2011 Big East Tournament Predictions and College Basketball Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 3/7/2011
Win In The Garden or win in The Tournament. That seems to be the prevailing attitude toward the Big East Tournament from the bobblehead media. The idea is that this Mega-Conference has a tournament that is so grueling, and so exhausting that whoever wins couldn’t possibly have the reserves to make a deep NCAA Tournament run.
However, that’s not the case. And in fact the team that wins the Big East Tournament actually has an excellent shot at a strong tournament run. Three of the last four Big East Tournament champions have made it to at least a regional final and two of the three advanced to the Final Four. Also, Connecticut won the national title after cutting down the nets at MSG.
That means that there were really only a couple flameouts by Big East champs over the last seven years and both of those belong to Syracuse. However, one of the years the Orange were victims of poor work by the selection committee (losing in OT to a Vermont team that was both underseeded and given the advantage of playing in its backyard) and the other year they actually were exhausted because the one-man-gang of Gerry McNamara made an incredible four-game run to even secure a berth.
The Big East Tournament tips off on Tuesday, March 8 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Since the Big East Tournament bracket reads like braille there isn’t much point breaking down matchups. Instead, we’ll simply give a quirk run-through of the teams that have the potential to cut down the nets in the Garden and come out champions of the Mega-Conference.
Here is Doc’s Sports Big East Tournament predictions with college basketball odds from BetUS:
The Panthers have earned the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament and are now hunting for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA’s. The Panthers are deep, experienced, and they can play a variety of styles. Jamie Dixon has a history of excellent performances at The Garden. Pittsburgh won the title in 2008 and they have made the finals in four of the last seven years. The problem with this team is that it doesn’t have a great point guard and when it goes cold on the perimeter the Panthers can be brutal offensively.
Notre Dame (+200)
There is really very little not to like about this Notre Dame team. However, I’ll try. The first issue I have with this group is obviously depth. Even with a double-bye into the quarterfinals this team only goes about 6.5 players deep and I think that winning three games in three nights against top-level competition is a lot to ask. Yes, this is one of the most experienced teams in the country. And they are 11-1 in their last 12 games. However, they have had the benefit of a cushy conference schedule and they don’t exactly have high-level athletes that will step up over the course of a big weekend. For the Irish it basically comes down to this: they can make a run in the Big East Tournament or in the NCAA Tournament. But with that short bench they can’t do both. And I don’t think that MSG is going to be their playground.
Run as far away from this team as fast as you can. The Wildcats are a debacle right now and I don’t see them snapping out of the slide that they have been in over the last month. This team is just 2-6 in its last eight games and just 4-8 in its last 12. The Wildcats underwent a similar swoon last March and that team was much, much better than this one.
The Cardinals have been playing a charmed season this year. And after watching the disjointed, overrated messes that Louisville has produced the last two seasons this year’s team is a breath of fresh air. I think that this team has the goods to win this tournament and I think they are offering excellent value. This team has depth, athletes, shooters, some seniors with something to prove, and a favorable draw with the double-bye.
The Orange has been one of the streakiest teams in the country this year. They opened the season with 18 straight wins before a stretch where they went just 2-6. But since a tough loss at Louisville they have run off five straight wins and are coming off an eye-popping 48-point home win over DePaul. Syracuse has the huge advantage of the double-bye into the quarterfinals. And MSG has been their home away from Dome over the last decade. But they could have to face off with St. John’s in the quarterfinals. And the revenge-minded Johnnies have been money on their own court this season.
The Hoyas are still reeling from the loss of senior point guard Chris Wright. Georgetown had the best backcourt in the country until Wright went down and they are 0-3 playing without him. This Georgetown team already had massive depth issues (they only go seven deep, and that is it) and now without Wright their days in New York, and the NCAA Tournament, are numbered. Austin Freeman is good enough to win a game all by himself but without a quarterback on the floor to run John Thompson’s precision offense this group is really facing an identity crisis.
Kemba Walker and his band of merry men have a chance to be a spoiler here in the Big East Tournament and I think they are offering some decent odds. At its core this is still a very young team. But Walker can be unstoppable and Jim Calhoun has a proven track record. This team won the Maui Invitational, beating Wichita State, Michigan State and Kentucky while doing so, so they have some positive experience in a tournament setting. However, they are just 4-7 in their last 11 games and I think this team has been exposed a bit behind Walker.
West Virginia (+1200)
These odds are way too short for the Mountaineers considering that they aren’t very good. WVU is the defending Big East Tournament champions so they get some respect for that. But their anemic offense will be exposed in The City this year. Yes, they are tough to drive a stake through the heart of because they are so physical on the defensive end. But eventually you have to score. And this team has been ugly over the last month in road losses to Villanova, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
The Bearcats have been a Big East sleeper all season long and they could be headed into this tournament as well. They have punched their ticket to The Big Dance with fortuitous wins over Georgetown over the last two weeks. Those wins should have asterisks because they beat the Hoyas without Chris Wright. But in the eyes of the selection committee and the computers those wins hold plenty of sway. That said, this team has a flimsy resume and in a league of one-man-wrecking-crews the Bearcats are the rare team that doesn’t have a go-to guy. I suspect one win and out for this team. If that.
The Golden Eagles head to New York City as one of the most desperate teams in the country. Two weeks ago this club seemed poised to lock up an unprecedented 11th bid for the Big East in the NCAA Tournament. But then two humiliating losses in a row against Cincinnati and Seton hall zapped them of any level of certainty. They need a good showing. However, Marquette’s max-effort, frantic, take-no-prisoners style isn’t really conducive to success in a major tournament. The Golden Eagles have some high level talents, particularly Jae Crowder (who I am a huge fan of) and Jimmy Butler (who needs to step up). This team needs at least one win to keep hope alive.
St. John’s (+650)
The Johnnies have been a wrecking crew on the Garden court. They have wins over Duke, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Connecticut and Pittsburgh at home this year and this team is brimming with confidence. St. John’s is the most experienced team in the country and they know that this is their last hurrah. A Big East Tournament championship would probably mean more to this school than a Final Four appearance. They should have exceptional support from the home crowd and that Syracuse-St. John’s matchup in the quarterfinals could be the most intense game of the tournament.
The Field (+3000)
This includes Seton Hall, Providence, Rutgers, DePaul and South Florida. Both Seton Hall and Providence have players that can singlehandedly win a game for their teams. But neither plays any defense and both are too shaky to even consider. Rutgers and South Florida both play plenty of defense but they don’t have enough backcourt quality or enough scoring punch to be taken seriously. And DePaul is, well, DePaul. They suck.
Big East Conference Tournament Prediction: Good luck. This tournament is loaded with talent and it is very difficult to predict who is going to catch fire. In most conference tournaments there are about three teams that have a realistic shot at winning a title. In this one there are about seven. If you were going to pin me down on something I would go with Pittsburgh. However, I think that Notre Dame is playing the best basketball right now. Of course, Syracuse always dominates The Garden. And Villanova and Connecticut can get hot too. And don’t forget about the defending champs, West Virginia. Did I mention Georgetown or Louisville? OK, I think you get the picture. (Oh, and my advice: bet the underdog.)
Robert Ferringo keeps proving himself to be one of the best college basketball handicappers in the nation. His college basketball picks have earned $100 bettors nearly $7,300 in the last two months. Another strong card is coming on Tuesday and you can get his pick HERE for only $30.
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