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We're nearly at the end at the end of the 2011 Big East season (which let's all be honest, feels like the 13th round of a title fight with a young Mike Tyson - it's been brutal). So to celebrate this monumental occasion, we're going to take a look at the Big East's prospects for a record-setting year in terms of NCAA Tournament berths.
Just a week ago, it was thought that the BEAST could possibly get 11 teams into the dance this year. Now? Well, maybe not so much, but with a few games left to be played, as well as the conference tournament, it's not impossible.
Who's in? Who's out? Who still has work to do? Here we go!
The breakdown, after The Jump.
These teams can kick back and relax - you've earned your spot.
Pittsburgh Panthers - The best team in the league, and a team that deserves a #1 seed for doing what they did in this conference. No questions asked.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Quite the surprising year for Mike Brey's men. I certainly didn't see it coming, and had no idea Ben Hansbrough was this good. I don't think they will do much in the dance (as always) but when they are shooting it well, watch out.
Georgetown Hoyas - Chris Wright apparently broke his left hand in last night's loss to Cincy, which will CRIPPLE this team. I dont' know what exactly to make of them yet, or how long Wright will be out, but without him they are in serious trouble.
Villanova Wildcats - Despite the late-season swoon, the 'Cats have done more than enough this year to earn a bid. Actually doing something with that bid is a completely different story. They need to regroup now.
Louisville Cardinals - A team that seems to have flown under the radar a bit this year - they just win and you don't notice them too much. Peyton Siva is a guy that is more than likely going to wreak havoc in March.
Syracuse Orange - There was no doubt they were ever going to be dancing, but getting that road win at 'Nova will definitely help their seeding. Their zone always gives teams fits in the tourney.
St. John's Red Storm - We had them marked down as the surprise team of the year, and they didn't disappoint. They've gone from a doormat to a quality win if you're lucky enough to escape them. They've scalped Pitt and Duke this year, amongst others.
Connecticut Huskies - The Fighting Kemba's are a nightmare. You know Kemba Walker is the guy to stop, but you still can't really do it. And throw in the emergence of Jeremy Lamb and this is a team that could make some noise if they get to the 2nd weekend.
West Virginia Mountaineers - The win over ND last week sewed up a bid for the hill people. Bob Huggins is still a good coach and Casey Mitchell seems to be fully back into the squad. He and Kevin Jones are a great 1-2 punch. Not sure how they'll fare in March but they have as much size as anyone, it's just the guard play that struggles.
Cincinnati Bearcats - Yep, the Big East will get 10. They had a HUGE road win at Georgetown last night, the kind they've been looking for after a pedestrian OOC schedule. They could still probably get a couple more W's to feel safe on Selection Sunday, but I think they're in.
WORK TO DO:
Marquette Golden Eagles - It's a shame too. These guys have such hard luck every year. They NEVER get blown out, but they always have trouble closing out games. They are at UConn tonight, a game they really need to have if they want to get off the bubble. After that it's Seton Hall, Providence and Cincinnati to close the year. They need to win out and probably take at least 2 games in NYC to feel safe.
I can't justify each team getting their own blurb here. Let's just say this - when your best player scores 52 points and you STILL LOSE, things are not looking good for you. Then again, there was some chatter on the Big East Coaches Conference call today that Marshon Brooks deserves love for Player of the Year. I actually agree.
So what does everyone think? How many teams from the Big East will go dancing this year? What seed line will each fall on? What does Villanova have to do down the stretch to get back to the 3/4 seed line?
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