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The Big East moves closer to their 11th bid


The Big East is getting closer and closer to locking up their 11th NCAA Tournament bid.

Last night, it was Cincinnati cementing a bid with a win at Georgetown. Tonight, it was Marquette going into the Hartford Civic Center and knocking off No. 14 UConn 74-67 in overtime to push the Golden Eagles a giant step closer to the NCAA Tournament.

Cincinnati is all but assured of a bit, barring three straight losses to close out the regular season and a first round exit in the Big East Tournament.

Marquette probably still has a bit of work left to do. They have a higher RPI than Cincinnati, they have a worse record against the RPI top 25 and top 50, and, frankly, the Golden Eagle’s 11 losses are a big number.

But they also have a much easier path. In addition to next week’s game between the two teams, Cincinnati has to play Georgetown and UConn while Marquette gets Providence and Seton Hall. If the Golden Eagles can knock off (read: avoid losing to) both the Pirates and the Friars, they should sleep pretty easy heading into Selection Sunday.

And as a result, what seemed like an unlikely best-case scenario a month ago just may become a reality.

Did you ever think you’d see nearly 70% of a conference as large as the Big East make the tournament?

Another team to keep an eye on is West Virginia. The Mountaineers lost to No. 4 Pitt tonight 71-58, dropping them to 17-10 overall and 8-7 in Big East. They have three tough games down the stretch -- at Rutgers (ask Villanova is that is a tough place to play), UConn, and No. 16 Louisville. They do have a number of impressive wins -- No. 18 Vanderbilt, at No. 11 Georgetown, No. 8 Purdue, No. 9 Notre Dame -- and six total against the RPI top 50, but is that enough if they end up 9-9 in the Big East and lose in the first round of the Big East Tournament?

Only time will tell.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.