Big East Tournament Handicapping Preview
The Big East in NCAA men’s basketball remains the most competitive conference in Division I as there are currently eight teams ranked in the top 25 in the latest Coaches Poll and three other teams; West Virginia, Cincinnati, and Marquette that still have a chance to earn a spot in this year’s NCAA Men’s Tournament field of 68 aka March Madness.
The following is a brief look at some of teams in the Big East along with their value in relation to their current odds to win a national title.
The No.5 Panthers (25-4, 13-3) are the highest ranked team in the Big East and still very much in line for a No.1 seed in the NCAA Tournament despite a 62-59 OT loss to No.11 Louisville on Sunday. Ashton Gibbs is Pitts’ leading scorer with 16.3 points a game and shooting an incredible 46.1 percent from three-point range. He is joined by Brad Wanamaker, who is averaging 12.3 points and a team-high 5.1 assists a game and Gilbert Brown, who is third in scoring with 11.1 points a game, to provide the bulk of the offense for this team. The Panthers are averaging 75 points a game and ranked seventh in the nation in rebounds with 41. This team offers a tremendous amount of value at +1200 to win it all this year especially if it can lock up a top seed.
The No.12 Orange survived a mid-season swoon where they lost six of eight games to put themselves back in the title picture with back-to-back wins over No.19 Villanova and No. 17 Georgetown. Syracuse (24-6, 11-6) remains deep in talent with the likes of Kris Joseph, Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine, and Brandon Triche. All four are scoring in double-figures with Jackson leading the team with 10.8 rebounds a game and Jardine leading in assists with 5.9. A strong showing in the conference tournament could set the stage for a deep run in the NCAA’s as this team has the capability of playing with anyone.
The ship may have already sailed on this team as the Wildcats (21-8, 9-7) have stumbled down the stretch with four losses in their last six games. Villanova has not beaten a ranked team since an 88-74 victory over No. 11 Louisville on Jan.12. They have two top-notch players in Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, but both seem to be wearing down a bit over the last month. The Wildcats close out the regular season with tonight’s game at No.7 Notre Dame and a season finale this Saturday at Pitt. Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in these two games as well as the Big East Tournament, there is no value in this pick.
The Cardinals are coming off an impressive 62-59 OT win over Pittsburgh on Sunday. They have now beaten three ranked teams in their last five games and could be peaking at just the right time. Louisville (22-7, 11-5) only has two players scoring in double-figures; Preston Knowles and Peyton Siva and it is ranked 117th in the nation in rebounds with an average of 36 a game. Despite this, the Cardinals have showed determination and heart this season and could be a good pick to pull off a couple of upsets come tournament-time.
Notre Dame +7500
If you are looking for a longshot to come out of the Big East, the No.7 Irish could be your team at +7500. Notre Dame (23-5, 12-4) is led by two extremely talented players in Ben Hanbrough and Tim Abromaitis. Hansbrough leads the team in scoring with 18 points a game and Abromaitis is adding 14.9 points while pulling down 6.3 rebounds per game. The Irish have won nine of their last 10 and are just one game behind Pittsburgh in the Big East standings. This remains a team to watch over the next few weeks especially if the enter the NCAA’s with a full head of steam.
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