Big East Tournament: Top Teams Start Play Against Upset Hopefuls

Sam BlumCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2010

WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 18:  Greg Monroe #10 of the Georgetown Hoyas takes a shot over Wesley Johnson #4 of the Syracuse Orange during a college basketball game on February 18, 2010 at the Verizon Center in Washington DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Thursday marks the start of what most people would call the "real" Big East Tournament. Up to now there have been eight games, and seven of the eight teams to play on the first day have been eliminated.

So, in a sense, those people might be right.

That being said, we have seen some great basketball the first two days.

A near 29-point, second half comeback from Providence.

A St. John's second half revival.

A Cincinnati upset over a red-hot Louisville team.

And of course a resurgent Luke Harangody for a Notre Dame team that played well without him.

However, now come the big guns. Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Villanova will all tip off after starting with a double bye. All of those teams are in the top 25, and yes, all of them have a challenge in the quarterfinals.

Syracuse vs. Georgetown (Noon):

This matchup just sounds like it will be a classic. It would work better as a night game, but unfortunately it will take place in front of a slimmer day crowd. Syracuse may be ranked third, but they are probably the best team in the country. They have an amazing zone defense, one that has been able to beat Georgetown twice. Georgetown is coming in after winning two straight (both blowouts).

However, this game might be different. 

FINAL SCORE: Syracuse 72, Georgetown 65

Villanova vs. Marquette (2:30 pm): 

This is one of the better matchups of the quarterfinals. Scottie Reynolds will look to lead his team into the semifinals, as they have struggled lately and need to win two games to find themselves as a two seed. If they somehow do manage to win it all, then they might be a one seed. Marquette has the ability to win close games, or at least make games close, and that is exactly what they'll do this afternoon.

FINAL SCORE: Villanova 68, Marquette 65

Pittsburgh vs. Notre Dame: 

This is the best matchup of the quarterfinals. Two red-hot teams with finals potential facing off, with implications that could effect their NCAA Tourney standing. Notre Dame is off the bubble, and Luke Harangody is back and better than ever after his 20 point, 10 rebound showing against a lowly Seton Hall team. Pitt, on the other hand, somehow made their way to a two seed against all odds.

It is so hard to pick this matchup, but...

FINAL SCORE: Pittsburgh 82, Notre Dame 78

West Virginia vs. Cincinnati:

Just like last night, Cincy will be the crowd favorite. They are the only team remaining from the Tuesday schedule, and are sporting the 11 seed. The Bearcats are the only team who has not clinched themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament, so they will need to win tonight, and to be safe, beat Pittsburgh/Notre Dame tomorrow to have a shot at the big dance.

West Virginia is a great team, and they will obviously have the advantage. However, this is March Madness, and anything can happen.

FINAL SCORE: West Virginia 82, Cincinnati 71