Big East Tournament 2013 Bracket: Dark-Horse Teams Vying for Deep Run

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVMarch 11, 2013

SYRACUSE, NY - JANUARY 21: Sean Kilpatrick #23 of the Cincinnati Bearcats drives the ball down the court against Baye Moussa Keita #12 of the Syracuse Orange during the game at the Carrier Dome on January 21, 2013 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Nate Shron/Getty Images)
Nate Shron/Getty Images

It may be the last Big East tournament of its kind, but don't think that means the top teams are sure to dominate the action. 

It should be no surprise that the Big East has teams further down the seedings that could make a deep run. It has been, by far, the deepest conference in recent years and has proved to be that way again this season.

I'm not saying you should count out top-seeded Georgetown or second-seeded Louisville as favorites, but don't expect the bracket to fill out with only the best-seeded teams winning.

Let's take a look at dangerous teams who could make a deep run in the 2013 Big East tournament.


Cincinnati Bearcats

The Bearcats have looked, far and away, like a Top 25 team all season—except when they play against Big East foes. That recurring problem has put them on the bubble heading into the conference tourney.

Sean Kilpatrick and company started the season 12-0, but have a .500 record in 18 Big East games. That issue is largely overshadowed by their prowess on the boards, as the Bearcats top the conference in rebounding with more than 40 per game. 

That will bode well in an opening matchup against Providence, who rank near the bottom of the conference with a .414 field-goal percentage. 

They also have the Big East's fourth-leading scorer in Kilpatrick, who can light it up from three. We all know guard play goes a long way in tournament play, and Cincy will live and die with Kilpatrick's range and ability to score.


Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Just like Cincinnati, the Fighting Irish entered Big East play on a tear, having only one loss going into the conference slate. They cooled off a bit and earned the sixth seed, but that won't keep them from becoming a force in this week's tournament.

Notre Dame's ability to spread the ball around and not rely on one player will turn into success come tournament time. While many Big East teams rely on one player's dominance, the Irish can win even if an elite player has an off game. 

One may be worried that no Irish player averages more than 13 points per contest. But Jack Cooley, Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins all average more than 10 points per game. Cooley averages a double-double as well with 10.6 rebounds.

The Irish are the Big East's second-best shooting team, averaging .470 from the field on the season. That type of efficiency, combined with a top-five rank in overall scoring in the conference, makes them a dangerous team offensively.


Syracuse Orange

Any time 'Cuse doesn't earn one of the four double-byes in the Big East tournament, it's a major surprise. It also surely lights a fire under one of the nation's elite teams.

Regardless of their No. 17 ranking, the Orange have enough star power and skill to not only win this tournament, but make the Final Four.

But they're in this position for a reason. They have been known to struggle shooting for long periods and have very few legitimate three-point threats. Their 39 points against Georgetown Saturday was the lowest point total in the Jim Boeheim era. 

However, Syracuse has the leadership necessary to win this tournament and that goes a long way in the postseason. Their fundamentals are down pat, and they can control a game defensively. 

Even though they possess the No. 5 seed, Syracuse should be counted as one of the favorites to cut down the nets in Madison Square Garden.