Friday, March 11, 2011

Big East Semis: An Insider's Guide

UConn and Syracuse meet in Big East tournament for first time on this stage since their six-overtime epic in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times)

After a 2-2 third day in the Big East tournament yesterday, we now shift our sights to the semifinals tonight. Actually, there was some of that going on yesterday after Syracuse defeated St. John's to secure a final four matchup with Connecticut, prompting me to be among the first to say the following two words when I came across my redstormsports.com colleague Ralph Bednarczyk in the press room:

Six overtimes.

That's right, tonight marks the first time UConn and the 'Cuse have seen each other at Madison Square Garden since the instant classic that produced this T-shirt in upstate New York. (Photo courtesy of CNYcentral.com)

Here we go with two games that will determine who faces off tomorrow night for a conference title.

#9 Seed UConn vs. #4 Seed Syracuse - The Kemba Walker express returns to the "World's Most Famous Arena" for the fourth time in as many days to take on an Orange team that was taken to the limit by St. John's even after Johnnies swingman D.J. Kennedy tore his ACL six minutes into the game. Walker is also one of just four players on either side (teammate Donnell Beverly and Rick Jackson and Kris Joseph of Syracuse being the others) to have actually played in the six-overtime marathon, as Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine was injured that year and medically redshirted.

#2 Seed Notre Dame vs. #3 Seed Louisville - Both teams used decisive quarterfinal wins to propel themselves into this meeting, and the Fighting Irish will most likely secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a win tonight. Louisville will be looking to avenge an 89-79 defeat at the Joyce Center earlier in the regular season in a game the Cardinals had chances to win in regulation before Notre Dame forced overtime. Pay close attention to a matchup between Louisville's Kyle Kuric and Scott Martin of Notre Dame on the perimeter, as whoever makes the most threes will likely be the winner.

The Way I See It: Predictions
UConn defeats Syracuse
Louisville defeats Notre Dame

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