Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday night in the Big East

Very much looking forward to this Marquette-Villanova game -- moreso after reading Villanova by the Numbers' as-always-outstanding preview. (My favorite part, by the way, may have been the "common opponents." Both of these teams played Houston Baptist? Why??)

I agree with VBTN's concluding thoughts -- that the inside presence of Dante Cunningham and Antonio Pena will be crucial on both ends of the floor. They'll need to be enough of a factor on offense to exploit their size advantage inside, and they'll need to be strong enough defensively to keep Marquette's guards from penetrating and keep them out on the perimeter, where they weren't real strong shooting the ball in their inexplicable loss to South Florida last week.

The game is big for both teams. Villanova is smoking hot and trying to make a late run for the conference title. Marquette is just now beginning the tough finishing part of its schedule, and it didn't close out the easy part very well. But assuming Lousville, Pitt and UConn will get three of the top four seeds in the conference tournament, that leaves only one more spot in that top four for either Marquette or Villanova. And being in that top four matters, folks, because the teams that are get TWO BYES and advance automatically to the Thursday quarterfinal games while the rest of the teams in the conference gouge out each other's eyes Tuesday and Wednesday.

Elsewhere tonight, we have Providence at South Florida -- obviously a must-win for Providence if it's going to position itself to get into the Dance by pulling some late-February upsets over the big boys. And Seton Hall visits DePaul, which is still looking for its first conference win. The Hall needs to beat the Paul to maintain its chances of moving into that "second four" which won't have to play on first day at the Garden.

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