2010 NCAA Tournament Preview: Big East



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  1. Georgetown (23-10)

    WHY TO LOVE: Georgetown has another big man. Sophomore Greg Monroe (6-11, 247) averages 16.0 ppg and 9.6 rpg. His presence really opens up easy jumpers for junior Austin Freeman (17.3 ppg, 47.9% 3PT) and sophomore Jason Clark (10.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 42.2% 3PT).

    Junior Chris Wright is a very capable point guard; he averages 14.2 ppg and 4.0 apg. He can hit the outside shot as well, but not nearly as well as Freeman or Clark (33.3%).

    The Hoyas can win tough road games. They went into two hostile environments (Pittsburgh and Louisville) and came away with victories of eight and 10.

    WHY TO HATE: Monroe is talented, but he’s been accused of being too passive at times. As a mere sophomore, will he be aggressive enough to take over a game if his team needs him to? He was great in the Big East Tournament, so this was a positive sign.

    Freeman, the team’s leading scorer, was recently diagnosed with diabetes. However, he played really well in the Big East Tournament. It seems like that situation will be a non-factor in terms of Georgetown’s NCAA Tournament run.

    None of Georgetown’s starters are seniors.

    The Hoyas are not a deep team. If they get into foul trouble, they will struggle.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: The Hoyas are really coming on. Though they don’t have senior leadership, they’re more than capable of making it to at least the Sweet 16.



  2. Louisville (20-12)

    WHY TO LOVE: The Cardinals have two very good players in sophomore forward Samaro Samuels (15.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and senior point guard Edger Sosa (12.8 ppg, 4.6 apg).

    Louisville has some big wins this year, including two over No. 1 seed Syracuse.

    Three of Louisville’s top six scorers are seniors. One is a junior. None are freshmen.

    WHY TO HATE: Louisville shoots only 33 percent from three as a whole. Two players Jared Swopshire (32.3%) and Preston Knowles (30.0) are poor shooters, yet take way too many attempts from beyond the arc.

    The Cardinals won at Syracuse, but that’s their only road win against an NCAA Tournament team. Louisville was just 4-7 in away games this year. That means they violate Rule No. 4 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    THE VERDICT: This is not one of Rick Pitino’s best teams, but it’s hard to imagine Louisville going out in the first round. A second-round exit is most likely.

  3. Marquette (22-11)

    WHY TO LOVE: Marquette can beat anyone. They’re so dangerous from long distance; in fact, as a team, the Golden Eagles hit 40 percent of their threes. They are paced by Darius Johnson-Odom (47.5%), Maurice Acker (46.7) and David Cubillan (37.3).

    Of Marquette’s top six scorers, three are seniors. This includes forward Lazar Hayward (18.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and 5-8 point guard Maurice Acker (8.4 ppg, 3.7 apg).

    The Golden Eagles are hot. Entering the Big East Tournament, they were 9-2 since the end of January.

    WHY TO HATE: While Marquette can beat anyone, they can also lose to anyone. They rely on the long jumper, so if they go cold, they can get knocked out of the first round.

    The Golden Eagles are 5-5 on the road. However, none of their away victories came against a team in the NCAA Tournament.

    THE VERDICT: If Marquette hits its threes, it could be playing well into the second weekend. If Marquette is cold from outside, it could lose in the first round. I would not bet on a Sweet 16 appearance.



  4. Notre Dame (23-11)

    WHY TO LOVE: The Irish have two dynamic scorers. Senior 6-8 forward Luke Harangody (23.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg) missed five games recently, but is back in the lineup and playing well. Junior forward Tim Abromaitis (17.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg) shoots 44.9 percent from long range. They’re joined by Ben “Psycho B” Hansbrough, brother of famous ex-North Carolina center Tyler.

    All seven of Notre Dame’s top scorers are upperclassmen.

    The Irish shoot a lot of threes, but they make them (39.8%). Abromaitis (44.9), Pyscho B (41.7), Carleton Scott (37.2), Jonathan “Made Out Of” Peoples (40.0) and Tory Jackson (35.2) are all excellent from deep.

    WHY TO HATE: Two NCAA Tournament Credo violations:

    No. 3: Mike Brey’s record in the NCAA Tournament is just 5-5, and he’s been past the second round only once.

    No. 4: Notre Dame was 3-6 on the road this year, though they did beat Marquette and Georgetown outside of South Bend.

    THE VERDICT: Notre Dame is playing well right now. They could win a game, but getting out of the first weekend will be difficult.

  5. Pittsburgh (24-8)

    WHY TO LOVE: Pittsburgh has four double-digit scorers, led by sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs (16.2 ppg, 1.9 apg). Gibbs is the only underclassman of the group.

    The Panthers have three excellent three-point shooters in Gibbs (40.4%), Gilbert Brown (37.2) and Brad Wanamaker (36.4). Wanamaker is a very good junior point guard.

    This team is hot, entering the Big East Tournament on an 8-1 run.

    Pittsburgh is 6-4 on the road, which includes impressive victories at Syracuse and Marquette.

    WHY TO HATE: Pittsburgh violates Rule No. 3 of my NCAA Tournament Credo. The team has a dubious history of getting upset early in the Big Dance. In 2005, the Panthers lost in the first round to Pacific. In 2006, they lost in the second round as a No. 5 seed to No. 13 Bradley. A year later, Pittsburgh struggled against Virginia Commonwealth before losing to UCLA in the Sweet 16. In 2008, the team went down to Michigan State in the second round. And last year, the Panthers were upset in the Elite Eight as one of the favorites to win the NCAA Tournament.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: Many brackets will have Pittsburgh playing into the second weekend. I wouldn’t bet on it. A first- or second-round exit is very likely.



  6. Syracuse (28-4)

    WHY TO LOVE: This Syracuse team seems to have it all:

    – They have five double-digit scorers.

    – They have experience (four of those five players are upperclassmen).

    – They can hit from long range, nailing threes at a 38-percent clip as a team. Wes Johnson (38.1%), Andy Rautins (39.4), Brandon Triche (39.7) and Mookie Jones (46.3) are all lethal from deep.

    – They have a coach who knows how to win in March.

    – They were 8-1 on the road this year, losing only at Louisville. They won at Georgetown, Notre Dame and West Virginia.

    – Fulfills all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    WHY TO HATE: Center Arinze Onuaku injured his knee/hamstring in the Big East Tournament opener. It looks like he’ll be able to play in the NCAA Tournament, but will he be 100 percent?

    THE VERDICT: Assuming Onuaku is OK, Syracuse should be able to make it to the Final Four. I won’t have them winning the championship, but they certainly can.

  7. Villanova (24-7)

    WHY TO LOVE: Save for Dante Cunningham, this is the same team that went to the Final Four last year, so you know that they’re capable of making a deep run. The Wildcats are led by senior guard Scottie Reynolds (18.8 ppg, 3.4 apg), who has hit huge shots in the Big Dance before. The top four scorers are upperclassmen.

    Villanova is dangerous from outside, hitting 37.2 percent as a team. Four guys are better than 35 percent from deep: Reynolds (39.9%), Corey Fisher (38.9), Corey Stokes (35.5) and Taylor King (36.2).

    Impressive road wins include West Virginia, Maryland, Marquette and Louisville.

    WHY TO HATE: The Wildcats don’t have great size, but that didn’t hurt them last year. Besides, guard play wins in March.

    Villanova limped its way to the finish line; entering the Big East Tournament, the Wildcats concluded the year with a 2-4 slump. Losing to Marquette in the tournament opener didn’t help.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: I’ll be shocked if Villanova doesn’t make it into the second weekend. Another trip to the Elite Eight could definitely happen.

  8. West Virginia (27-6)

    WHY TO LOVE: West Virginia is a hot team. They marched through the Big East Tournament, knocking off Notre Dame and Georgetown. They also won at Villanova earlier this month.

    Da’Sean Butler is a great player who has proved repeatedly that he can hit big shots in the clutch. Butler is a 6-7 senior forward who averaged 17.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg and 3.3 apg.

    Two other double-digit scorers: sophomore forwards Kevin Jones (13.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Devin Ebanks (11.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg).

    WHY TO HATE: Five things – the most important being Bob Huggins’ dubious NCAA Tournament track record. Since 1997, here’s what happened whenever Huggins took a 25-plus win team into the NCAA Tournament: 2nd Round, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, Sweet 16, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, 2nd Round, Sweet 16. Huggins’ NCAA Tournament record since 1997 is a mediocre 11-11. Thus, West Virginia violates Rule No. 3 of my NCAA Tournament Credo.

    Inexperience: Three of the Mountaineers’ top four scorers, including the point guard, are sophomores.

    West Virginia isn’t a deep team. Foul trouble could kill them.

    The Mountaineers don’t shoot particularly well; they hit 43.4 percent from the field and 33.6 percent from long distance.

    Doesn’t fulfill all five requisites in the Portrait of a Champion (returning head coach, scored 76 ppg, 10+ margin of victory, in the tournament last year, seeded 1-4).

    THE VERDICT: There will be tons of people picking West Virginia to advance to the Elite Eight or even the Final Four. Don’t fall into that trap. Don’t trust Bob Huggins. I won’t have his team making it past the Sweet 16.



2011 NCAA Tournament Picks:
Sweet 16 Redo | East | West | Southwest | Southeast | Final Four | Winning Tips | 2011 NCAA Tournament Home
2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket Breakdowns:
West | East | Southwest | Southeast | Final Four | Schedule
2011 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Breakdowns:
West | Southeast |
2011 NCAA Tournament Preview:
ACC | Atlantic 10 | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Mid-Majors | Mountain West | Pac 10 | SEC



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