Big East Basketball Tournament 2011 Game-by-Game Schedule and Predictions

Brett Appley@@BrettAppleyCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2011

Big East Basketball Tournament 2011 Game-by-Game Schedule and Predictions

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    WASHINGTON, DC- JANUARY 12:  Ashton Gibbs #12 of the Pittsburgh Panthers dribbles around Vee Sanford #11 of the Georgetown Hoyas during a college basketball game on January 12, 2011 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  The Panthers won 72-57.  (Photo
    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    The Big East is the most exciting conference in 2011.

    They currently have nine teams ranked in the top 25: Pittsburgh(3), Notre Dame(4), Syracuse(11), Louisville(14), St. Johns(17), West Virginia(20), UConn(21), Georgetown(22) and Cincinnati(25).

    With close to the majority of the elite teams in the country all coming from the Big East, the conference tournament should feature some awesome, exciting match-ups that will set up March Madness pretty nicely.

Potential Round 2: No. 8. Georgetown Vs. No. 9. UConn

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    WASHINGTON - JANUARY 12:   Hasheen Thabeet #34 of the University of Connecticut blocks a shot by Roy Hibbert #55 of the Georgetown Hoyas at the Verizon Center on January 12, 2008 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Georgetown comes into the tournament riding a three game losing streak, and could face a UConn Huskies team whom they lost to earlier in the year.

    UConn started off the season 10-0, but played inconsistently the rest of the way. They are currently destroying No. 16. Depaul in their first round match and will secure a game against Georgetown.

    After such a swift victory, UConn will ride their great performance into their game against the Hoyas, and will take control early, forcing Georgetown to play catch-up the rest of the way.

    Winner: UConn 75-69

Potential Round 2: No. 10. Villanova Vs. No. 7. Cincinnati

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    ROSEMONT, IL - FEBRUARY 19: Antonio Pena #0 of the Villanova Wildcats controls the ball against the DePaul Blue Demons at the Allstate Arena on February 19, 2011 in Rosemont, Illinois. Villanova defeated DePaul 77-75 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Although Villanova isn't ranked in the top 25, they are still most likely going to make the big dance.

    Their potential contest against Cincinnati in the second round of the Big East Tournament should be a good one, with both teams wanting to show their worth to the tournament selectors.

    Villanova won its first meeting against the Bearcats in the regular season, but they haven't been playing well as of late, and Cincinnati should pounce on them.

    Winner: Cincinnati 67-62

Potential Round 2: No. 11. Marquette Vs. No. 6. West Virginia

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 26: Bob Huggins the Head Coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers gives instructions to his team during the Big East Conference game against the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center on January 26, 2011 in Louisville, Kentuck
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Marquette is the last team not mentioned yet from the Big East who still has a good shot of making the NCAA tournament.

    They will have to advance past Providence if they want the privilege of facing West Virginia in the second round.

    Bob Huggins led his squad to victories over UConn, Louisville and Notre Dame in the past two weeks, and will look to take that hot streak into the Big East Tournament.

    These two teams always provide a good game when they face each other, and it will be West Virginia who gets to revenge its regular season loss to Marquette with a win in Madison Square Garden.

Potential Quarterfinal: No. 5. St. Johns Vs. No. 4. Syracuse

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    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30:  Tyler Thornton #3 of the Duke Blue Devils dribbles the ball against Dwayne Polee II #0 of the St. John's Red Storm at Madison Square Garden on January 30, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    St. Johns has found new life this year under head coach Steve Lavin, and looks to make a deep run in the Big East Tournament.

    They get to play with the home crowd on their side which will be a huge benefit, especially playing against a team like Syracuse.

    Both teams have been playing great as of late, and there will be fireworks when they meet at MSG.

    Even though St. Johns has everything going for them, Syracuse is playing like an elite team and will barely scrape by with the victory.

    Winner: Syracuse 75-73

Potential Quarterfinal: No. 9. UConn Vs. No. 1. Pittsburgh

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 27:  Travon Woodall #1 of the Pittsburgh Panthers and Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies have a laugh at Petersen Events Center on December 27, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Pittsburgh defeated Connecticut 78-64.  (
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh is arguably one of the best teams of the country and is looking to secure its number one seed in the NCAA tournament with a few wins in the Big East.

    Their first opponent could be a UConn team who can beat anyone on any given day. Pittsburgh should prepare well for them though, and Ashton Gibbs will lead the Panthers into the semifinals.

    Winner: Pittsburgh 70-60

Potential Quarterfinal: No. 6. West Virginia Vs. No. 3. Louisville

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 02:  Gorgui Dieng #10 of the Louisville Cardinals dunks the ball during the Big East Conference game against the Providence Friars at the KFC Yum! Center on March 2, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville won 87-60.  (Photo by And
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Louisville comes into the Big East Tournament winning four of its last five games, with one loss coming to West Virginia by only two points.

    Playing on a neutral site, Louisville should be able to spread the ball well enough amongst their squad and get a good performance from everyone.

    This game will be another close call though, just as the last one was, but Louisville will come out on top.

    Winner: Louisville 75-71

Potential Semifinal: No. 4. Syracuse Vs. No. 1. Pittsburgh

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    WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 26:  Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange reacts to call during a college basketball game against the Georgetown Hoyas on February 26, 2011 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC  The Orange 58-51.  (Photo by Mitchell L
    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Syracuse and Pittsburgh have become fierce rivals over the past decade, with both teams playing consistently at an elite level.

    While Pittsburgh dominated their regular season match-up at home, playing in New York will be quite a challenge.

    Rick Jackson has been playing awesome for Syracuse as of late and should have a big game here in the semifinals. Pittsburgh is just a more talented overall team though, and won't need to rely on one big performance from one player to win this game.

    Winner: Pittsburgh 70-66

Potential Big East Final: No. 2. Notre Dame Vs. No. 4. Syracuse

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 08:  Ben Hansbrough #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dribbles the ball 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.
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Yes, I know I just advanced Pittsburgh past the Orange in the semifinals, but hey, anything can happen.

    If Syracuse can get to the finals, their opponent will most likely be Notre Dame who have become an elite team with the outstanding performance of Ben Hansbrough.

    The Fighting Irish have won 11 of their last 12 games and should zip through the tournament with ease. Syracuse did beat them badly at home on January 1, but this is a different Notre Dame team who will not see a defeat come by the hands of Syracuse twice in one season.

    Winner: Notre Dame 81-75

Potential Big East Final: No. 5. St. Johns Vs. No. 3. Louisville

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    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30:  Head coach of the St. John's Red Storm Steve Lavin watches on against the Duke Blue Devils  at Madison Square Garden on January 30, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    This potential final is a bit of a stretch, but St. Johns is playing at home, so its not too inconceivable that they can make it to the finals.

    Louisville will really only have one tough game to get past in Notre Dame if they want to advance to the finals.

    Conference tournaments are shaken up every year by lower seeded teams who play with a ton of heart because they want to prove something to everyone.

    I believe St. Johns can win this tournament, if luck is on their side. They will need to play as well as they have all year, but I'm not going to put it past them.

    Winner: St. Johns 69-61

Potential Big East Final: No. 2. Notre Dame Vs. No. 1. Pittsburgh

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    VILLANOVA, PA - FEBRUARY 12: Brad Wanamaker #22 of the Pittsburgh Panthers puts up a shot during the game against the Villanova Wildcats at The Pavilion on February 12, 2011 in Villanova, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    In all likelihood, the most realistic championship match that we will see is Pittsburgh against Notre Dame.

    These are the two teams who have played the best in the Big East all year, and I see no reason why they can't both make it to the finals.

    Whoever wins this game will be a lock for a number one seed in the NCAA tournament, and it's possible that whoever loses will get a number one seed as well.

    Still, both teams will play their hearts out for the title, and it will be the Panthers who come from behind to secure the Big East Championship in the final minutes.

    Winner: Pittsburgh 71-69

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