Monday, March 2, 2009

MSG Look-Ahead

Eight days until the greatest of the conference tournaments kicks off at Madison Square Garden, and some things are starting to take shape.

-UConn and Louisville have secured spots in the top four, meaning they get two days' worth of byes and won't have to play until Thursday's quarterfinals.

-Louisville can still get the No. 1 seed, somewhat realistically. The Cardinals have to win out (at home against Seton Hall and at West Virginia) and hope UConn loses its regular-season finale at Pitt on Saturday.

-Villanova can still catch Marquette and/or Pitt and get one of those top four spots, but they made life difficult with a silly loss to Georgetown on Saturday. Remember, they have the head-to-head tiebreaker on Pitt, if they end up tied with them.

-Providence has basically secured a "second-four" spot, meaning they'll get a bye to Wednesday's second round. This is an accomplishment of which Keno Davis should feel proud.

As of now, if the season ended today, this is the way the first three days of the Big East Tournament would lay out:

(9) Cincinnati vs. (16) DePaul, noon
(12 Georgetown vs. (13) St. John's, 2 pm
(10) Notre Dame vs. (15) Rutgers, 7 pm
(11) Seton Hall vs. (13) South Florida, 9 pm

(8) West Virginia vs. Cincinnati/DePaul winner, noon
(5) Villanova vs. Georgetown/St. John's winner, 2 pm
(7) Syracuse vs. Notre Dame/Rutgers winner, 7 pm
(6) Providence vs. Seton Hall/South Florida winner, 9 pm

(1) Connecticut vs. West Virginia/Cincinnati/DePaul, noon
(4) Marquette vs. Villanova/Georgetown/St. John's, 2 pm
(2) Louisville vs. Syracuse/Notre Dame/Rutgers, 7 pm
(3) Pitt vs. Providence/Seton Hall/South Florida, 9 pm

That could mean rematches of recent upsets (Providence/Pitt, Georgetown/Villanova right away. It could also mean that Louisville has major motivation to get that No. 1 seed, since right now the No. 1's draw looks more favorable than the No. 2's. Of course, by Thursday, whoever the top teams are playing will be playing for the third day in a row, so it's possible all four of them will just roll into the semis no matter who they play. We'll see. This format hasn't been tried before. Which is why it's so awesome.

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