The 2010 Big East Tournament promises to be an eventful one, with 16 teams battling it out to improve their seed or perhaps play their way into the NCAA Tournament. It will last from March 9-13 and be played at Madison Square Garden in New York.
FIRST ROUND PREDICTIONS
USF(9) def. DePaul(16) – Dominique Jones will be the deciding factor in this game.
UConn(12) def. St. Johns(13) – UConn is a NCAA tournament regular and they are currently on the bubble, but I do not see them going out this easily.
Providence(15) def. Seton Hall(10) – Their performance at Pitt that ended the regular season gives me reason to believe they will not suffer another close loss and will sneak a win in.
Cincinnati(11) def. Rutgers(14) – Rutgers was blown out in their last game of the season and will come into this game with no confidence. Cincinnati needs to play their way back on the bubble and will have a sense of urgency to win.
Georgetown(8) def. USF(9) – Dominique Jones will not be enough to beat the Hoyas. The later on you get in the tournament, the more you need to rely on team play instead of one player.
UConn(12) def. Marquette(5) – The 3-point shooting Marquette Golden Eagles will have to beat the determination of the Huskies who are gunning to get off of the bubble. I don’t think Marquette has it in them.
Notre Dame(7) def. Providence(15) – Providence’s mini run will end here. With Harangody back for Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish are just too strong of a team to let this one go.
Louisville(6) def. Cincinnati(11) – Coming off of a win against top-seeded Syracuse in the last game at Freedom Hall, Louisville will be a team to watch in this tournament. They could end up surprising people and end up in the semifinals.
Syracuse(1) def. Georgetown(8) – Syracuse may have been exposed by Louisville, but a first game exit for the Orange seems highly unlikely.
Villanova(4) def. UConn(12) – UConn’s magical run will end here in the third round, but with their two victories in the tournament, they will be dancing. Villanova will end up turning the ship around in this game.
Pitt(2) def. Notre Dame(7) – This game really is a toss up. The Panthers lost the last time these two teams faced each other, with Notre Dame not even having their star player in the game. With Luke Harangody back, Pitt will have trouble. However, I think that Pitt can squeeze one win out of this tournament.
West Virginia(3) def. Louisville(6) – West Virginia looks like the strongest team in the Big East as of late, and despite Louisville’s great feeling coming into the tournament, they don’t have enough to match the size and athleticism of WVU.
Syracuse(1) def. Villanova(4) – Syracuse will have the home crowd on their side and will rebound from their loss at the end of the season.
WVU(3) def. Pitt(2) – In the regular season these two split the series. WVU has the stronger team though, and will pull this one out.
WVU(3) def. Syracuse(1) – West Virginia will be looking to exact revenge from the Orange who beat them in the regular season. I think they will get it and could possibly earn themselves a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Player of the Year- Luke Harangody (Notre Dame)
Harangody lead the league in points per game and finished third in rebounds.
Defensive Player of the Year- Hamady Ndiaye (Rutgers)
The award goes to Ndiaye on the lone fact that he averaged twice the amount of blocks per game than Gavin Edwards, who was second in the league.
Coach of the Year- Jamie Dixon (Pitt)
It was almost a photo finish between Jamie Dixon and Jim Boeheim, but the Syracuse defeat at the end of the season will remove their #1 rank and give the edge to Dixon. The job that Dixon has done is nothing short of remarkable. Pitt lost three starters, two of which went to the NBA, and was predicted to finish ninth in the Big East. With Pitt being set up for a lackluster year, Dixon coached the team to a Top 20 ranking and second place in the Big East.
Most Improved Player- Ashton Gibbs (Pitt)
The Pitt guard went from averaging 4.2 to 16.2 points per game. The time spent with the Under-18 American team made him a sharpshooter in the 2009-10 season, averaging 40% from behind the arch. He also posted an impressive free throw percentage of 89%.
Teams that WILL get a bid to the NCAA Tournament: WVU (automatic bid), Syracuse, Pitt, Villanova, Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame, Georgetown, UConn