Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tournament Preview: Big East Quarterfinals

That Seton Hall-Syracuse game turned into an old-school Big East game: chippy, physical, and on the brink of getting out of the officials' control. As a kid growing up in ACC country I hated that stuff. It wasn't the way basketball was supposed to be played, and it certainly wasn't anything to be emulated. In short, the Big East was everything that was wrong with basketball. Now, though, I've come to have a certain appreciation for the Big East. I still wouldn't say that I like it, but I sure do appreciate that the league has an identity. That they've been able to maintain that identity through all manner of changes in membership and expansion to the brink of absurdity is pretty cool, too.

On to today's games. Louisville shouldn't have much of a problem with Providence in the opener. TAPE likes the Cardinals by 12¾ points (82.9 to 70.2 in a blistering 74.7 possessions).

TAPE sees Villanova as 3¼-point favorites over Marquette (76.6 to 73.4 in 70.2 possessions). The absence of Dominic James hasn't been accounted for, so that spread should probably be at least a couple points bigger.

Pittsburgh are only 1½ points better than West Virginia on the neutral floor according to TAPE (69.7 to 68.2 in 65.4 possessions). Pitt's only clear point of separation from the Mountaineers is on the offensive glass, so, just as in every Pittsburgh game, DeJuan Blair's presence on the court is the key to the whole thing.

UConn are 6 point favorites over the 'Cuse in the final game of the day (82.7 to 76.6 in 73.5 possessions). If the sloppiness of UVa-BC gets to be too much, click over to this game for what should be some really good basketball.

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