Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

A Crash Course to the Big East Championship

Even if the Hoyas defeat the Irish, they are hardly going to be handed the Big East title. A deep and talented field of the top 12 Big East teams lies in wait. HOYA SPORTS offers a rundown of whose a threat and or who isn’t

1. Connecticut (27-2, 14-2)

Why They’ll Win: Pick a reason. You could pick their No.1 overall ranking. You could choose their 14-2 conference record. You could pick the freakishly athletic sophomore forward Rudy Gay who averages 15.4 points and 6.6 rebounds. You could pick junior guard arcus Williams, who, as questionable as his off court decisions may be, is both creative and genius between the lines. Or, you could pick Connecticut’s stable of big men that includes junior forward/center Josh Boone, senior forward/center Hilton Armstrong, and smaller forward senior Ed Nelson, senior Denham Brown, and freshman Jeff Adrien.

Why They Won’t: As skilled as Connecticut is, and even with their Hall of Fame Coach Jim Calhoun, there have been questions this year of how team-oriented this bunch is. Is it actually a team, or just a collection of talent, albeit a great one? And, as talented as Rudy Gay may be, he needs to show 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time if he is going to be the Huskies’ go-to-guy at Madison Square Garden.

2. Villanova (24-3, 14-2)

Why They’ll Win: No. 2 Villanova may not have a very conventional lineup – they start four guards – but it is a potent one. If senior guards Randy Foye (20.2 points, 5.4 boards) and Allen Ray (19.1 points, 4 rebounds) get hot, and sophomore guard Kyle Lowery (11.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists) can get them the ball, look for the Wildcats – who, if both parties win, would be in line to face the Hoyas in the Friday semifinals – to make a deep run in NYC.

Why They Won’t: Height. So far, ‘Nova has survived without a real inside presence. Should Connecticut’s twin towers, Georgetown’s Hibbert, or even Seton Hall forward/center Kelly Whitney figure out a way to expose the Wildcats’ relatively porous interior defense, Villanova’s run could come to an end.

3. West Virginia (20-9, 11-5)

Why They’ll Win: Any Hoya fan can tell you, because GU and No. 21 WVU have faced off twice, that the Mountaineers can shoot. Senior Kevin Pittsnogle can shoot the lights out. Senior forward ike Gansey can make it rain. Senior guards Johannes Herber and Patrick Beilein can hit their shots. Senior point guard J.D. Collins may not take many shots, but he makes them when he does, and he is a wizard with the ball in his hands. Put a West Virginia jersey on, and anyone could probably hit four threes a game.

Why They Won’t: The shooting touch must be contagious, because the Mountaineers’ opponents shoot 45.1 percent. Or maybe West Virginia doesn’t play defense. Whichever one it is, Head Coach Beilein needs to figure out a way to keep opponents from trading baskets with his boys. What’s more, the 6-foot-11 Pittsnogle (5.8 rebounds) needs to be willing to bang more on the boards to keep his team in the game down low.

4. Marquette (20-9, 10-6)

Why They’ll Win: They got the bye, courtesy of Georgetown’s swoon in South Florida, and now the Golden Eagles will need one less win to capture their first Big East title. Forward Steve Novak, a unanimous first team all-Big East selection, and guard Dominic James, the odds-on favorite to be named freshman of the year in the conference, can both shoot from outside or take the ball to the basketball, making for a powerful double-threat.

Why They Won’t: Against Big East foes, Marquette is 3-5 away from the Bradley Center. Sure, they won’t be on the road at the Garden, but they won’t be at home either, and the Eagles will need to figure out a way to win without their raucous fans behind them. If Georgetown takes down Notre Dame, the Hoyas will be Marquette’s first task.

5. Georgetown (19-8, 10-6)

Why They’ll Win: Sophomore forward Jeff Green has been tremendous in most big games this year (21 against Illinois, 18 in the win over Duke, 22 against Pittsburgh, 18 against Syracuse), and Sophomore center Roy Hibbert, when the matchup is right, is a force in the middle. Plus, freshman guard Jesse Sapp has come on strong of late and adds to an already solid backcourt of senior Ashanti Cook, sophomore Jon Wallace, and senior Darrel Owens.

Why They Won’t: As great as they were at times this year, against Duke is the easy example, but the games against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and half of the game against West Virginia also come to mind, they’ve been equally bad at times. Vanderbilt was not a bad loss, and if that one, on Nov. 26, was the only bad it would be excusable. Last weekend’s loss to USF, however, calls into question the Hoyas’ ability to play four nearly perfect games in a row, which they’d have to do to take home the Big East title.

6. Pittsburgh (21-6, 10-6)

Why They’ll Win: Junior center Aaron Gray is the only player in the Big East to average a double-double (14.0 points, 10.4 rebounds). Senior guard Carl Krauser leads the team in points and assists (15.3, 4.7). Together, they make for a grade-A inside-outside threat.

Why They Won’t: Just ask Jeff Green: Gray can be stopped. Ask Georgetown’s backcourt: The 24-year-old Krauser can be kept in check. And, since a 15-0 start, the Panthers (6-6) have been decidedly mediocre. While it is fundamentally sound, don’t expect Pittsburgh to become a world-beater overnight.

7. Seton Hall (18-10, 9-7)

Why They’ll Win: Picked in the preseason to finish 15th in the 16-team Big East, Seton Hall has surprised more than a few people this season. Senior guard Donald Copeland (15.7 points, 4.6 assists) and Whitney (15.5 points, 7.9 rebounds) have been tremendous, and junior guard Jamar Nutter (12.1 points) has been has been solid as well. Plus, with a guy named David Palmer on the squad, you really can do no wrong, as “24” aficionados would surely tell you (though they’d probably be upset that he didn’t attend Georgetown, like his fictional namesake).

Why They Won’t: All statistics should be taken with a grain of salt, but Seton Hall’s numbers simply do not impress. They are 15th in the league in field goal percentage, and rank between 10th and 12th in scoring offense, scoring defense, scoring margin and field goal defense. If the Pirates are going to make a run in New York – and they should get a good number of fans to make the trip from South Orange, N.J. – they are going to need to do so in an unconventional manner, or play far better than they have over the course of the season. Still, wins against then-No. 9 Pitt and then-No. 11 WVU surely indicate that it’s possible.

8. Cincinnati (19-11, 8-8)

Why They’ll Win: When they’re on, they’re great. In a win over then-No. 18 West Virginia to close out the regular season, the Bearcats shot 53.7-percent from the field, grabbed five more rebounds than the Mountaineers, had just seven turnovers, and got at least 15 points from four different players.

Why They Won’t: Contrast their performance against WVU with their loss to Seton Hall just four days earlier. The ‘Cats shot 38.6 percent, were outrebounded 37-31, and turned the ball over 12 times. Only senior guard Jihad Muhammad and senior guard/forward James White scored in double figures, and aggressive senior forward Eric Hicks was held to nine points and seven boards. If that’s the Cincy team that shows, Interim Head Coach Andy Kennedy can forget about his team doing much damage.

9. Syracuse (19-11, 8-8)

Why They’ll Win: Senior guard Gerry McNamara (16.4 points, 5.7 assists per game) can shoot with the best of them, junior forward Demetris Nichols (13.6 points, 5.9 boards) is more than solid, and freshman guard Eric Devendorf (12.4 points) is an up-and-comer. Plus, with Jim Boeheim as head coach, the Orange are always a threat.

Why They Won’t: DePaul 108, Syracuse 69. DePaul didn’t even make the Big East tourney. Georgetown’s loss to USF wasn’t pretty, but the Orange’s 40-point defeat at DePaul did not show the stuff champions are made of.

10. Rutgers (17-12, 7-9)

Why They’ll Win: Junior guard Quincy Douby (25.1 points per game) is capable of going off for 40 points at the drop of a hat.

Why They Won’t: No one else on the team averages in double figures. Against Georgetown, Douby had 29; the Scarlet Knights’ next highest scorer had six, an microcosm of their entire season.

11. Louisville (18-11, 6-10)

Why They’ll Win: Head Coach Rick Pitino knows a thing or two about postseason success, and senior guard Taquan Dean (16.5 points, 5.8 boards, 3.7 assists) leads a team that, in the last two weeks, has defeated Marquette and nearly downed then-No. 15 West Virginia and then-No. 2 Connecticut.

Why They Won’t: Pitino can’t improve Dean’s 37-percent shooting, can’t heal sophomore forward/center David Padgett’s left knee, and can’t shoot free throws for a team that will need to improve upon its 69.6-percent clip. The Cardinals start out with No. 9 Pittsburgh. How is Louisville against ranked teams this year? 0-7

12. Notre Dame (15-12, 6-10)

Why They’ll Win: If senior guard Chris Quinn and junior guard Colin Falls catch lightening in a bottle and consistently shoot up to their potential, watch out, Big East. Their outside fire could be enough to make up for the Irish’s relative lack of an inside presence or someone that can consistently take the ball to the basket.

Why They Won’t: Quinn and Falls, who has 16 points total over his last three games, while both dangerous, are not J.J. Redick. The chances that they both deliver an otherworldly performance four days in a row are somewhere between slim and none.

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