How will the Big East and its nine teams fare?
There seem to be vehement defenders on both sides of the argument. Some say the Big East is deserving of the nine bids it received this year. Some are quick to call it the most overrated conference in the nation.
Detractors approve of the committee’s denial of Seton Hall, though may not be so overjoyed about South Florida’s admittance. Some even went as far as to say Connecticut didn’t deserve a spot.
What’s the verdict? CollegeBasketballTalk breaks down what some Big East teams are looking at in the NCAA tournament:
Best Chance to End Up in New Orleans: No. 1 Syracuse
The Orange are ranked second in the nation and, despite losing in the Big East tournament to Cincinnati, you can’t deny what they bring to the table.
With their lethal transition attack and a future NBA lottery pick in Dion Waiters, Syracuse could make its way through the East region and make it to the Final Four. The biggest obstacle I see is Vanderbilt.
Just as Vanderbilt beat an athletic Kentucky team to win the SEC title, the Commodores could shoot well from the outside and Festus Ezeli could be the same type of inside presence as Yancy Gates, who powered Cincinnati to an upset over Syracuse in the Big East tournament.
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Toughest First Matchup: No. 9 Connecticut vs. No. 8 Iowa State
The Huskies had the toughest schedule in the nation this season, so it seems only right that they would draw a tough Iowa State team in the Round of 64.
With multi-talented Royce White running the show for the Cyclones and capable shooters from the outside, the Huskies won’t be able to relax on the defensive end.
The winner will most likely have a matchup with No. 1 Kentucky.
Most Likely to Get Upset: No. 3 Georgetown vs. No. 14 Belmont
Belmont is a high-scoring dark horse out of the Atlantic Sun Conference that, if they get in a shootout with Georgetown, could send the Hoyas home early.
The Bruins move the ball well and are in the top five in the country in assists per game and in the top thirty in field goal percentage. Kerron Johnson is a name to watch for Belmont.
Team That Barely Snuck In But Has Something To Prove: No. 12 South Florida
Analysts debated whether South Florida should get in, but they now find themselves in a First Four game against Pac 12 opponent California.
Coach Stan Heath said during the Big East tournament that he loves his team’s grinding, slow pace where no one player is averaging double figures in scoring.
If South Florida is able to beat Cal, they will meet Temple in the Round of 64. The Bulls have been written off so far because of their perceived lack of strength in scheduling, but this NCAA tournament will give them a chance to prove critics wrong.