Big East Tournament Bracket 2012: Predicting the Score of Each Game

Tyler Waddell@Tyler_WaddellCorrespondent IIMarch 6, 2012

Big East Tournament Bracket 2012: Predicting the Score of Each Game

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    Let the madness begin.

    It's the best time of the year in the college basketball world and the highly anticipated Big East Conference Tournament is set to start Tuesday, March 6 at Madison Square Garden.

    Syracuse, Marquette, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Georgetown and Louisville are all sure locks for this year's Big Dance.

    Connecticut and West Virginia will likely receive an invitation, but could use a security win. South Florida needs one more defining victory and could do so with a potential matchup against the Fighting Irish in the third round.

    For the remaining field, a tournament berth would require an unprecedented run to the championship game and to pop someone else's bubble with an improbable win.

    Check out my Big East bracket and score predictions as I break down each game.

First Round

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    No. 16 DePaul vs. No. 9 Connecticut

    DePaul has some young talent to look forward to, but its season is over. The Blue Demons lost their final nine of 10 games—including an 80-54 shellacking in Connecticut—while allowing an average of 80.6 points.

    UConn 76, DePaul 67

    No. 13 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 St. John's

    The Panthers have had a season to forget, that's for sure. After beginning the year ranked No. 10 in the nation, Pitt finished its campaign 16-15 with an abysmal 5-13 conference record. Luckily for coach Jamie Dixon, St. John's is an equal opponent—one that he beat by 20 on February 29.

    Pitt 71, St. John's 64

    No. 15 Providence vs. No. 10 Seton Hall

    The Pirates really blew their chance of having their name called on Selection Sunday after dropping three of four to end the regular season. Seton Hall lost to Cincinnati, Rutgers and was blown out to DePaul and will now have to rely on a deep run in the conference tournament to be able to try on dancing shoes.

    Hall 68, Providence 60

    No. 14 Villanova vs. No. 11 Rutgers

    Villanova doesn't own the record we're all used to, but the Wildcats are a young team with a bright future. They rebound the ball well (13th overall) and Maalik Wayns can score at will—two things Rutgers can't do.

    Villanova 80, Rutgers 67

Second Round

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    No. 9 Connecticut vs. No. 8 West Virginia

    This game could make or break both teams, although it could have more effect on the Mountaineers. In my opinion, both Connecticut and WVU are in no matter what. But then again, I'm not a member of the selection committee. I think this one comes down to coach Jim Calhoun's presence on the court and Jeremy Lamb, who had 25 points in their previous matchup (a 64-57 UConn win).

    UConn 73, WVU 72

    No. 13 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Georgetown

    I've said this once and I'll say it again: Georgetown is an inconsistent basketball team. On top of it, the Hoyas are just not reliable in postseason play. John Thompson III owns a 178-78 record, but has been knocked out of the first round in the NCAA tournament two years in a row. Pittsburgh has won the last five of six matchups versus Georgetown, dating back to 2008.

    Pitt 84, Georgetown 81 (OT)

    No. 10 Seton Hall vs. No. 7 Louisville

    Although Louisville lost its final four of six games to end the regular season, Rick Pitino should have his squad ready. The Cardinals held opponents to 60.7 points during this span and they'll have had four days of practice to get their offensive woes under control.

    Louisville 64, Hall 57

    No. 14 Villanova vs. No. 6 South Florida

    The Bulls are a poor scoring team and it shows: 59.5 points per game (325th overall) off 43.9 percent field-goal shooting (152nd overall). However, they seem to have Villanova's number after outscoring them 139-108 throughout the season (2-0). South Florida gets the win it needs here and earns its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1992.

    USF 55, Villanova 50


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    No. 9 Connecticut vs. No. 1 Syracuse

    Will we see another insane six-overtime performance by the Huskies and Orange? Probably not, but I expect a good game by these two power programs. However, I believe this is where Connecticut runs out of gas, while Syracuse just begins to rev up. 'Cuse wins its third game of the season versus UConn.

    Syracuse 78, UConn 70

    No. 13 Pittsburgh vs. No. 4 Cincinnati

    17. That's how many wins the Bearcats grabbed after their infamous brawl with Xavier back in December. Cincinnati has five victories over Top-25 opponents, including its most recent domination over then-No. 7 Marquette.

    Oh yeah, UC took care of Pitt earlier in the year, too.

    UC 68, Pitt 61

    No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 2 Marquette

    Over the last several weeks, Marquette senior forward Jae Crowder has proved to be a men among boys. He'll be the difference in this game, along with the fact that the Golden Eagle defense will force at least 15 turnovers.

    Marquette 85, Louisville 75

    No. 6 South Florida vs. No. 3 Notre Dame

    Notre Dame has won its last 10 of 12 games, earning its way to the Big East's No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. During this time, the Fighting Irish have outscored opponents by an average score of 65-58.

    In their earlier matchup, South Florida was held to 49 points off 1-13 (7.7 percent) from outside the arc. This outcome will be much similar as Notre Dame possesses the offensive edge needed to pull out a win.

    Notre Dame 62, USF 55


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    No. 4 Cincinnati vs. No. 1 Syracuse

    On January 23, Syracuse forced Cincinnati into taking a lot of bad shots and gave senior guard Dion Dixon (13.5 points per game) a lot of fits (2-10 FG, 5 PTS). The Bearcats shot just 21-of-61 (34.4 percent) from the field and 8-of-25 (32.0 percent) from the three-point line.

    If the Orange want to avoid an upset, they'll have to attack Cincy's guards again and create stress from the perimeter.

    Syracuse 73, UC 69

    No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Marquette

    The Irish took care of business at home when Marquette visited earlier in the year, pulling away big in the second half with a huge 76-59 win. However, Notre Dame has lost two of three and are struggling to put up points against quality teams.

    I don't think the Golden Eagles will let a repeat happen and I expect the sloppy play to be a thing of the past.

    Marquette 77, Notre Dame 68


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    No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 1 Syracuse

    I'm going to be short and sweet here, because everything we need to know about this potential matchup can be wrapped up with one explanation: January 7's box score.

    In Syracuse's 73-66 win over Marquette, the Orange made Darius Johnson-Odom uncomfortable (5-16 field-goal shooting, 2-9 from three-point land ) and forced 16 turnovers.

    The Golden Eagles made a huge push in the second half, putting up 46 points after failing to break the 20 mark in the first. However, Syracuse just proved to be the better team in the long run. The Orange aren't 30-1 for no reason.

    Syracuse 83, Marquette 80