Another critical Saturday of hoops action in the Big East conference is under way today with several teams needing wins to finish strong so to not leave any doubt in the selection committee’s mind as to whether they deserve to be in or not. As the Saturday’s left in the season begin to dwindle, the importance of these games is ratcheted up. The teams squarely on the proverbial bubble are Georgetown, Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Providence.
So let’s analyze how they did today and what that means for them going forward…
L vs. Marquette, 78-72
A disappointing loss for the Hoyas as they got outplayed over the final six or seven minutes by Marquette in a game that they controlled much of the way. In my opinion, Georgetown struggled once again with something that has been their problem much of the year and that is too much passing. The players like Monroe, Summers and Wright at times are TOO unselfish. I hate watching Monroe stand out on the perimeter catching a pass then handing it back off and setting a screen with his back to the basket the entire time. Get the ball to him inside! How hard is it? Take the shots that you have good looks at! Don’t pass it up.
The loss leaves the Hoyas facing a final four game stretch in which they need to go 3-1 against the likes of Louisville, @ Villanova, @ St. John’s and DePaul. Guessing that they fall in a tough game to Louisville, the Hoyas are going to need to go into Philadelphia and beat the Wildcats. And they definitely can do that.
Prediction: Hoyas go 3-1 and get a conference tournament win to finish the season 18-13. With an RPI in the top 30 and a strength of schedule of 3 and big wins over UConn, Memphis and Syracuse? this team is in as a 12 seed.
W, @ Providence 103-84
Absolutely HUGE win for the Irish, going on the road to beat a team like the Friars who are no push over. Providence in my eye, is head and shoulders above teams like BYU and Utah in the Mountain West conference who many pundits have comfortably in the tournament at this moment in time.
The Irish have now gone 3-1 in their past four games with a huge win over Louisville. Duplicating that over their final four game stretch with games against Rutgers, @ Connecticut, Villanova and St. John’s is crucial.
Prediction: I believe that the Irish will get it done, plus win at least one conference tournament game to finish the season 19-13 and make the tournament as a 10 or 11 seed.
L, vs. Louisville 72-63
Certainly a difficult loss for the Bearcats to endure when they played close with the Cardinals for the entire first half and much of the second. The win would’ve put them on the other side of the bubble but with the loss, Cincinnati just has a bit more work to do.
Their stretch run includes West Virginia, @ Syracuse, @ South Florida and Seton Hall. They win out to finish 21-10, 11-7 and this team is in without a doubt. Even a 20-11, 10-8 finish in the regular season gets them in. Tournament wins would just be a bonus to help their seed.
Prediction: The Bearcats go 4-0 and add a tournament win to finish 22-11 and head to the tournament as a 9 or 10 seed.
L, vs. Notre Dame 103-84
A tough pill to swallow for Providence, losing at home to Notre Dame, a team that it was fighting right alongside of in the conference for an at large bid. Losing five of their past seven also doesn’t help a team that really doesn’t have any marquee wins besides sweeping Cincinnati and beating Syracuse.
With three games left it doesn’t get any easier for the Friars with Pittsburgh, @ Rutgers and@ Villanova. Nothing short of 3-0 and a conference tournament win to prove it no fluke will get them into the big dance.
Prediction: Friars go 1-2 with win over Rutgers and fall in lone conference tournament game.