One tear. The best day of the Big East season is behind us. I know that there is still a championship to be decided, but we no longer have afternoon basketball and four thrilling matchups to whet our Big East basketball appetites. Good night, sweet prince.
Friday's semifinal games will try to match Thursday's obscene finishes and just may do that with two interesting tilts on the docket. Swoop me, to the matchups!
Marquette vs. Georgetown
I don't want to steal Rubie's preview thunder, so I'll make this one brief. It's the premier Jesuit power of the 70s versus the premier Jesuit power of the 80s. JT3's legacy of success versus Buzz's...well...profuse sweating? Dancing ability? How about talent maximizing, how the hell is this team winning, wizardry?
The crucial factor will be Marquette's defensive effectiveness. Marquette's defensive efficiency ratings have been climbing throughout the Big East season despite no inside presence and a backcourt of midgets.
MU depends on forcing turnovers, particularly with opposing big men. Lazar Hayward is a pest with swatting the ball from unsuspecting big men off the double down. The prime example of this was the lockdown job on Louisville's Samardo Samuels On paper, Greg Monroe should be able to own MU down low, but how he handles the double down and constant pressure will be fun to watch. Monroe had 9 points and 10 rips to go along with 4 turnovers in the first matchup.
MU has done a decent job defending the three, but it might not matter with Wright and Freeman bombing away. It will be a long night for Marquette if Monroe can effectively pass out of the double down. Just a heads up to MU fans, Monroe is an excellent passer.
One final note for MU: WATCH THE BACK CUTS!!
Notre Dame vs. West Virginia
Hype: Most importantly, this game is a basketball rematch of the only Notre Dame football game Rubie has attended in South Bend. Outside of that, ND is looking to continue their late season renaissance. This is no longer Luke Harangody's team, it's Mike Brey's team. Big hat tip to Brey for turning this ship in around in such quick order. They have slowed the pace down offensively and have focused on, wait for it, defense? Now, I could make a Charlie Weis defense joke here, but I'll restrain myself.
If you watched last night's Big Ten-esque quarterfinals games, prepare for more of the same. Both teams are near the bottom in KenPom's pace ratings.
West Virginia is the Jay Bilas special. They have lots of "length", they are "physical", and "their best offense is off a missed shot." They are #2 in KenPom's offensive rebounding percentage statistic and have loads of rangy slashers.
Notre Dame is not as athletic, but they are more skilled offensively. These dudes take care of the ball and can shoot. Luke Harangody, Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough can score in multiple ways.
The wildcard is Carleton Scott. He has stepped up without Harangody in the lineup and is ND's best bet to match up athletically with the Mountaineers' Ebanks and Butler. Scott is a bit foul prone, which will be compounded as he helps out on whoever is happening to blow by Harangody tonight.
West Virginia: 50
Notre Dame: 48
Please excoriate my analysis and leave your predictions in the comments section.