By Jon Harris
Syracuse cruised past Big East competition during the regular season, posting a 15-3 conference record. Will the Conference Tournament also go in the Orange’s favor?
Quarterfinals: Thursday, March 11
#1 Syracuse v. #8 Georgetown
These two rivals have already played each other twice this season with Syracuse collecting both wins. As tempting as it is for me to say that the third time is a charm for the Hoyas, the third time will just be another example of heartbreak for them. Despite this, the game will be very interesting as both Georgetown and Syracuse are one-half teams. Will they perform in opposite halfs or will we get 40 minutes of competitive basketball?
Prediction: Syracuse: 76 Georgetown: 67
#4 Villanova v. #12 Connecticut
Villanova is 2-4 in their last six games and have already lost to the Huskies this season by the count of 84-75. UConn is more talented, and the Wildcats are going straight downhill. Look for Connecticut to clean up on Villanova and improve its questionable tournament resume.
Prediction: Villanova: 71 Connecticut: 89
#2 Pittsburgh v. #10 Seton Hall
Another upset? No. The Pirates run ends here. The Panthers will prove too much and Seton Hall will be tired after playing their third game in three days. Pittsburgh has started to come on late this season, showing themselves to be a serious contender. Any evidence? Of course. They lost to Seton Hall in Jan., and blew them out in Feb. by 25 points. Hey look, they’re playing them again. No changes or surprises, Panthers win big.
Prediction: Pittsburgh: 77 Seton Hall: 58
#3 West Virginia v. #6 Louisville
Syracuse will be watching this game intently since they can’t find a way to beat the Cardinals. The Orange will get their wish too, as the Mountaineers will spoil Rick Pitino and his team’s chance at the Big East crown. Don’t worry Rick, you’re still the best-dressed head coach in college basketball.
Prediction: West Virginia: 68 Louisville: 64
Semifinals: Friday, March 12
#1 Syracuse v. #12 Connecticut
Very interesting. These two teams were mentioned with one another as the season started, with each of their head coaches racing each other in the wins column. On Feb. 10, Syracuse was way up on the Huskies, just to almost throw the game away at the end. Not to mention that last season, these two teams met in the semifinals with the Orange edging out Connecticut in the sixth overtime. Well, the Huskies get their revenge this year, and clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament with the win.
Prediction: Syracuse: 65 Connecticut: 73
#2 Pittsburgh v. #3 West Virginia
I’m big on Pittsburgh and don’t really like West Virginia at all. Just saying. I do, however, believe in Da’Sean Butler, who is an absolute animal. But the Mountaineers come up short. Don’t tell Bob Huggins that or he may just scream enough at his team to prove me wrong.
Prediction: Pittsburgh: 70 West Virginia: 51 (the same score West Virginia beat the Panthers by earlier in the year.)
Final: Saturday, March 13
#2 Pittsburgh v. #12 Connecticut
It’s the Huskies. They’ll win it for Jim Calhoun, who has had an indescribably atrocious year. Jerome Dyson will shoot the lights out and Kemba Walker will run the floor faster than Usain Bolt runs the 100 meter. No, I’m kidding, but Walker is crazy fast. So, Connecticut will earn the NCAA Tournament berth that seemed like it would elude them after the regular season ended with a loss to South Florida and Pittsburgh will walk away with a #2 seed for the Big Dance.
Prediction: Pittsburgh: 70 UConn: 73