their last six) and they could surprise some people with a run.
- Checking in with the best team in the conference, here is a look at the evolution of the aptly described “most polarizing Syracuse player in the last decade,” Scoop Jardine. The Orange senior point guard has become a much better player over his career, and is enjoying a solid final season as he chases a National Championship. Jardine has drawn plenty of ire from ‘Cuse fans for his penchant for turnovers and questionable shot selection at times. But he has settled into the role of distributor on this year’s team and has become a leader for one of the country’s most talented rosters. He has become very efficient, especially in a slightly diminished role, and despite the team’s depth, the Orange would definitely not be the same team without him.
- In news that is maybe only interesting to a former Beltway local like me, legendary former Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson signed off of his radio show for the last time yesterday afternoon. It started as an assignment to talk about the 1999 NCAA Tournament and spawned into one of the most interesting radio shows in the area, lasting 13 years. From a personal standpoint, I used to listen to him all the time. He spoke in the smoothest baritone and he was often refreshingly blunt in his criticism, unafraid to speak his mind. In Washington, D.C., Thompson is a larger than life figure and city lifer. I doubt he will step away from the media entirely, but it sure is bittersweet to hear that the 70-year-old wants to spend more time with his family. He will be missed.
- There is no such thing as too much piling on Connecticut, so I will use the final item today to talk about the fact that many pundits still have the Huskies in the Field of 68 with the regular season nearly over. Jerry Palm points out that the team’s nine losses in its last 12 games is erroneous, because Selection Committee look at a team’s overall body of work rather than late season trends. So fine, let’s look at their overall body of work. I am well aware of where all of the analysts rank UConn, and I respect folks like Palm, Lunardi, and KenPom so I don’t question the math. But the Huskies haven’t beaten a single team in the RPI Top 25 and their best wins (over Florida State and maybe Harvard) came quite early in the season. They might be in for now but they can’t be far from the wrong side of the bubble. Let’s just say that they should probably beat Pittsburgh at home on Saturday.