Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Big East Conference Tournament Preview

The Big East was the strongest conference in the country throughout the season. Boston College and Connecticut split the title, with both teams going in opposite directions. BC lost three of their last six, while UConn won nine in a row. Syracuse, Pitt, and Villanova also threatened at some point during the year.
Boston College has the #1 seed, but they are not expected to win. The Connecticut Huskies have the best mix of perimeter and post talent, in addition to experience. Charlie Villanueva and Josh Boone lead a deep frontcourt, while Marcus Williams has developed into the conference's top point guard. Rashad Anderson returned from injury, but he is not going to play much in the conference tourney. BC is sliding lately, but they still have a great one-two punch in the frontcourt in Jared Dudley and Craig Smith, two all-conference performers. If they can get more consistent guard play from Louis Hinnant and Sean Marshall, the Eagles could make a run at the title. Syracuse is always a threat, especially when they own the best inside-outside combo in the conference in Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick, two all-Big East stars. Josh Pace is a solid third option. Villanova might have the best group of guards in the conference, with Allan Ray and Randy Foye leading the way. In addition, Curtis Sumpter is a tough match-up for most power forwards. The Wildcats have won six in a row. Notre Dame is on a bit of a skid recently, but they played basically every conference team within single digits. With their shooting from the perimeter in Chris Thomas, Colin Falls, and Chris Quinn, the Irish can get hot and run the table. Pitt is on a roll after they struggled two weeks ago. Carl Krauser and Chevy Troutman lead an experienced group of Panthers that have made the conference championship three years in a row. Georgetown has fell off lately after a great season. Jeff Green and Brandon Bowman need to right the ship for the Hoyas if they want an at-large bid. West Virginia can be a sleeper if they hit threes the way they did during the non-conference season. Kevin Pittsnoggle is a nightmare to match-up with.
Prediction: With their recent great run, Connecticut looks like the team to beat in New York. Freshman Rudy Gay is developing into a star, and the Huskies' frontcourt is too much for most teams to handle. Villanova is going to make a run to the championship game, but won't have the inside depth to match-up with Boone, Villanueva, Hilton Armstrong, Ed Nelson, etc.

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