March Madness: Championship Week Continues with Big East Tournament
Last night, four teams punched their way into the tournament. St. Peter’s upset Iona to get into the tournament. Gonzaga beat the regular season WCC champion St. Mary’s. Old Dominion held off VCU late in the game. And Wofford is a surprising NCAA Tournament-maker as well.
Of course, nobody expects any of those teams to do anything in the NCAA tournament this season. But for those four teams, the lives of their players have already been changed. For the rest of their existence on this earth, they will be able to say that they played in the NCAA Tournament as some of the best amateur basketball players in the country. It’s quite a feat, and it is always worth the celebratory two-step dance that follows the tournament-clinching victory.
As nice as it is to see those teams in the field, neither of them provided that wonderful March-moment last night. VCU almost did it. Had they been able to take that game over when they had the ball and were 1-point down with a few minutes to play, the victory would have come after being down 18 points in the second half. But alas, they couldn’t pull off the comeback, upset victory that has made March Madness one of the best periods there is in March.
We do, however, enter into some familiar territory today, and we do so at an arena that has been known to produce a dramatic moment or two.
The Big East Tournament gets under way today. The league with 16 teams and almost as many NCAA hopefuls has their first game at noon today, when UCONN faces off against DePaul. That game should be a blow out in favor of UCONN, but in this tournament, one can never be too sure. UCONN has Kemba Walker though and should come away with a win, but if he fails to be on point, this game could be up for grabs.
Then we have Seton Hall vs. Rutgers at 2pm. In case you don’t already know it, Seton Hall had one of the most lackluster off-seasons and seasons in the history of sports. We’re talking about a year full of suspensions, gun charges and dismissals, and that’s before a basketball even dropped. They belong on Broadway, and thus it is fitting that their tournament lives will depend on a strong showing in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Jeremey Hazell should be more than enough to get this team past Rutgers this afternoon.
Tonight we get some teams that are truly on that proverbial bubble. Villanova squares off against USF at 7pm, in a game that should determine whether or not Villanova is worth a damn. Sure, most people have them in the tournament already based on some of their big wins this season, however, it’s their losses to crap teams that have them in the position of being the 10th seed in the Big East. Another surprising loss to a bad team like USF might leave the Villanova Wildcats disappointed on Selection Sunday.
Lastly, Marquette will face off against Providence. This is the #11 vs. #14 seed in the Big East Tournament, but unlike what the seedings suggest, this game will not be a close one. Marquette’s Jimmy Butler is the best thing going on the court tonight, and Providence really has no answer. Besides, even though both teams are desperate, Marquette’s desperation is founded in reality. The only reality out there for Providence is a reality check, because they aren’t winning this game or getting into the NCAA Basketball Tournament either.
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