March Madness 2011: What's the Likelihood of UConn or Marquette Winning Title?
So far, the Big East has been the biggest disappointment in tournament history, as nine of the 11 teams that made it were eliminated in the first weekend. That's unheard of, especially with the powers that were knocked out such as Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Louisville, and Syracuse.
Nothing went right at all for those teams, and as we approach the second weekend, Connecticut and Marquette are the last two Big East teams standing.
The Big East has not produced a national champion since Connecticut won it all in 2004. They followed up on Syracuse's 2003 title with Carmelo Anthony. What is the likelihood that either of these two teams pulls it off and wins four more games?
Probably not very high with Connecticut having the better chance but it doesn't mean it can't happen. That would be silly to say after seeing what transpired in the second and third rounds where there were a bunch of lower seeds winning.
The tougher road certainly belongs to Marquette but they proved what they can do by knocking off a Jim Boeheim led Syracuse team who they also beat in the regular season.
Marquette will face two-seeded North Carolina on Friday night at 7:15pm and it's not out of the question that the Golden Eagles could pull it off.
Which Big East team will win the title?
The Tar Heels are a much better rebounding team than Marquette as they lead the nation in that category, but Marquette is the better shooting team.
Darius Johnson-Odom is Marquette's leading scorer at 16 points per game and trying to match up with North Carolina, Jae Crowder is the team's leading rebounder. Marquette also does a better job at shooting from behind the arc, but North Carolina has a big size advantage.
It's going to be tough for Marquette to defend the seven-foot Tyler Zeller who averages 15 points and 7 rebounds on the season.
It should be an interesting matchup between two teams from power conferences and if Marquette can pull of the upset, they'd await the winner of Ohio State against Kentucky. They would probably have a tougher time trying to beat one of those teams opposed to North Carolina. In fact, they wouldn't have a chance to beat Ohio State, the top overall team in the nation.
The Final Four would be even tougher for Marquette, facing a team like Duke, San Diego State, or conference-rival Connecticut.
Speaking of Connecticut, what are their chances of winning the championship? Can you actually doubt anything the Huskies do anymore? Their story from preseason through now has been phenomenal.
They were picked by most to finish around 10th in the Big East and not even make the NCAA tournament. Led by Kemba Walker, they got off to a tremendous start and fought through a tough mid-season stretch to get ready for the Big East tournament.
After taking care of DePaul to open that tournament, they stunningly beat Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Louisville to earn their automatic bid to the big dance. They did the unthinkable, winning five games in five days as Walker put on an absolute show.
Many thought they'd be out of steam for the tournament, but Connecticut avoided an upset to Bucknell and beat Cincinnati to get to the Sweet 16.
Now, winners of seven straight and rolling along, they'll face the two-seeded San Diego State Aztecs on Thursday night at 7:15pm.
They may not be a "brand-name team" but San Diego State is legitimate and can make the Final Four. The one thing they do better than Connecticut is shoot. They also bring a bunch of toughness to the table, having gotten past Temple in the Round of 32 in double-overtime.
Connecticut is better on the boards and they have Kemba Walker which makes them capable of beating any remaining team. San Diego State doesn't have a single player on their team that can do what Walker can do, which is explode for 30 on any given night.
Connecticut has to be able to control Kawhi Leonard in the paint, who averages 10.6 rebounds along with being the team's leading scorer.
This could end up being the best of the eight games in the Sweet 16. If Connecticut can win this game, they'd face the winner of Duke against Arizona. They can beat either one of those teams, and San Diego State is the tougher matchup.
If they make the Final Four, they'd run into Ohio State, North Carolina, Kentucky, or Marquette, so the road would only get tougher.
Is it likely that Marquette or Connecticut wins the title? Not really and a lot would have to go right. But in a tournament in which almost every Big East team has gone down, wouldn't it be something to see a Big East team emerge as the national champion?
It would be just as strange as seeing seven exit in the first weekend.
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