Big East Tournament Day Three: Best and Worst Case ScenariosPosted by Dan Lyons on March 14th, 2013
The quarterfinals are here, which means the Big East tournament is in full swing, and the top four seeds will get their chance at the league as-we-know-it’s final crown. Georgetown and Cincinnati open today’s festivities at Noon, followed by a 21st century ACC donnybrook between Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
No. 9 seed Cincinnati had a strong showing against Providence yesterday afternoon, defeating the Friars 61-44 behind 17 points from Sean Kilpatrick and 15 points and 10 rebounds from JaQuon Parker.
Next game: Cincinnati will look to upset top seeded Georgetown at Noon.
- Best Case: Cincinnati nearly took down Georgetown at Fifth Third Arena in February, losing a tight one, 62-55. Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright were a combined 3-of-15 from three point range in that one; if Cincinnati’s guards can knock down some shots from the outside they should not have much of an issue keeping up with Georgetown’s scoring. Consistent guard play is the key for the Bearcats; if Kilpatrick keeps up his solid play and Wright finally returns to the level that he was playing at before he missed time due to injury, Cincinnati can make a run in this tournament.
- Worst Case: The Bearcats get frustrated against Georgetown’s probing Princeton offense and Otto Porter flashes his normal brilliance, and the Hoyas run away with a double-digit victory. Cincinnati’s next conference tournament game is played in front of 4,000 fans at the Izod Center against Tulane.
Syracuse struggled down the stretch of the regular season, but a strong second half propelled them to a 75-63 win over Seton Hall. The Orange dropped their game at The Pete earlier this year, but were without forward James Southerland. Will an Orange-friendly crowd and Southerland’s three-point prowess make the difference for Jim Boeheim’s squad?
Next game: Syracuse faces No. 4 seed Pittsburgh in the 2:00 PM slot.
- Best Case: Syracuse knocks off their future ACC rival behind continued strong play from Southerland and Brandon Triche, who had their best games in weeks against Seton Hall. The Orange contingency in New York continues to grow, and Syracuse rides momentum to one last Big East tournament title and jumps back up to the three-seed line in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse’s main issue during the team’s recent slide has been poor jump shooting. If Southerland and Triche can knock down shots, Syracuse can be dangerous in New York.
- Worst Case: The game against Seton Hall was, in fact, against Seton Hall. Pittsburgh’s suffocating man defense keeps Triche and Southerland in check, causing Michael Carter-Williams to attempt to take the game over himself, which is generally a losing strategy for Syracuse. The Orange stay on the five-line, and fans sweat out the potential #5/#12 upset for a week.
Pittsburgh wrapped up the four seed after winning 11 of its last 14 games, and rides into New York on a four-game winning streak. The Panthers have flown a bit under the radar this season without a dominant headline-grabbing star, but their balanced attack make them a dangerous contender in their last Big East Tournament.
Next game: Pittsburgh faces Syracuse in the 2:00 PM game.
- Best Case: Pitt always gives Syracuse major headaches, and today’s game is no different. C.J. Fair gets his, but Pitt is able to shut down Syracuse’s outside shooting, and cruise to victory behind solid play from Trey Woodall and strong performances by Talib Zanna and Steven Adams, taking advantage of Syracuse’s lack of depth inside. The Panthers aren’t quite as dominant as they were in their 28-point drubbing of the Hoyas earlier this year, but their disruptive defense forces Georgetown’s young guards into mistakes, and the Panthers advance to the conference championship game, looking to add to a Big East Tourney-best 20 wins since 2000.
- Worst Case: Syracuse gets the ball to Fair early and often, while freeing up Southerland for a few big threes, and the Orange offense clicks. Pitt can’t keep up on offense, and loses a narrow one to the Orange. Jamie Dixon takes the USC job, and the Panthers enter a new conference under a completely new regime. The ACC refs call as many fouls as Pitt fans feared they would.
Georgetown hasn’t captured a Big East tournament championship since 2007, but with the top seed, the Hoyas look poised for a run this season. With the league’s top player in Otto Porter and strong play Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown’s efficient offense and tight defense have given teams major fits this season.
Next game: Georgetown opens up its Big East Tournament with No. 9 seed Cincinnati at Noon.
- Best Case: Otto Porter continues to dominate in conference play, and the Hoyas easily dispatch of Cincinnati in the quarterfinals. The Hoyas meet up with Syracuse on Friday night and put down their hated rivals for a third time this year, and then drop future Catholic 7 mates Marquette for the Big East title. The conference championship puts Georgetown’s resume over the top, and they lock up a No. 1 seed in the big dance.
- Worst Case: Porter doesn’t get much scoring help, but the Hoyas are able to sneak by Cincinnati. However, they run into the same Pitt buzzsaw that dismantled them back in January. Georgetown fans shake off the loss rather quickly, and are content to see that their Hoyas have a top three seed, until they see the #14-seed that they will face in the first round… the Ohio Bobcats.