By Jon Rothstein
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The Orange have rolled to a near perfect regular season and haven’t lost a game with sophomore center Fab Melo in the lineup. Jim Boeheim’s team has a plethora of ways to beat an opponent and should be more than fresh when they take the floor at MSG on Thursday at noon. Despite some theories that a double bye could hurt Syracuse, it’s difficult to see this team not playing Saturday night for a Big East title.
TOP CHALLENGER: MARQUETTE
Is this Buzz Williams’ best team since he’s been in Milwaukee? It certainly looks like it. With burly big man Davante Gardner back in the lineup, the Golden Eagles finally have a legitimate low post scorer — something this team has lacked in his absence. Looking at the bracket, Marquette could have a clear path to the finals and a potential date with Syracuse.
UNDER THE RADAR: GEORGETOWN
John Thompson III has traditionally had his teams play exceptionally well when they’ve come to Madison Square Garden in March and I’ve got a feeling we’ll see more of the same in the coming days. The Hoyas have two seniors in Jason Clark and Henry Sims and are going to be an extremely difficult team to score on because of their size and length. Keep an eye on freshman guard Jabril Trawick, who is slowly becoming a “Trenton Hassell” type off the bench for the Hoyas.
FEELING THE HEAT: SETON HALL
The Pirates should be the most desperate team in the field simply because they have the most to play for. After losing by 28 points at DePaul on Saturday night, Seton Hall put themselves in a position where they have to win at least two games this week to have any hopes of advancing to the field of 68.
UNDERRATED: CINCINNATI’S JAQUON PARKER
6-foot-3 guard is the one of the top glue guys in college basketball.
KEEP AN EYE ON: SYRACUSE’S DION WAITERS
The Orange’s most talented player should shine on Broadway.
GOOD KNIGHTS IN THE FUTURE?
Rutgers coach Mike Rice hasn’t had an easy time dealing with three freshman guards in his back court but the Scarlet Knights don’t have a terrible draw. Rutgers plays Villanova Tuesday night and then would play South Florida Wednesday should they get by the Wildcats — that’s two very winnable games.
Providence over Seton Hall on Tuesday.
Don’t be surprised if St. John’s gets by Pitt on Tuesday and then gives Georgetown all it can handle. The Red Storm aren’t particularly deep but have gotten noticeably better as the season has progressed.
Just like last year, UCONN will play DePaul in the noon game on Tuesday. A season ago, the Huskies beat the Blue Demons and won their next four games en route to a Big East and National Championship. Deja Vu? Not likely, but just saying.
RICK WILL ROLL
Look for Louisville to play exceptionally well this week. Rick Pitino’s team hasn’t shot the ball well recently but still has the ability to put together a good run in New York. Transition buckets will be key for the undermanned Cardinals.
FIVE GUYS THAT HAVE TO PLAY WELL FOR THEIR TEAMS TO HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN
1. Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall
2. Anthony Collins, South Florida
3. Jerrian Grant, Notre Dame
4. Darryl Bryant, West Virginia
5. Shabazz Napier, UCONN
Who do you think will win the Big East tourney? Sound off below…