The 2012 Big East Championship is upon us. Whether you have followed the conference closely all season or are just getting to the party, here is your guide.
Syracuse. It does not take an expert to figure this one out, so you are in the right place. The Orange are the clear-cut class of the Big East this season. With their depth and talent, along with the double-bye, this is Syracuse’s tournament to lose.
Let’s go way out on a limb here and say South Florida could pull this one off. The Bulls give everyone fits with their defensive, plodding style, which by default keeps most of their games close and gives them a chance. South Florida has a first round bye so it does not have to navigate a five-game run. Further, they are on the opposite side of the bracket from Syracuse so would not run into the Orange, whom they played close at the Carrier Dome on February 22, until the tournament final.
Most Interesting Storyline:
The problem with this one is it could be very short-lived, but there will be plenty of talk about Connecticut repeating its improbable run of a year ago. As was the case last season, the Huskies are the #9 seed and will meet DePaul in Tuesday’s noon affair thanks to a tiebreaker scenario that put Connecticut ahead of Seton Hall when Rutgers defeated St. John’s on Saturday night. That is where the similarities end. This season’s Huskies simply are not as good as last year’s version. Last year Connecticut was ranked (#21) coming into the tournament and finished .500 in what was arguably the strongest Big East ever. Further, Connecticut currently does not have a go-to leader to fill Kemba Walker’s monster role during last year’s run. Those who are asking will want to know if Jeremy Lamb can become that guy as he is certainly talented enough to be a difference-maker. Head coach Jim Calhoun‘s health will be a major subplot in it all as well. Will his back problem allow him to coach the team each day should they earn a couple of wins, and will his presence represent a rallying point for the team as it appeared to in the Huskies’ win over Pittsburgh on Saturday? Prediction… if the Huskies get by West Virginia in the second round, their tournament ends on Thursday when they fall to Syracuse.