Big East Tournament 2012: Cincinnati and Louisville's Biggest Playmakers

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08:  Yancy Gates #34 of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts after a play against the Georgetown Hoyas during the quarterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 8, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It's been quite a run for both Cincinnati and Louisville to the final of the Big East tournament.

The Bearcats had to knock off a one-loss Syracuse team in the semifinal, and the Cardinals managed to beat both Marquette and Notre Dame, the No. 2 and 3 seeds, respectively, by double digits.

When it comes to this time in the season, one player can often make a significant difference.

Here's four players to watch out for in the final:


Yancy Gates

Gates has put two good games together in the tournament.

Most fans remember the senior forward for his involvement in the fight at the end of the Xavier-Cincinnati game back in December.

However, Gates is erasing any lasting memories of that incident with a very good tournament.

In the double-overtime win against Georgetown, he was the leading scorer, shooting 10-of-19 for 23 points. Gates also added eight rebounds.

Then in the semifinal against the Orange, Gates was co-leading scorer with 18 points, also adding eight rebounds.

He has been a good rebounder all season, averaging 9.3 on the year, but the point totals from the tournament games are above his average of 12.5.


Sean Kilpatrick

Kilpatrick is the Bearcats' leading scorer, averaging 14.6 on the year. However, his Big East tournament hasn't been too distinguished yet.

He only scored 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting in the quarterfinal win against the Hoyas. However, Kilpatrick was the co-leading scorer with Gates in the win against Syracuse.

He was unstoppable from long range, as all the points against the Orange came from behind the three-point line, where he shot 6-for-9.

If Cincinnati is going to win the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, Kilpatrick will need to have a good performance.


Peyton Siva

When looking at reasons for the Cardinals run to the final, one should look no further than Siva.

He's managed to put in three very good performances, which culminated in the win over Notre Dame. Siva had 13 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.

In addition to his good game against the Fighting Irish, he had 14 and 18 points against Seton Hall and Marquette.

Siva only managed to score 9.1 points on the season, so his scoring outputs have been quite surprising.

It's players like Siva who step up and provide the kind of performances that win teams conference titles.


Gogui Dieng

Dieng's impact is felt mostly on the defensive end of the floor.

Although he did average 9.5 PPG, he was the leading blocker in the Big East, at 3.2 a game. Dieng also managed to pull down 9.2 RPG, which was good for fourth in the conference.

If Louisville is going to stop Gates, they're going to need Dieng to perform well.

He's had a pretty good tournament so far. He had 10 rebounds in the wins against Seton Hall and Marquette, but like Siva, Dieng saved his best performance for Notre Dame.

In the semifinal, he had 16 points, six rebounds and one block.