Conference deserves all eight spots
The Big East is the deepest and the best conference in college basketball. They also could have got more than eight teams into the tournament, if tournament regulars Cincinnati and Louisville were invited. The Big East has something to offer for every fan and it's time for everyone to jump on the bandwagon.
For everyone moaning about the selection committee's snub of the Maryland Terrapins, there is another home team to root for. (Maryland fans, there is a silver lining as Maryland earned a number one seed in the National Invitational Tournament.) The Georgetown Hoyas have been playing at an extraordinary level since they dethroned former number-one ranked, Duke. The ACC's lone number one seed was defeated by a number seven seed from the Big East. Georgetown has a great coach in John Thompson III and a great offense. They have been blessed with a big man, Roy Hibbert, who stands 7' 2" and is very capable of defending, scoring and passing. The Hoyas, it makes me sad to say, should be everyone's favorite home team and are likely to advance to the Sweet Sixteen as a sleeper.
Moreover, the two teams who had the strongest regular seasons are both in the Big East. Connecticut and Villanova have both earned number one seeds and are both capable of advancing very far in this tournament. Connecticut is my favorite to win it all because of the amazing talent on that roster and their coach, Jim Calhoun. Calhoun has shown his capability to win the title and did it just a few years ago with a team led by Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor.
This year once again, Connecticut might be losing several players to either the NBA or graduation. Sophomore Rudy Gay, one of the best players in the nation, might leave (a la Marvin Williams from North Carolina a year ago) if he wins a national championship. Gay is projected to be a high first round pick and already passed up on the NBA last year, when he probably would have been taken early. For guard-forwards Rashad Anderson and Denham Brown, both seniors, this is their last tournament and everyone wants a great finish. Also, the team has become much improved since they got their point guard, Marcus Williams, back from a 10 game suspension at the beginning of the season.
Villanova caught a huge break when their second-leading scorer, senior guard Allan Ray, was cleared earlier this week to participate in the tournament. Ray averages nearly 19 points per game and yet, is not even the Wildcats' leading scorer (Randy Foye). Foye is also a senior so expect this backcourt duo to have extra motivation to carry this team and contribute more than the 39 points per game they average.
West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Marquette and Seton Hall are all also dangerous teams. Seton Hall has been very streaky throughout the season and no one knows which side to expect during the tournament. Marquette is a newcomer to the tournament with a very young team. Their tempo and energy will be a very important factor in determining how long their run lasts. Pittsburgh is at times offensively challenged and can enter stretches without field goals, but this should not be a problem thanks to the defense they have to make up for it. West Virginia was the sleeper last season when they advanced farther than anyone expected. Behind the arc, the Mountaineers might be most dangerous team in college basketball. Every player can shoot the three ball, including 6'11" center Kevin Pittsnogle, a nightmare for every big man in the country.
While each of these teams is amazing, the Big East is the most dangerous conference because no one knows what to expect from each squad. The Syracuse Orange are the perfect example. Just before the Big East tournament, no one expected the Orange to make the tournament, let alone earn the number five seed. They finished the season with a losing record in the Big East, at 7-9. The team was ready to finish their season after the Big East tournament, but senior Gerry McNamara had other plans. He took over the conference tournament with his ability to make three pointers at the buzzer.
McNamara was part of the magic during Syracuse's run in 2003, as a freshman. Now, as a senior, McNamara will try to end his career at Syracuse the same way it began. If McNamara and the rest of the Orange played the way they did in the Big East tournament where they defeated Connecticut, Georgetown, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, they could be the hottest team and have a solid chance to win it all.
Adith Sekaran. Adith Sekaran is finally a senior at Blair. Adith is a man who is a big time sports fan and can spend any day to its' entirety watching sports or ESPN. Football season is his favorite, which he spends cheering on his ‘Skins to no … More »