Georgetown emerges as the favorite while Villanova and Cincinnati have work to do
March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Hereâs what to watch in the Big East.
BIG EAST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: March 12
Final: March 16 in New York (ESPN)
No. 12 Seton Hall vs. No. 13 USF (Tuesday)
No. 11 Rutgers vs. No. 14 DePaul (Tuesday)
No. 8 Providence vs. No. 9 Providence (Wednesday)
No. 5 Syracuse vs. Seton Hall/USF (Wednesday)
No. 7 Villanova vs. No. 10 St. Johnâs (Wednesday)
No. 6 Notre Dame vs. Rutgers/DePaul (Wednesday)
Byes to the quarterfinals:
No. 1 Georgetown
No. 2 Louisville
No. 3 Marquette
No. 4 Pittsburgh
Full Bracket: (.pdf)
Other conference tournament previews:
THE FAVORITE: Georgetown
The Hoyas, led by unanimous All-Big East first teamer Otto Porter, won 13 of their final 14 games â capped off Saturdayâs 61â39 win over rival Syracuse. Georgetownâs prowess on defense will make it hard to beat at Madison Square Garden. The Hoyas are also playing for a potential No. 1 seed if they can win their first Big East Tournament since 2007.
DARK HORSE: Villanova
Any team that can claim wins over Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette and Georgetown has to be considered a threat to win the BigâEast Tournament. A word of caution: Most of the Wildcatsâ impressive wins this season have come at home.
ATHLONâS PICK: Louisville
The Cardinals have recovered from their puzzling late-January three-game slide. Louisville won 10 of its last 11 games, with the only setback coming at NotreâDame in five overtimes. Gorgui Dieng averaged 11.2 points and 10.8 rebounds in Big East play compared to 6.8 and 6.7 before his injury.
Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)
NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
The Wildcats are awfully close to lock territory with the marquee wins this season. Losses to Columbia, Providence (twice) and Seton Hall earlier this season mean Villanova needs to avoid a loss to 10th-seeded St. Johnâs in the first round.
The Bearcats looked all but certain to be in the field to start February, but Cincinnati finished on a 3-6 slide. Cincinnati dodged a resume-killing loss to USF in the regular-season finale in overtime. Now the Bearcats have to prove they can defeat Providence. Through the Friars arenât an at-large candidate, they have defeated Cincinnati already this season in addition to beating Notre Dame and Villanova.