Who will be the Final Four contenders overall, and will a Big East team be one of the Four? I asked the following contributors:
Cincinnati Bearcats Blog (Twitter) | Connecticut The UConn Blog (Twitter) | DePaul Blue Demons Nation | DePaul Chicago College Basketball (Twitter) | Georgetown Hoya Prospectus | Marquette Cracked Sidewalks (Twitter) | Pittsburgh Cardiac Hill (Twitter) | Rutgers On the Banks (Twitter) | Seton Hall South Orange Juice (Twitter) | South Florida VoodooFive (Twitter) | St. John's Rumble in the Garden (Twitter)| Villanova By the Numbers | Villanova The Nova Blog (Twitter) | Villanova VUHoops (Twitter) | West Virginia The Smoking Musket (Twitter)
... and they were kind enough to answer. Note that many of these picks were made before Robbie Hummel's injury. The results... after the jump>>
On the Banks (Twitter): March Madness is always a crapshoot, but I think it's likely a Big East team gets to the Final Four. Pittsburgh is due, and maybe the deepest team in the league. My early Final Four guess is:
Cardiac Hill (Twitter): Final fours are impossible to predict, but just because the league is so talented, I'd say one team will make it. Who that team is is anybody's guess. If you forced me to pick a Final Four now, I'd probably go with:
Blue Demons Nation: No – the two best teams in the conference, Villanova and Pitt, seem to be on upset alert each March. West Virginia has the best shot, as Huggins gets his teams ready for March, but I see them missing out at the Elite Eight level.
VUHoops (Twitter): I would always assume that a Big East team will get to the Final Four, it's a strong conference every year, and there are always a few contenders to break through to that level. I'm going to have to pick
I'll admit that 'Nova is a bit of a homer-pick, but like the other schools I named, the 'Cats are returning a lot of talent this year, and between a shorter rotation and a year of work under their belts, I think they could take a big step forward.
Hoya Prospectus: I don't think so. Every team is somewhat flawed. If one does, it is likely to be a Nova, Cuse or Georgetown where everything goes right.
The Smoking Musket (Twitter): As much as it pains me to say this, Pitt will finally break it's tournament curse and reach the Final Four. Pitt has one of the best backcourt's in the nation and some tough inside talent that can be a nice change of pace.
and Michigan State will head to the Final Four (thanks, dart board).
Yes, a Big East team will reach the Final Four.
Pittsburgh - while I didn't pick them to win the regular season, I think Jamie Dixon is an excellent NCAA Tournament coach.
The East Coast Bias (Twitter): I think so. There is a wealth of upcoming talent in the Big East. And even though no one knows their names, I look around the college landscape, and I just see more talent on Villanova and Pitt, maybe even on Syracuse and Georgetown. And I see weaknesses in the teams other than Duke and maybe Michigan State. I would think of a Final Four of
maybe Ohio State (or Purdue),
and something like Michigan State/ Missouri/ Washington.
Villanova by the Numbers: The regional assignments can be pretty flakey, and seeding can influence how deep the contingent can run. The conference has consistently placed between one and three teams among the first three seeds (#1 - #12 on the S-curve), and this year should be about the same. Any of those teams should have (based on the draw) a good chance to get through their region. Right now I think those three are Pittsburgh, Villanova and Georgetown.
Any one of three other teams could catch fire and end up among the #1 to #5 seeds however, and in that group I would include West Virginia, Syracuse and Marquette. The Mountaineers still have a nucleus that took a deep run into the field last season, and though I think Syracuse may lack experience at critical positions, the Orange could certainly get there too.
I'm gonna say yes. I think Nova makes it.
The other 3 will be:
and I have no idea, Washington.
The UConn Blog (Twitter): I think Pitt and Villanova definitely have the talent to be Final Four contenders. Syracuse probably does, too, but I never miss a chance to take a cheap shot at the Orange, so I'll just say that they are just positively fun-derachieving in the NCAAs lately.
and Michigan State (may these picks jinx all three),
in addition to the Big East teams, Purdue and Kansas State.
and Michigan State are my picks at the moment.
South Orange Juice (Twitter): Although we've got 3 BIG EAST teams ranked ahead of them in the pre-season, I believe the Georgetown Hoyas are best equipped for a deep tournament run in March and I expect to see them in the Final Four.