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Predicting an All-Big-East Final Four

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 21:  Dash Harris #5 of the Texas A&M Aggies shoots against Hasheem Thabeet #34 of the Connecticut Huskies during the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Wachovia Center on March 21, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Kevin TrahanAnalyst IMarch 22, 2009

As made clear by its immense amount of high-seeded teams, the Big East is by far the best conference in college basketball. The conference boasts three No. 1 seeds, two No. 3 seeds, and two No. 6 seeds, with only a No. 6 seed out.

What makes these teams so tough is their physical style of play. It is nearly impossible for any team to get inside on a Big East opponent and they are forced to resort to perimeter shooting. While three-pointers kept some teams in the game for a little while, they soon faded away because three-pointers alone can't win games.

The Big East has four Final Four quality teams; Louisville, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse. All are physically tough, but can also balance that out with perimeter shooting.

Some have an easy road to the Final Four, while others will have to work for it, but if they play Big East basketball, all will advance to the final coveted four spots in the NCAA Tournament.

Louisville has a fairly easy road ahead of them until the Final Four. While Siena will be a test, perhaps their biggest test until the Final Four, the Cardinals should run by the Saints because of their physical play down low, something the Buckeyes didn't do.

The final test will come against either Kansas or Michigan State. Kansas knows what they're getting into, having already lost to a Big East team (Syracuse) this year, and Michigan State, not having played a Big East team, has no idea.

While anything can happen in March Madness, this looks like a very favorable matchup for Louisville.

Connecticut has by far the easiest road to the Final Four. The most likely scenario; a blasting of Purdue and then an easy win over Memphis. While Memphis is no pushover, they don't have the big inside presence they did last year, which would have been very helpful against Hasheem Thabeet and company.

A.J. Price will lead the Huskies' perimeter attack and it looks to be another tune-up game for UCONN.

Pittsburgh doesn't have the easiest run to the Final Four, but it is also very doable. Getting to the Elite Eight shouldn't pose a problem, but there will most likely be a hungry Duke team waiting there when they do.

That is, if Duke gets past Villanova. While Duke is a good team, the Wildcats probably pose more of a problem to Pitt than the Blue Devils. While Pitt has the size to beat Duke and 'Nova, they have had trouble against the Wildcats, losing their only meeting this season.

Villanova has tough perimeter shooting, as does Duke, but DeJuan Blair and Jermaine Dixon will lead a balanced attack that should place the Panthers in the Final Four.

Syracuse has the toughest road to the Final Four by far. Assuming they get past Arizona State today, they will most likely have to face Oklahoma and North Carolina to get there.

The main problem in the Oklahoma game would be Blake Griffin. He is a tall, physical forward that poses problems for any team. The only problem is that he has never seen a frontcourt as good as Syracuse's in the Big 12.

Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson should be able to keep him somewhat in check and go on to face the Tar Heels in the Elite Eight. The same will happen against North Carolina, except for the fact that the Tar Heels have a better perimeter game.

Onuaku and Jackson will give Tyler Hansbrough the toughest test he has seen all year while Paul Harris, Eric Devendorf, and Johnny Flynn will challenge Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. In the end, I see the Orange emerging from a very hard fought game.

While there are many roadblocks, an all Big East Final Four isn't out of the picture. The physical style of play and balanced perimeter shooting of these four teams will make them tough to beat this March.

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