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Big East Tournament Picks – Syracuse Is Supreme

Posted by Washington Tucker on 3/11/2010 2:03:09 PM

The sports betting world sensed that Syracuse was uniquely vulnerable on March 6 against the Louisville Cardinals, but now that the Orange are not playing in the final game of a storied college basketball arena (Louisville’s Freedom Hall), they should feel right at home in the cozy confines of Madison Square Garden. It should be an Orange-colored week in New York City, as the 2010 Big East Tournament heads into the quarterfinals and beyond.

  • Big East Tournament Picks: Syracuse Is Favored To Win Big East Tournament
  • Last year, the No. 1 seed in this event won the championship (Louisville)
  • Syracuse has advanced to the Big East Tournament final in three of the last five years
  • Villanova has not advanced to the Big East final since 1997

Big East Tournament Picks – The Favorites

With the Big East Tournament now in its quarterfinal round, the four top seeds – who have yet to play a game due to the five-round structure this event now uses – are overwhelming favorites to win the event. However, among those four teams, only two stand out. On the top half of the bracket, Syracuse is the easy pick to reach Saturday night’s championship game. Villanova – who could play the Orange in a Friday night semifinal – got blasted by the ‘Cuse on Feb. 27, 95-77. The Wildcats are strong on the perimeter but weak inside, and Syracuse took advantage by crushing Villanova on the glass.

The bottom half of the Big East bracket has Pittsburgh as the No. 2 seed, but the one team in that section with a real shot at winning the title is third-seeded West Virginia. Coach Bob Huggins knows how to use his team’s length on defense. The Mountaineers can defend very well within a man-to-man framework, but they will occasionally use a 1-3-1 zone that thoroughly confuses opponents. West Virginia can really bog down at the offensive end of the floor; the Mountaineers often settle for long jumpers because they lack a dynamic guard who can exploit a defense with dribble penetration. However, WVU’s defense is so good that it can be (and almost always is) competitive even when its offense is misfiring.

Why is West Virginia the favorite to reach the final in the bottom half of the bracket? WVU crushed Pittsburgh by 19 points on Feb. 3 in Morgantown. Just nine days later, in a rematch held in Pittsburgh, the Mountaineers held a seven-point lead with just 51 seconds left in regulation. It’s true that WVU lost that game back on Feb. 12, but a 98-95 triple-overtime defeat occurred primarily because the Mountaineers missed two straight front ends of one-and-ones. NCAA basketball betting odds would certainly suggest that if WVU gets another seven-point lead in the final minute, the No. 3 seed will knock off the second-seeded Panthers in a prospective semifinal showdown.

Big East Tournament Picks –The Mid-Tier

For all the reasons mentioned above, the sportsbook odds do not favor Villanova or Pittsburgh in semifinal matchups against Syracuse and West Virginia, respectively. Villanova is a tired ballclub that has not fared well against a back-loaded Big East schedule, while Pittsburgh – the most overachieving team in the league not named South Florida – does not have the proven interior scoring last year’s club possessed with DeJuan Blair. Syracuse and West Virginia are complete teams; Villanova and Pittsburgh are really good teams with glaring gaps.

Big East Tournament Picks – The Longshots

The other four teams – which haven’t been mentioned up to this point – are longshots for one very good reason: They have to play at least four games, if not five, to win the tournament. The 11th-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats – surprise winners in Wednesday night’s second round over No. 6 seed Louisville – had to play in the first round on Tuesday night against Rutgers. Even if UC was to get past West Virginia in Thursday’s quarterfinals, the Bearcats would have very little energy left for the semis.

The other three teams in the quarterfinals – fifth-seeded Marquette, seventh-seeded Notre Dame, and eighth-seeded Georgetown – finished in the middle section of the regular-season Big East standings precisely because they weren’t very consistent over the past two months. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that any of those three ballclubs will be able to win four games in four days.

Big East Tournament Picks – The Prediction

Syracuse and West Virginia should stage a ferocious final on Saturday. Any matchup other than this one would rate as a notable shock. Take Syracuse to ride a New York crowd to the finish line.

Pick: Syracuse

For more sports online betting tips and articles, check out the betonline.com Betting Edge daily.

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