Big East Conference Tournament Preview

What

The 2010 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament brought to you by New York Life

At Stake

An automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, NCAA Tournament seeding and for some the opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Tournament at all.

Where

Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY

When

The tournament begins with four Opening Round games on Tuesday, March 9th at 12 p.m. ET and ends Saturday, March 13th, when the two remaining teams square off for the right to be called Big East Tournament Champion.

The Favorite

No. 1 seed Syracuse enters the Big East Tournament coming off it's best regular season in 20 years.  The Orange were ranked No. 1 in the nation during the season for the first time since 1990 and for the first time ever in March.  They enter the Big East Tournament as the No. 3 team in the nation and as close to a lock for a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament as possible.  As long as they win at least one game in the BET, there will be no doubt.  However the Orange don't seem interested in being simply handed hardware.  They've got a chip re-affirmed to their shoulder thanks to Louisville, who beat them twice in the last few weeks.  They'll want to remind everyone that they're not just a fancy defensive scheme.  They really are the best team in the conference.

Other Contenders:

How much time do you have?  The Big East is absolutely loaded with contenders and teams that can make a run in the tournament. 

Not too long ago, 2-seed Pitt would have been more likely to end up a 7 or 8-seed.  Then they won eight of their last nine and are pretty much on fire. The Panthers are also Big East Tourney tested having played in 7 of the last 9 championship games.

3-seed West Virginia is probably the most likely one.  The Mountaineers are built for tourney time.  All-Big East player Da'Sean Butler leads a ferocious attack and they can rebound with the best of them.  WVU has never won the BET...they could be due.

Up until two weeks ago, everyone assume that Villanova was a lock for a NCAA Tournament one seed.  Then they lost four of their last six and faded into the pack.  The "forgotten" power in the conference, Scottie Reynold's boys could re-emerge just in time and get a little revenge on teams like West Virginia and Syracuse that beat them.

7-seed Notre Dame is officially Team Frisky and the one team no one wants to face right now.  The Irish rattled off four-straight wins to close out the year, including at Georgetown and Marquette.  That they did it without Luke Harangody speaks volumes...especially about Harangody's true value.

Names You Should Know

Scottie Reynolds, Villanova - The senior returned to Villanova to win a championship.  He can help put the Wildcats back in contention for an NCAA Tournament one-seed by leading them to a BET championship first.

Andy Rautins, Syracuse - Wes Johnson gets the accolades and praise but Andy is Syracuse's real floor general.  He's also an assassin from long range.  If anyone is going to re-enact Gerry McNamara's legendary Big East Tournament antics, it's him.

Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia - The Mountaineer's leading scorer and emotional leader.  No opponent's lead is safe when Butler has the ball.

Greg Monroe, Georgetown - The 6'11" sophomore averahed 16 points and 10 boards a game.  He might be the difference between Georgetown losing early and crawling into the NCAA Tournament and making their case for a 4-5 seed.

Dominique Jones, South Florida - The Bulls are in the midst of their best Big East season and Jones is a big part of that.  The Big East scoring leader averaged 23.2 points per game in the conference and also grabs plenty of rebounds.

Wesley Johnson, Syracuse - Seemingly out of nowhere, Johnson became a phenom for the Orange this year.  He leads Syracuse in scoring and rebounding and is good for at least two or three "Oh my God" plays every game.

Lazar Hayward, Marquette - The Eagles are a forgotten team in the tournament but Hayward could remind folks real quick.  He's a big reason why Marquette is going to the NCAAs this year after a rough start.

Schedule

Tuesday's Opening Round (all times Eastern)
Game 1: #9 USF vs. #16 DePaul (Noon)
Game 2: #12 UConn vs. #13 St. John's (2pm)
Game 3: #10 Seton Hall vs. #15 Providence (7pm)
Game 4: #11 Cincinnati vs. #14 Rutgers (9pm)

Wednesday's 2nd Round
Game 5: USF/DePaul Winner vs. #8 Georgetown (Noon)
Game 6: UConn/St. John's Winner vs. #5 Marquette (2pm)
Game 7: Hall/Prov Winner vs. #7 Notre Dame (7pm)
Game 8: Cincy/Rutg Winner vd. #6 Louisville (9pm)

Thursday's Quarterfinal Round
Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs. #1 Syracuse (Noon)
Game 10: Game 6 Winner vs. #4 Villanova (2pm)
Game 11: Game 7 Winner vs. #2 Pittsburgh (7pm)
Game 12: Game 8 Winner vs. #3 West Virginia (9pm)

Friday's Semifinal Round
Game 13: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner (7pm)
Game 14: Game 11 Winner vs. Game 12 Winner (9pm)

Saturday's Championship Game
Game 13 Winner vs. Game 14 Winner (9pm)

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