NCAA Tournament: Four Big East Teams With Best Shot at The Final Four

Chris CarsonContributor IFebruary 23, 2011

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 08:  Ben Hansbrough #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irishplays defense during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats in the 2010 DIRECTV SEC/BIG EAST Invitational at Freedom Hall on December 8, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Big East is, without a doubt, the deepest conference in college basketball.  They've got eight teams ranked in the top 25 and and eight teams with 20 or more wins.

Right now, the Big East has nine teams with a chance of being invited to the NCAA Tournament.

If they get in, the Big East would break its own record of six teams invited to the dance in 2006 and 2008.

Out of the possible Big East teams with a chance in, here are four with a chance at the Final Four...



After missing three games, guard Ashton Gibbs returned to a Pittsburgh against St. Johns. Such is life in the Big East. Pitt, however is ranked in the top five for both rebounding and assists. Plus, having their leading scorer back (16.7 ppg) gives the team one of the best three-point shooters in the country at 47%.

Three of Pitt's five starters are seniors. Gilbert Brown, Gary McGhee, and Brad Wanamaker give Pitt the confidence, leadership, and skill to make the Final Four.



The Orange Men have some solid road victories under their belt such as the wins at St. Johns, UConn, and, more recently, Villanova.

After a four-game skid in January, Syracuse is beginning to pull it together, winning their last three in a row. It will be interesting to see what they can do at Georgetown on Saturday.

Rick Jackson is a beast under the basket, averaging a double–double for the year. Like Jim Boeheim wanted, Brandon Triche has been able to turn it on and become a legit scoring threat at the "off guard" position, as well as a leader on the court.

The key is Antonio "Scoop" Jardine. Can he control the ball for the Orange and make big plays when needed?



For the past couple years, the Georgetown Hoyas have underachieved come March.

This year, however, could be different.

Georgetown is one of the most offensively efficient teams in the nation, led by senior guard Austin Freeman. This kid is shooting 40% from beyond the arc and over 50% from the field for better than 17 points per game.

Georgetown's ability to convert may explain why they are 5–2 in games decided by five points or fewer. Good practice for the close, grind 'em out games that come with tournament play. 


Notre Dame

When a team controls the pace of a game, they give themselves an opportunity to beat teams that may be better than them. Case in point: Notre Dame over Pitt, at Pitt.

The Fighting Irish are great at drawing out possessions, forcing teams to play at least 20 seconds of defense. This aggravates more athletic teams and hides any Notre Dame defensive liabilities. Simply put, if your opponent does not have the ball, you don't have to play defense.

Notre Dame shoots the ball well and makes their free throws, but the X–Factor for the Irish is Ben Hansbrough. All year he has been one of college basketball's best closers.

Notre Dame's ball control, pacing, and shooting put them in a good spot to beat better teams, making the Irish this year's giant killers.


Teams in The Big East have the luxury of stellar competition within the conference. By the time the tournament rolls around, Big East teams are well tested and ready for tough games.

Three out of the eight Final Four teams in the last two years have been from the Big East. This year, the conference may be the best it has ever been. At least one team will make the Final Four. The question is: which one?