Raphielle Johnson is live at the Big East Tournament all week. Check back in throughout the week for his updates.
of the Day: Syracuse
Histrionics aside, this is a team that's tough to beat when they come to play. The only issue is how consistent they can be in regards to attitude; at this point in the season you can put the balls away if you don't show up ready to go. A key development with Coach Boeheim's team is the improved play of senior Kristof Ongenaet, who expands the frontcourt rotation and allows for more flexibility in their matchups.
Final Four sleeper? With that zone, which according to Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez, "you need some time to prepare for," the Orange can give lots of teams fits.
On the "clock": Connecticut
Providence has the most riding on its quarterfinal, but it's been a few years since the Huskies have celebrated a win at the Big East (2005 vs. Georgetown). Will the selection committee consider three teams from the same league on the top line? UConn is in position to find out, but they need to take care of business in New York to make an already strong case even stronger.
#8 Providence 83, #16 DePaul 74
Jerry Wainwright's Blue Demons fought as hard as they could to pull off their second upset in as many games but it wasn't enough to withstand a second-half run by Providence. Will Walker (31 points) and Dar Tucker (30 points) became the first pair of teammates in Big East Championship history to score thirty or more in the same game, but they received little scoring help from their teammates. Mac Koshwal, saddled with foul trouble early, had just two points for the game.
Three Friars reached double figures, led by Sharaud Curry's 25. Separation was reached on a pair of key three-pointers by Jeff Xavier. The first came with 4:44 remaining, giving PC a lead they wouldn' relinquish at 64-62. The second came with 1:09 left in the contest, extending the lead to ten (75-65) and allowing Providence to withstand some hot shooting from Walker in the game's final minute. The Friars take on top seed Louisville in the first quarterfinal of the day Thursday.
#5 Marquette 74, #13 St. John's 45
When shots aren't falling it's easy to allow other areas of your game to deteriorate and that's exactly what happened to the Red Storm. The first line in most stories will be their Big East Championship-record ten points in a half, but right under that will be a note on Marquette outscoring them 20-4 in second chance points. The tournament record for fewest points in a game is 40 (Georgetown vs. Seton Hall in 2001), a mark that wasn't passed until Malik Boothe hit a three late in the second half.
The Golden Eagles, who face Villanova for the third time this season on Thursday, were led by Wesley Matthews (20 points). Lazar Hayward scored seventeen, helping make up for Jerel McNeal's first half foul trouble. For the game St. John's had sixteen turnovers and just three assists, all of which came in the second half.
#7 West Virginia 74, #10 Notre Dame 62
Seeding held to form in the night session as well, with West Virginia eliminating the Irish behind a dominant showing on the boards. The Mountaineers won the rebounding battle 52-32 with freshman Devin Ebanks grabbing eighteen caroms to lead the way. Three players dominated the scoring for West Virginia, led by Alex Ruoff (25 points) and Darryl "Truck" Bryant (20 points). Thursday brings a third edition of the "Backyard Brawl" with WVU looking for their first win over Pitt this season.
Notre Dame was led in scoring by Luke Harangody, who finished with twenty-seven. The Irish shot just 25.9% from the field in the first half, going into the locker room down 36-18. Extending the defense got Mike Brey's team back into the game, but you don't have much hope when you give up twenty offensive rebounds. Notre Dame now waits to see whether or not they'll be heading to the NIT (they'll be there).
#6 Syracuse 89, #11 Seton Hall 74
The turning point of this game came early in the second half with a pair of double technicals. The bad thing for Seton Hall: one of those altercations involved John Garcia, who as a result went to the bench with four fouls. From there the Orange began to get whatever they wanted on the offensive end, inside and out, turning a hotly-contested game into a laugher. Five players scored in double digits for Syracuse, with Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf leading the way with nineteen apiece. Jeremy Hazell led the Pirates, who still hold out hope for an NIT berth, with twenty-seven.
The difference: assist-to-turnover ratio. Seton Hall had seventeen assists to eighteen turnovers, primarily a result of Syracuse's length on defense. The Orange tied a Big East Championship record with thirty assists and had just twelve turnovers. Next for Syracuse is Connecticut, a team they've beaten the last three Big East Championship meetings. The Huskies won the lone regular season meeting 63-49 back on February 11th.