Big East Tournament Day Three (Night Edition): Best and Worst Case ScenariosPosted by Will Tucker on March 14th, 2013
There are two remaining spots in the Big East Tournament semifinals after Syracuse outlasted Pitt and Georgetown blew out Cincinnati earlier this afternoon. Here are the best and worst case scenarios for the two remaining teams who haven’t played until tonight.
No. 3 seed Marquette is enjoying its second Big East Tournament double-bye in as many years. The Golden Eagles will take the court for the first time tonight after reeling off four straight wins to close the season with a share of the league title. They’ll try to shake off last year’s one-and-done against Louisville in Madison Square Garden and capture their first Big East postseason title.
Next game: Marquette will take on No. 6 seed Notre Dame in today’s quarterfinals in the 9:00 PM nightcap.
- Best case: The Golden Eagles sneak by Notre Dame and draw Villanova in the semifinals, outracing the exhausted Wildcats before slipping by Syracuse in a moment of complacency to claim their first Big East Championship. A sweat-drenched Buzz Williams pirouettes his way off the MSG sideline and into a comfortable NCAA two-seed.
- Worst case: Marquette sleepwalks through a lethargic loss to Notre Dame –– its second Big East one-and-done in two years –– and Buzz Williams’ team ends up with a five-seed on Selection Sunday, possibly facing a Arizona or Kansas State in the first weekend. Their contention for the 2012 Big East Championship was cut short in the quarterfinals by a lower seeded team that the Golden Eagles had beaten handily during the regular season. Coming off a double-bye, many teams struggle to match the intensity of an opponent that already has one or two games in the tournament atmosphere under their belts, especially when that opponent is out for revenge. And while this year’s team has proven its ability to string together consecutive wins against upper echelon Big East competition, they’re playing without the tournament experience and talent that graduated seniors Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom brought to the table last year. Given those circumstances, tonight’s quarterfinal match-up with Notre Dame is an ideal trap game, and it’s not hard to imagine a flat or nervous effort dooming the Golden Eagles in their first outing in MSG.
No. 2 seed Louisville arrived in New York City with the league’s longest active winning streak, claiming seven consecutive wins and takes the floor in MSG for the first time with the incumbent’s target on their backs, after sweeping through an unlikely Big East Championship run last March after many had left them for dead.
Next game: Louisville takes on No. 7 seed Villanova in today’s quarterfinals in the 7:00 p.m. slot.
- Best case: The Cardinals methodically pick apart Villanova with newfound offensive efficiency, before getting another crack at a Marquette team that never mounted much of a threat in their regular season meeting. Syracuse gives Georgetown a taxing challenge, and the Hoyas turn it over too much to Louisville in the title bout to control the flow of the game, giving Rick Pitino’s team its first one-seed in the NCAA Tournament since 2009.
- Worst case: Louisville shows up flat coming off a double-bye –– a habit they’ve struggled with in the past –– and lays an egg down the stretch against a Villanova team eager to make certain it has locked up an NCAA bid. Without the steady, meditative sanctuary of a Waffle House within driving distance, Russ Smith goes into sugar withdrawal and shoots 1-of-20 from the field. The Cards get a No. 2 seed and draw a Tom Izzo team still smarting from last year’s upset loss in a Sweet Sixteen rematch.