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Big East Dominance

March 23, 2009

5 of the teams in the sweet 16 are from the Big East, what a shocker.  #1 seeds, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut were expected to be here, and Syracuse and Villanova are tough teams that can play with anybody.  All five of these teams are battle tested game in and game out during the regular season.  The Big East was by far the best conference in college basketball this season.  Pittsburgh, Louisville, Syracuse, Villanova, and Connecticut have all played one another, and therefore are capable with competing with the best teams from other confences.  Looking ahead to the sweet 16, Pittsburgh should beat Xavier, Louisville should beat Arizona, and Connecticut should beat Purdue.  I am counting on Syracuse to take down Oklahoma, and Villanova to defeat Duke.  There is a very good possibility of 5 of the elite 8 teams to be from the Big East.  If this isn’t dominance, than what is?  Big East teams all play with consistent resiliency, and a common theme with the 5 that are remaining in the tournament is they have big time players that can take over games.  Lets take a look at the players that will be asked to take over if the moment arises…

Pittsburgh:  You saw it today, when times get tough the Panthers turned to Sam Young.  Oklahoma State gave Pit a run for its money today, but Young’s 32 point performance erased any Cowboys upset hopes.  If there are four seconds left on the clock and the Panthers are down 4, the ball should be in Sam Young’s hands.

Connecticut:  The leader, and court general, AJ Price has arguably been the best player thus far in the tournament.  His name should be next to persistence and dedication in the dictionary.  Coming off of a devistating knee injury in last year’s first round game against San Diego, Price has come back and hasn’t missed a beat.  He gets the Huskies rolling, and when he is hot Uconn is nearly impossible to contain.

Syracuse:  Jonny Flynn has developed into one of the top point guards in the nation.  His ability to penetrate the lane and open up wide open 3 pointers for Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins really makes Syracuse a very dangerous team.  Flynn is very crafty, and is great at driving to the hoop and drawing fouls.  If Syracuse is going to beat Oklahoma, it will be up to Flynn to set the pace.

Louisville:  Terrence Williams is a 6 foot 6 phenom.  He can shoot the three, drive to the lane with a ton of speed, and the guy is a great defender.  His ability to play all over the court causes matchup problems for opponents, and Arizona will have trouble dealing with him.  Williams stepped it up for the Cardinals yesterday when Siena took a 4 point lead.   He scored 9 points in the remaining 7:20 of the game to closed the deal. Rick Pitino can get sleep at night knowing that Terrence Williams has his back.

Villanova: Dante Cunningham has probably been the most improved player in the nation this year.  Scoring 16 points a game, and grabbing more than 7 rebounds a game, Cunningham is tough to guard because he is so strong and elusive.  He allows Reynolds, and Fisher to have more space on the perimeter and is Villanova’s most valuable player.


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