Now that was what the Big East Tournament should be. Four games, three of them nailbiters. Not the prettiest basketball you ever saw but in the world of the Big East it never is. Everyone knew UConn had a chance to send Syracuse home. They almost did. The difference between UConn last year and this year is the fact that when the game was on the line Kemba Walker wanted the ball in his hands. This year Jeremy Lamb decided to become invisible. No movement. No attempt to take over the game. That’s why SU plays tonight and UConn is back in Storrs. Not many thought Cincinnati could derail the Georgetown express. They did, even after being down by double digits in the second half. Forcing an overtime, forcing a second overtime, Yancy to the rescue. The Hoyas are back in D.C. The Bearcats are next in line to try to stop the Orange tonight. And who thought that Louisville, the team that struggled to hit 50 on Wednesday would do it in a half against 2 seed Marquette. Not I. But they did, leading from the opening bell to the finish line and never letting the favored Golden Eagles get close enough to make a run. The nightcap was played at a turtle pace. Neither team could score consistently. But even after being down by 3 with seconds to go in regulation the Irish forced OT and then Eric Atkins hit his first three of the night to secure an exciting win over the USF Bulls. Finally, a day of typical Big East Tourney hoops. Overtimes, lock down defenses, play to the final buzzer. It was classic. Tonight we have the two Semis. Should be good games. Let’s take a quick look.
Syracuse – Cincinnati 7PM
Everyone seemed surprised when the seeds showed Cincinnati in the 4 slot. The question was…Shouldn’t Georgetown have been the 4 seed? The math said no, it was Cincy. Well yesterday they met. And the Bearcats came out on top after 2 OT’s. Now they get the prize of playing Syracuse in the early game. Cincy proved yesterday they belong in the Semis. They played SU tough in January losing by 7 at home. I’m sure they would rather be facing UConn who they beat on the road. But no, they draw the Orange. This is a great task for the Bearcats. I see SU to be too much for Cincy to deal with. Down low Gates is more skilled than Melo but the Syracuse guards are a level above UC’s. Triche, Jardine, Waiters and Southerland can all fill it up. They showed yesterday they can also lock down opposing stars. I see the posibility of a big win here for the Orange unless foul trouble intervenes. Waiters sat out a good portion of the first half yesterday but still almost scored 20 and Southerland found his touch with the long ball late when the game was in question. Look for the Orange to get by Cincinnati and move to the Finals Saturday night.
Notre Dame - Louisville 9:30PM
The Irish nipped Louisville 67-65 at the Yum Center in double overtime back on January 7th. That was light years ago. Louisville has taken care of Seton Hall in a low scoring game where they couldn’t get to 25 points at the half and then dispatched #2 seed Marquette last night when they just couldn’t miss. Their defense is smothering and they will lock down on ND’s outsdie scorers. Cooley had a tough time last night with only 1 rebound against USF. Gorgui Dieng will make life miserable for him down low. Unless Notre Dame regains their outside shooting touch they had earlier this year they may find it tougher to score tonight then they did last night. Kuric, Behanan and Siva look to be, on paper, so much better than Grant, Atkins and Connaughton. But everyone in the Big East is better than the Irish on paper. Mike Brey will struggle to keep this one close but I don’t think he will be successful. Unless Cooley can get Dieng in foul trouble very early it will be a long night for ND. Syracuse beat Louisville twice this year and ND is the only team to defeat the Orange. I see Louisville winning this one fairly easily and creating an interesting Final match vs. Syracuse.