Big East Tournament 2012: Louisville Defeats Cincinnati In Big East Final

WVU and Pitt were both knocked out of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday. Louisville and Cincinnati clashed Saturday night in the title game.

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Big East Tournament Championship Game 2012: Louisville Knocks Off Cincinnati To Claim Title

In a defensive struggle, Louisville knocked off Cincinnati 50-44 in Madison Square Garden to claim the Big East basketball championship.

Neither team played particularly well on offense and the ugly game was evident by the fact that each team shot under 40% on the game. But Louisville won this game largely in part to free throws. The Cardinals shot 11-12 from the stripe while the Bearcats went a horrific 1-7.

Louisville was also able to overcome 14 turnovers by outrebounding Cincinnati, 33-26, led by Gorgui Dieng’s ten.

Offense was sparse, and both teams’ benches had historically bad nights and neither side got even a single field goal from their backups. Cincinnati’s reserves went scoreless attempting only three shots while Louisville only had one bench player get into the scoring column – guard Russ Smith, who had only four points on free throws. But the Cardinals got just enough from its starters and were led by guards Chris Smith and Peyton Siva, who totaled 25.

For more on the Big East Tournament, check out SB Nation’s Big East blog, Big East Coast Bias.

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Big East Tournament 2012 Championship Game: Louisville, Cincinnati Will Clash At Madison Square Garden

The 2012 Big East Tournament Championship Game will feature two surprises, the No. 4 seed Cincinnati Bearcats and the No. 7 seed Louisville Cardinals. The two teams will square off Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. at the basketball mecca that is Madison Square Garden.

Cincinnati upset Syracuse 71-68 on Friday evening, handing the Orange just their second loss of the season. Louisville has knocked off the No. 2 seed Marquette and the No. 3 seed Notre Dame on their way to the title game.

These two teams met earlier in the season, with Cincinnati scoring a 60-56 win over Louisville. This is the Bearcats first ever appearance in the Big East Championship Game. Louisville won the tournament in 2009

Big East Championship Game: Saturday, March 10

9 p.m.: No. 4 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Louisville (ESPN)

For more on West Virginia, visit the Smoking Musket, and for more on the Pitt Panthers, visit Cardiac Hill. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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Big East Tournament 2012 Schedule And Reaction To Cincinnati's Upset Of Syracuse

After Cincinnati's upset of Syracuse in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament, the final will be the battle of the Ohio River, as Cincinnati faces nearby Louisville in the Big East Championship Saturday night (9:00 p.m., ESPN) in a surprising turn of events on Friday. Louisville beat Notre Dame 64-50 to advance, but the obvious story was Cincinnati knocking off top-seeded (and No. 2-ranked) Syracuse 71-68. The Bearcats had a huge first half, mounting a shocking 34-17 lead with after the first 15 minutes of play by piling up three-pointers, then ultimately holding on as Syracuse clawed its way back into the game.

Down The Drive, SB Nation's Cincinnati blog, is understandably ecstatic:

This team is magical. They haven't been magical for the entire year. Even the run after the brawl didn't feel like this. I don't know if this team is good enough to win a national title, or live up to the lofty history of those that came before them. But I do know this. I wouldn't trade this team for anyone. And I wouldn't trade anything about this season for anything. Without the low you can't have the high. And you can't get much higher than this. Unless UC finishes the deal tomorrow. That would be higher.

Louisville and Cincinnati aren't supposed to be the class of the Big East -- that was Syracuse and Marquette, both now gone -- but here we are. Cincinnati has now beaten Syracuse, Marquette and Georgetown in its last three games, and is now a force to be reckoned with despite dubious early-season losses to Presbyterian, Marshall and St. John's (not to mention its 23-point loss and brawl against Xavier). Louisville, meanwhile, knocked Marquette out of the tournament.

The outcome of the championship game doesn't have any grand implications, beyond bragging rights -- Louisville and Cincinnati are going to the NCAA Tournament regardless, and so are the teams they knocked out in the semifinals. But the Bearcats have become a big story, and Louisville has a big upset of its own to its credit.

For more on Big East basketball, check out Big East Coast Bias.

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Big East Basketball 2012: Day Four Tournament Game Times And TV Schedule

The Big East Tournament feels like it's already been going on for about a month and a half, but in actuality, we're still only at the semifinal stage. There are two games on Friday that will decide who will play for the conference crow Saturday night at MSG. Here is a quick breakdown of each matchup. Both games can be found on ESPN or online at ESPN3.

The first game is at 7 pm and features two teams that could be a little bit tired coming off of their games on Thursday. Syracuse needed a late comeback to knock off a surprisingly tough UConn team while Cincinnati needed two overtimes to dispatch Georgetown. Syracuse is the No. 2 team in the country and the top seed in this tournament, they should be the heavy favorite.

The second game is between Louisville and Notre Dame and it starts at 9 pm. Louisville upset Marquette on Thursday, one of the favorites in the conference tournament, while Notre Dame was able to get through the tough defensive effort of South Florida.

For more on the two teams, head over to West Virginia blog Smoking Musket and Pittsburgh Panthers blog Cardiac Hill. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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Big East Tournament 2012: Pitt Players Comment On Exit To Georgetown

After Pitt’s loss to Georgetown in the Big East Tournament on Wednesday, a few players spoke up, clearly disappointed. Starting small forward Lamar Patterson didn’t think the Panthers came to play:

“We played like a bunch of little boys out there,” he said.

“They beat us double-figures on the rebounds,” he said, “and that’s something we’ve never, ever, ever accept on this team.”

With the loss, Pitt’s chances of reaching the NCAAs disappeared. Senior guard Ashton Gibbs talked not only about the game, but the season, taking blame for the down year:

“I did a bad job of leading this year,” he said, “and it clearly showed.”

“I had high expectations of the team and high expectations of myself as well,” he said, “and it’s something I didn’t live up to as a senior leader.”

Gibbs certainly had a down season. But while he deserves some of the blame, as I wrote over at Cardiac Hill, others are responsible, too. All in all, a disappointing end to a disappointing season.

For more on Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation blog,Cardiac Hill.

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Big East Tournament 2012: Bob Huggins Presents His Case For WVU To Receive At Large Bid

When they met in the Big East Tournament on Wednesday both teams sat pretty squarely on the bubble. UConn ended up walking away with the win, but it was a close enough game that the loss shouldn't hurt the Mountaineers too much. After the game Bob Huggins and Jim Calhoun both lobbied the selection committee for at large spots in the NCAA tournament. Here is what Huggins had to say, via Ryan Fagan of the Sporting News.

"We've played more games against top 100 people than anybody in the country," Huggins said. "(The NCAA Selection Committee says) play a tough schedule, we have. We've played more games against top 50 teams. We've done everything they've asked us to do other than maybe win a couple (more) games. You all know that there were some — and several of those games there were some other factors that were involved. It wasn't just us. You know, you hope that the committee looks at that."

The loss to the Huskies certainly hurts the team and the fan base, but if the Mountaineers were in the tournament before their game yesterday, they shouldn't be left out because of it.

For more on the two teams, head over to West Virginia blog Smoking Musket and Pittsburgh Panthers blog Cardiac Hill. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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Big East Tournament 2012 Bracket Reactions

Both the Pittsburgh Panthers and the West Virginia Mountaineers were knocked out of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday, failing to make it out of the second round. The Mountaineers had a much tougher loss in the tournament, allowing Connecticut to rally back from being down at the half to win in overtime.

SB Nation's West Virginia blog The Smoking Musket reacts to the tough loss, mentioning how frustrating it is losing with a young team. The Mountaineers are a really young team, so it's a team that makes quite a bit of mental mistakes and panics when they shouldn't. Plus, according to head coach Bob Huggins, they have no idea what they're doing.

I honestly think a lot of the problem is youth. I know that can be a bit of a cop-out, especially when other teams are playing freshmen and when these guys have had 30+ games of really good college basketball under their belts. But the way the season has gone losing so many games at the end, you see players pucker up at the end of games and you wonder whether the close losses have gotten into their heads some. How else can you explain Gary Browne essentially presenting the ball on a silver platter to Shabazz Napier for a breakaway layup not once, but twice? And the inability of anyone to get---let alone make---a decent look at the basket in the closing minutes? You would think someone could figure out a way to manufacture some kind of points when we need them to close out a game. But instead, we just panic and throw up something totally awkward-looking with nobody in position to even get a rebound. It's baffling, it's frustrating, and it's disheartening, but that's the kind of team we have to live with.

Pitt on the the other hand didn't lose in quite the same frustrating fashion. The Panthers on the other hand trailed by nearly double-digits at halftime and then looked like they just gave up in the second half finally going down 64-52 to Georgetown. The folks over at Cardiac Hill can't seem to figure out why Pitt takes so many three-point shots, especially when they don't go in. In the game against the Hoyas, Pitt shot the ball 21 times from the three-point line, sinking just five of them.

This team's fascination with shooting three-pointers baffles me. Pitt has not been a team to shoot a bunch of long-range shots in years past, yet frequently, Pitt is attempting more than 20 s a game this season. It would be fine if they made some of them, but that's not been the case for even Ashton Gibbs - the guy who shot nearly 50% from that distance last season. Today was no different as Pitt went 5-21 from behind the arc.

West Virginia is still hopeful they'll get a bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday evening, but Pitt, on the other hand, can only hope for an NIT bid.

For more on the two teams, head over to West Virginia blog Smoking Musket and Pittsburgh Panthers blog Cardiac Hill. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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Big East Tournament 2012: Pitt, West Virginia Fail To Make Quarterfinals

The 2012 Big East Tournament will carry on Thursday with quarterfinal play, but the Pittsburgh Panthers and West Virginia Mountaineers will not be part of the action.

Pittsburgh fell 64-52 to Georgetown on Wednesday, ending a disappointing season for Jamie Dixon's squad. West Virginia squandered a late lead, eventually losing in overtime to UConn 71-67. Pitt's season may be over, as a NIT bid is in no way a certainty. West Virginia should be still be in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but did themselves no favors with Wednesday evening's collapse.

Here's the schedule and bracket for the rest of the 2012 Big East Tournament.

Quarterfinals: Thursday, March 8

Noon: No. 9 UConn vs. No. 1 Syracuse (ESPN)
2 p.m.: No. 5 Georgetown vs. No. 4 Cincinnati (ESPN)
7 p.m.: No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 2 Marquette (ESPN)
9 p.m.: No. 6 USF vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (ESPN)

Semifinals: Friday, March 9

7 p.m.: Winners of Thursday's noon and 2 p.m. games (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Winners of Thursday's 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. games (ESPN)

Championship: Saturday, March 10 at 9:00 PM (ESPN)

For more on Pitt, check out the Panthers blog Cardiac Hill. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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Big East Tournament 2012: Pitt's Season Ends With Ugly Loss To Georgetown

Any small chance that Pitt had of reaching the NCAA’s went down the drain with the team’s loss to Georgetown in the second round of the Big East Tournament.

The disappointing thing for Pitt was that they played fairly well for much of the first half, leading by six with about six minutes to play. Things quickly derailed, though, as the Hoyas took control with a huge 16-2 run to close the half. That stretch, more than any other, was perhaps the reason for Pitt’s downfall. Scoring only two points in that span really put the Panthers behind and the deficit was too much to make up.

The Panthers tried, though. They pulled to within two early in the second half after trailing by eight, but never got any closer. The lead grew with each missed Pitt shot and the Panthers were soundly defeated by a Georgetown team that they beat earlier this season.

Pitt had no answer for Henry Sims, who went for 20 points and 13 rebounds, but that was only part of the problem. The Panthers had yet another sub-40-percent game shooting the ball and equally disappointing was the fact that the bench didn’t show up at all. In 54 minutes of action, the reserves combined for a meager five points and five rebounds without tallying an assist. That’s a modest output for a single player, let alone an entire unit. Pitt’s bench has been far too inconsistent this season and Wednesday’s game was another example of that.

With the NCAA Tournament out of the picture, the Panthers will now sit and wait to see if they’ll be invited to the NIT. At only one game over .500 on the season, that’s no guarantee.

For more on Pitt and the game, check out SB Nation blog, Cardiac Hill.

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Pittsburgh Vs. Georgetown Final Score: Hoyas Advance With 64-52 Win

The Pittsburgh Panthers kept things competitive against the Georgetown Hoyas until the very end of the first half, but the final two minutes of the first half and the entirety of the second half were not kind to Pitt. The favored Hoyas played excellent defense and dominated Pittsburgh in all facets of the game as the contest wore on, eventually coasting to a 64-52 victory.

Henry Sims was the best performer between the two teams, scoring 20 points while leading the Hoyas in rebounds with 12 and assists with five. Georgetown's Otto Porter was the joint-leading scorer among all players with 20 points of his own. Ashton Gibbs led Pittsburgh with 14 points, but it was still a frustrating day for the Panthers star. In addition to being on the losing team, he shot just 4-of-14 from the floor and 2-of-8 from behind the three-point line.

Georgetown moves on to face Cincinnati in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon.

For more on the two teams, head over to Georgetown Hoyas blog Casual Hoya and Pittsburgh Panthers blog Cardiac Hill. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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Pittsburgh vs. Georgetown Halftime Score: Hoyas Close Half On 12-0 Run To Take Halftime Lead, 31-23

The Pittsburgh Panthers' season could be coming to a close as they currently trail the Georgetown Hoyas 31-23 at halftime in the second round of the Big East tournament. Guard Ashton Gibbs leads the scoring for the Panthers with nine points, but the Panthers are shooting just 27.8 percent from the field.

For the Hoyas, center Henry Sims has 11 points and eight rebounds in the first half, and the Hoyas are shooting 47.6 percent from the field. Forwards Otto Porter and Greg Whittington scored six points each in the half to help the Hoyas. The winner of this game would face Cincinnati in the quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon.

For more on the Panthers, visit Cardiac Hill, SB Nation's Pitt blog. For more on the Mountaineers, check The Smoking Musket, SB Nation's WVU blog. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the2012 Big East Tournament.

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West Virginia vs. Connecticut Final Score: Mountaineers Lose Lead, Fall In 71-67 In Overtime

The West Virginia Mountaineers let a nine-point lead with 4:20 remaining in the second half slip away and didn't make a field goal in overtime as they lost their second round Big East Tournament game to the Connecticut Huskies 71-67 on Wednesday afternoon.

The Huskies' comeback was led by Shabazz Napier, who scored 11 points in that span before fouling out in overtime. Napier finished the game with 26 points hitting 4 three-pointers. Jeremy Lamb also added 22 points with three three-pointers and 8 rebounds. Guard Ryan Boatright, with 10 points off the bench, hit the game-clinching free throw with 19 seconds remaining in overtime after missing three in a row.

For West Virginia, forward Kevin Jones scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Guard Darryl Bryant also added 20 points, hitting two three-pointers. Connecticut's accuracy played a big part in the finish of the game, shooting 49 percent from the field while West Virginia only shot 34.7 percent from the field.

The Huskies move on to the quarterfinals where they will play the top-seeded Syracuse Orange on Thursday afternoon.

For more on West Virginia basketball, check out The Smoking Musket.

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UConn Vs. WVU Score: West Virginia Up At Halftime In Big East Tournament Matchup

The West Virginia Mountaineers had a strong ending to the first half of their Big East Tournament game against UConn Wednesday afternoon, and they head to the locker room with a 30-26 lead.

As we might have guessed, Kevin Jones and Jeremy Lamb have led their respective teams so far, with Jones picking up 13 points and four rebounds and Lamb racking up 12 points.

The Huskies held small leads throughout much of the first half, but Jones’ scoring kept the game close. With UConn up by three with six minutes left in the half, Jones hit a three-pointer to tie it, then hit a layup after Shabazz Napier responded with a three of his own. After that, Dominique Rutledge, Gary Browne and Jones all hit baskets to end the half with WVU up by four.

This is a big game for both teams — the Mountaineers can solidify their standing as a clear NCAA Tournament team with a victory (although they’re probably in regardless), and the Huskies could find themselves on the bubble if they lose.

For more on West Virginia basketball, check out The Smoking Musket.

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Big East Tournament 2012: Georgetown Vs. Pittsburgh Time, TV Schedule, Bracket And More

A day after stopping St. John's to extend its season by at least one day, Pitt will play a familiar foe in the 2012 Big East Tournament. The Panthers meet Georgetown in a second round game at 2 p.m. Eastern, renewing a rivalry that is likely to end when the Panthers depart for the ACC.

The Panthers, the No. 13 seed in the Big East, knocked off the fifth-seeded Hoyas, 72-60, in the teams' only meeting of this season in January. Pitt will be trying to keep its slim 2012 NCAA Tournament hopes alive against Georgetown: the Panthers are certain to fall short of March Madness unless they can win the Big East Tournament.

Here's the TV schedule for Pitt's game against Georgetown and the TV schedule and bracket for the rest of the 2012 Big East Tournament.

Second Round: Wednesday, March 7

Noon: No. 9 UConn vs. No. 8 West Virginia (ESPN)
2 p.m.: No. 13 Pitt vs. No. 5 Georgetown (ESPN)
7 p.m.: No. 10 Seton Hall vs. No. 7 Louisville (ESPN)
9 p.m.: No. 14 Villanova vs. No. 6 South Florida (ESPN)

Quarterfinals: Thursday, March 8

Noon: UConn/West Virginia winner vs. No. 1 Syracuse (ESPN)
2 p.m.: Pitt/Georgetown winner vs. No. 4 Cincinnati (ESPN)
7 p.m.: Seton Hall/Louisville winner vs. No. 2 Marquette (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Villanova/USF winner vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (ESPN)

Semifinals: Friday, March 9

7 p.m.: Winners of Thursday's noon and 2 p.m. games (ESPN)
9 p.m.: Winners of Thursday's 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. games (ESPN)

Championship: Saturday, March 10 at 9:00 PM (ESPN)

For more on the Panthers, head to Cardiac Hill. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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Big East Tournament 2012: West Virginia Faces Former Commit Ryan Boatright Of UConn

The West Virginia Mountaineers got a first round bye in the Big East Tournament and will face another team looking to secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament when they face UConn on Wednesday. But there is an additional storyline in that game, and that's Ryan Boatright, the freshman point guard for the Huskies who was committed to play at West Virginia once upon a time. According to Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail, Bob Huggins doesn't harbor any hard feelings, but it doesn't look like he is totally pleased with how things turned out.

Huggins called Boatright "very talented" Tuesday and didn't want to talk much about a player he still likes and respects, but he did say that players "don't commit and then say you're going to take other visits. That's not a very strong commitment."

Boatright has become a very important part of the UConn attack this year, becoming their secondary ball handler and third leading scorer. He is an offensive sparkplug who coach Jim Calhoun likes to use when the offense gets bogged down. The Mountaineers will have to contain him, along with the other scoring guards for Connecticut, if they want to advance.

For more on the Panthers, visit Cardiac Hill, SB Nation's Pitt blog. For more on the Mountaineers, check The Smoking Musket, SB Nation's WVU blog. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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Big East Tournament 2012: Mountaineers Begin Final Big East Tournament

Well, it's all come down to this, the first of two one and done tournaments which will go a long way towards whether or not Mountaineer fans consider this to have been a successful season. Here's what I'll be watching as I try and act like I'm working:

  • Extra motivation? There has been plenty talk coming out of the Mountaineer locker room about both real and perceived snubs in the Big East postseason awards. Truck Bryant thinks he should have been higher than third team all conference, which is debatable. Kevin Jones deserved both a unanimous first team selection AND the conference player of the year, both of which went to Marquette's Jay Crowder. That's a travesty. So there's plenty of talk about respect amongst the Mountaineers right now, the just may be motivated enough to go out and earn some.
  • Can Truck lead the way? Truck is the key player. Kevin Jones will be Kevin Jones. The freshmen will be freshmen. As Truck goes, go the Mountaineers. He's played well in the last two contests, and hopefully that's the sign of an impending hot streak to come. If the senior guard can turn it on, there could be a lot more Mountaineer games in the next few weeks. If he can't, it'll be one and done... twice.
  • Who holds the paint? Obviously, Jones is a huge part of the equation inside for the Mountaineers but he can't do it alone. For the Mountaineers to back down the Huskies, both Deniz Kilicli and Dominique Rutledge will have to play well for WVU. Rutledge has turned it on in the last few weeks, but Kilicli has been heading in the opposite direction. If they can get a decent balance of scoring, defense and rebounding out of those two, the Mountaineers should have success today.
For more on the West Virginia Mountianeers, stay tuned to SBNation Pittsburgh and the Smoking Musket.
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Big East Tournament 2012: Panthers Using Prior Win As Motivation Against Georgetown

The Pitt Panthers did not have the season that many envisioned for them, but they still have a good chance to make a splash in the Big East Tournament this week, and they got off to a good start with a win over St. John's on Tuesday. They'll face a tough Georgetown team on Wednesday that got the benefit of a first round bye. The Panthers beat the Hoyas in the regular season, and according to John Grupp of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pitt is expecting a motivated Georgetown squad.

"I'm sure they are going to remember that we beat them and they are going to come out hard, just like St. John's did," point guard Tray Woodall said. "We've just got to be ready for them."

The game in question came just about six weeks ago on Jan. 28, a 72-60 home win for the Panthers. Nasir Robinson was the star of the game, going 9-9 from the field for 23 points. The big story might have been that Pitt had 20 assists on 25 made shots, meaning that their ball movement got them efficient shots. They shot over 52% from the field in that game. They might need to replicate that kind of performance if they want to knock Georgetown off on neutral ground. Luckily, coach Jaime Dixon believes in his guys.

"I tell our guys that I believe our best basketball is in our next game here," Dixon said. "We did some good things (against St. John's). I think we can be a better team (against Georgetown), and I believe that's what you want to be."

For more on the Panthers, visit Cardiac Hill, SB Nation's Pitt blog. For more on the Mountaineers, check The Smoking Musket, SB Nation's WVU blog. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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Big East Basketball 2012: Day Two Tournament Game Times And TV Schedule

The bottom eight teams of the Big East completed the first round of tournament play on Tuesday with four double-digit blowouts. Connecticut tipped off their quest to repeat with an 81-67 drubbing of lowly DePaul. The Huskies move on to play fellow bubble-dweller West Virginia on Wednesday at Noon. The Mountaineers and New York-area favorite Kevin Jones enter with extra motivation, after Jones was not unanimously selected to the First Team All-Conference and was beaten out by Jae Crowder for Player of the Year this week.

The Mountaineers finished one game better than the Huskies this season in the conference standings. In their only matchup of the season, UConn defeated WVU by seven in Hartford. The Huskies have had great success at the Garden, and are particularly dangerous after the return of head coach Jim Calhoun this past weekend. Stud wing Jeremy Lamb went off against DePaul for 25 points - the same amount he had in the Huskies comeback win over the 'Eers earlier this season.

The Georgetown Hoyas will make their tournament debut in the second game of the day, scheduled to tip off around 2:00 pm against the Pitt Panthers. The Hoyas lost their shot at a double bye when they lost by double digits this past weekend against Marquette. Pitt, which was ranked in the top ten in both polls at one point, had their season go completely off the rails and finished 5-13 in the conference.

The Panthers looked good on Tuesday, cruising to a 14-point win over St. John's - their second convincing win over the Johnnies in a week. Despite their record and No. 13 seed, the Panthers are always dangerous in the tournament at MSG, particularly with all-conference guard Ashton Gibbs leading the way.

The night session will feature two more bubble teams in Seton Hall and South Florida. The Hall absolutely demolished Providence on Tuesday night, and bounced back nicely after two straight losses to end the season, including an embarrassing blowout at DePaul. Herb Pope, who did not play against DePaul, returned against the Friars and led the Pirates with 16 points. They will face No. 7 seed Louisville, who is safely in the tournament at 22-9 overall.

The final game of the night will match up Villanova and South Florida, who's on the bubble despite their 12-6 record in the conference. South Florida needs a win to secure their spot, which could be harder than they imagined after Nova crushed Rutgers on Tuesday in impressive fashion. Maalik Wayns led the Wildcats with 28 points, as Jay Wright's club exploded for 40 second-half points.

Wednesday's complete schedule below:

Second Round: Wednesday, March 7

Noon: No. 9 Connecticut vs. No. 8 West Virginia (ESPN)
2 p.m.: No. 13 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Georgetown (ESPN)
7 p.m.: No. 10 Seton Hall vs. No. 7 Louisville (ESPN)
9 p.m.: No. 14 Villanova vs. No. 6 South Florida (ESPN)

Big_east_bracket_medium

For more on the Panthers, visit Cardiac Hill, SB Nation's Pitt blog. For more on the Mountaineers, check The Smoking Musket, SB Nation's WVU blog. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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2012 Big East Tournament: Ashton Gibbs And Nasir Robinson Get First Tourney Win

Somewhat lost in the hoopla of Pitt’s win against St. John’s on Tuesday is that seniors Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson secured their first ever win in the Big East Tournament.

For all of their success over the past three seasons, the Panthers have had a hard time in the tournament in recent years, losing their first game in each of the past three seasons. Pitt has, of course, had byes in those seasons as the result of finishing near the top of the Big East. But for two seniors with 100 career wins, it’s still a bit surprising that the duo was 0-3 in the conference tournament during the careers.

It’s hard to say how that bodes for the team going forward. Pitt was able to win on Tuesday, but for a team comprised of players with no experience winning Big East Tournament games heading into that game, it’s hard to see them rattling off five straight victories.

For more on Pitt basketball and the game against St. John’s, check out SB Nation blog, Cardiac Hill.

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2012 Big East Tournament: Pitt Takes On Georgetown In Second Round

After a fairly easy win against St. John’s on Tuesday, things are about to ramp up for Pitt. The Panthers are ‘rewarded’ with a second-round game against Georgetown on Wednesday afternoon. Ranked No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, the Hoyas will provide a stiff test for Pitt who hopes to advance to the third day of the tournament.

The good news for Pitt is that they had some success against Georgetown earlier this season, winning 72-60 at the Pete. In that game, the frontcourt dominated the Hoyas and Nasir Robinson had one of his best games of the season with 23 points and eight rebounds. The Panthers were more aggressive on the glass and won the rebounding battle 33-22.

Another key to their success was that they not only got to the free throw line, but excelled there. They made 19 of their 22 attempts compared to Georgetown who only had 12 shots from the stripe. More rebounds and more free throw attempts? That all adds up to playing aggressive and if Pitt’s going to win this game, that’s what they need to do.

This time around, Pitt will be hard pressed to get 41 points from Robinson and Lamar Patterson (who added 18). So they’ll likely need some sizable contributions elsewhere. One such source may be J.J. Moore. Moore had eight points against the Red Storm and went on a hot streak, averaging nearly 16 over the Panthers’ last five regular season games.

For more on the game and Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation blog Cardiac Hill.

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2012 Big East Tournament Scores: Pitt Defeats St. John's Behind Seniors Ashton Gibbs And Nasir Robinson

Pitt easily defeated St. John’s in their opener 73-59 and did so behind the play of their seniors, Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson.

Gibbs, who has been inconsistent all season, stepped up big time in scoring 20 points. He made only five of his 14 shots, but made all six of his free throws and didn’t turn the ball over once. Robinson chipped in with 15 and also led the Panthers in rebounding with eight boards. He, too, limited his turnovers and had only one on the afternoon.

St. John’s held the rebounding edge, 38-35, but couldn’t get anything going offensively. The Red Storm limited their turnovers fairly well, but couldn’t hit many shots all afternoon.

The team also had good production from bench players John Johnson and J.J. Moore. The duo combined for 16 points and five rebounds. But one area they need more production is from point guard Tray Woodall. Woodall’s been struggling a bit and had a whopping six turnovers today. He also shot only 1-5 from the field and other than his six assists, contributed little. If Pitt has any thoughts of shocking the world and winning the tournament, Woodall needs to do more.

Without a bye, Pitt’s one win is a long way from winning the Big East Tournament. But if the Panthers are going to find a way to make a run, they’ll need both of their seniors to make big time contributions. Gibbs and Robinson did that today and will try to do so again in the contest against Georgetown tomorrow afternoon.

For more on the game and Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation blog, Cardiac Hill
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Pitt Vs. St. John's Final Score: Panthers Move On After 73-59 Victory

The Pitt Panthers were able to escape the first round of the 2012 Big East Tournament, defeating the St. John's Red Storm 73-59 at Madison Square Garden Tuesday afternoon.

Led by Ashton Gibbs' 20 points, and a stout defensive effort, the Panthers took control of the game early and never relinquished it. Nasir Robinson also put in a solid performance, scoring 15 points while shooting 7-of-10 from the floor.

The Red Storm struggled mightily from the floor, shooting just 33.3 percent. Their woes could be characterized by the play of forward Gods'gift Achiuwa who made just one of the 10 shots he took in the game. Moe Harkless led all scorers with 25 points, however he received little help from his teammates.

Pitt will now face the Georgetown Hoyas in the second round tomorrow. Tip off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

For more on the Pitt Panthers and the Big East Tournament, make sure to visit Cardiac Hill.

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Pitt Vs. St. John's Score: Ashton Gibbs Helps Panthers To Halftime Lead In Big East Tournament

At halftime in the first round of the Big East Tournament, Pitt leads St. John’s by a score of 33-28.

Ashton Gibbs leads the Panthers in scoring, thanks to hitting three of his seven shots from behind the three-point line. (That includes Pitt’s first two baskets of the game.) Lamar Patterson and John Johnson each have five points apiece.

Moe Harkless has had an excellent first half to lead the Red Storm, going 5-of-7 with 13 points and grabbing four rebounds. Harkless got hot with about eight minutes left in the half, at one point scoring eight of 10 St. John’s points and hitting a layup with five minutes left in the half that put the Panthers down six. Gibbs then hit a three and a jumper to cut the lead to one, however, and the Panthers controlled the rest of the half.

More Big East Tournament coverage: Big East Coast Bias

The Panthers shot 15 three-pointers so far, and are leading largely because they’ve hit five of them. They’re vulnerable if they keep doing this and they run into a cold streak in the second half. Of course, given how badly they’ve played against the Big East this year, they have little left to lose.

For more on Pitt basketball, check out Cardiac Hill.

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Big East Tournament Scores: UConn Knocks Off DePaul, Will Face WVU

The Connecticut Huskies defeated the DePaul Blue Demons 81-67 in the Big East Tournament Tuesday afternoon, setting up a second-round matchup against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

UConn’s win was expected, as DePaul was the Big East’s worst team. Jeremy Lamb had 25 points for the Huskies, and Ryan Boatright contributed 19 points off the bench. Cleveland Melvin and Moses Morgan had 19 points each for the Blue Demons.

The UConn/WVU matchup will take place at noon on Wednesday and will be broadcast on ESPN. The two teams last played January 9, when the Huskies beat the Mountaineers 64-57. Since then, though, UConn has struggled against Big East competition, going 4-9 before recent wins against Pitt and now DePaul.

Next up in the Big East Tournament is Pitt’s matchup against St. John’s.

For more on the Big East Tournament, check out Big East Coast Bias. For more on WVU basketball, there’s The Smoking Musket.

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Big East Tournament 2012 Preview: Syracuse An Obvious Favorite, But Watch Out For Marquette

Over at SBNation.com, Bill Connelly has a nice preview of the Big East Tournament, which kicks off on Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, Connelly thinks Syracuse is most likely to win the tournament, but Marquette and Notre Dame have shots as well.

Since losing four of six in late-December and early-January, Buzz Williams' squad has been, at worst, nearly as good as Syracuse. And with The Cuse dealing with another potential distraction, this could possibly give Marquette the nod. And, of course, one should not forget Notre Dame. The third seed fell off a bit in the last week or so; the Irish lost at St. John's (by three) and Georgetown (by 18) and barely held off Providence at home, but they are not that far removed from a fantastic nine-game win streak.

Connelly has 10 Big East teams making the NCAA Tournament, including West Virginia, although he notes that even Cincinnati, which has a better March Madness case, will need a strong Big East Tournament performance to avoid a No. 7 to No. 10 seed. The Mountaineers would also really benefit from a strong Big East Tournament run, but that might be tough, since even if they beat the UConn/DePaul winner on Wednesday, they'll have to take on Syracuse on Thursday.

Pitt faces St. John's on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.

For more on the Big East Tournament, check out Big East Coast Bias.

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Big East Basketball 2012: Day One Tournament Game Times And TV Schedule

The Big East tournament tips off on Tuesday, with the bottom eight teams of the conference getting action underway beginning at Noon. The Pitt Panthers will need to win five games in five days to make the big dance - a feat only accomplished by UConn, just one year ago. The Panthers will play St. John's in the second game of the day, scheduled for tip around 2:00 pm. Pitt crushed the Johnnies by twenty points less than a week ago. If they win, they will face the Georgetown Hoyas on Wednesday at the same time.

There are two bubble teams playing that are in desperate need of a win to bolster their resume. The Connecticut Huskies open the tournament with a matchup against last-place DePaul at Noon. While the Huskies' season spiraled downward during the month of February, they received a huge boost this weekend with the return of head coach Jim Calhoun. SB Nation bracketologist Chris Dobbertean currently has UConn safely in the tournament as a ten seed. It was just one year ago that Calhoun rode Kemba Walker to the Big East Tournament Title, winning five games in five days. The near impossible quest to repeat that will begin Tuesday.

West Virginia fans will want to pay close attention to the first game of the day, as the 'Eers will face the winner of the DePaul and UConn game. SB Nation bracketology currently has WVU safely in the tourney as a ten seed, but a win or two in New York should help lock up a invitation to the dance.

The other bubble team in action on Tuesday is Seton Hall. Many felt the Pirates had punched their ticket to the dance with their convincing win over Georgetown but Kevin Willard's club then went on to lose their final two games to lowly Rutgers and DePaul. The Pirates were blown out by DePaul by thirty on Saturday, putting their dancing hopes in doubt. Dobbertean still has the Hall in the dance, slotted as a No. 12 seed and avoiding the play-in round. They will face Providence to tip off the night session at Madison Square Garden.

Tuesday's complete schedule and the full bracket below:

Noon: No. 16 DePaul vs. No. 9 Connecticut (ESPN2)
2 p.m.: No. 13 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 St. John's (ESPN2)
7 p.m.: No. 15 Providence vs. No. 10 Seton Hall (ESPNU)
9 p.m.: No. 14 Villanova vs. No. 11 Rutgers (ESPNU)

Big_east_bracket_medium

For more on the Panthers, visit Cardiac Hill, SB Nation's Pitt blog. For more on the Mountaineers, check The Smoking Musket, SB Nation's WVU blog. For all your Big East news during championship week, check out Big East Coast Bias. Click here for more on the 2012 Big East Tournament.

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Marquette's Jae Crowder Beats Out West Virginia's Kevin Jones For Big East Player Of The Year, According To Report

According to reports, Marquette's Jae Crowder has been named the Big East Player of the Year, beating out Kevin Jones, who was a favorite to win the award for much of the season.

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Pitt Vs. St. John's: Could Traps Await Panthers In First-Round Game Against Red Storm?

Pitt will kick off their postseason with a first-round game against St. John’s in the Big East Tournament on Tuesday. In the Red Storm, they’ll face a familiar foe as the two teams squared off less than a week ago. Pitt came away with a lopsided win in that one, but the Panthers played one of their best games of the year and it was a home contest.

At first glance, Pitt appears to be in the driver's seat. They’re a more veteran team and have much more experience playing in the Big East Tournament than the freshman-dominated team of St. John’s. Eight of the Red Storm’s 11 players are freshmen and most of the team will be playing their first-ever Big East Tournament game.

All of that said, while Pitt has proved they can beat St. John’s, there are some potential pitfalls.

The game is at Madison Square Garden. While the Panthers are familiar with that site, St. John’s is even more so, having played home contests there. As well as Pitt is used to the court and the feel of the arena, the Red Storm should feel more comfortable there.

In addition, with the game in New York, St. John’s could have a significant home-court advantage when it comes to the fans. Pitt fans have always traveled well there, but it’s hard to believe they’ll have more fans than the Red Storm will.

And with a losing record, the Red Storm have virtually no chance to play in a postseason tournament. As lackluster as the NIT may seem, Pitt could be playing there with a win against St. John’s. You can also be sure that, however unlikely it may be, Pitt is still hoping to win an NCAA Tournament berth by winning five games in a row. The Panthers have more to play for and because of that, should feel a bit more pressure. Add it all up and the Red Storm will come out with nothing to lose while Pitt might be a bit tight – especially if shots don’t fall early.

I don’t expect Pitt to lose this game, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that this season. The Panthers should come out with a win, but with the way the season has gone, there are no guarantees.

For more on Pitt basketball and the game, check out SB Nation blog, Cardiac Hill.

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Big East Tournament 2012: Schedule, Bracket, TV Coverage And More

Now that the entire regular season is complete, here's a look at the bracket for the 2012 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament. Thanks to WVU's win over South Florida and Seton Hall's loss to lowly DePaul on Saturday, the Mountaineers have a first-round bye.

First Round: Tuesday, March 6

Noon No. 16 DePaul vs. No. 9 Connecticut (ESPN2)
2:00 PM No. 13 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 St. John's (ESPN2)
7:00 PM No. 15 Providence vs. No. 10 Seton Hall (ESPNU)
9:00 PM No. 14 Villanova vs. No. 11 Rutgers (ESPNU)

Second Round: Wednesday, March 7

Noon Depaul/UConn vs. No. 8 West Virginia (ESPN)
2:00 PM Pitt/St. John's vs. No. 5 Georgetown (ESPN)
7:00 PM Providence/Seton Hall vs. No. 7 Louisville (ESPN)
9:00 PM Villanova/Rutgers vs. No. 6 USF (ESPN)

Quarterfinals: Thursday, March 8

Noon Depaul/UConn/West Virginia vs. No. 1 Syracuse (ESPN)
2:00 PM Pitt/St. John's/Georgetown vs. No. 4 Cincinnati (ESPN)
7:00 PM Providence/Seton Hall/Louisville vs. No. 2 Marquette (ESPN)
9:00 PM Villanova/Rutgers/USF vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (ESPN)

Semifinals: Friday, March 9

7:00 PM Winners of Thursday's noon and 2:00 games (ESPN)
9:00 PM Winners of Thursday's 7:00 and 9:00 games (ESPN)

Championship: Saturday, March 10 at 9:00 PM (ESPN)

It's not the greatest draw for WVU, obviously, as chances are the Mountaineeers will have to take on Jeremy Lamb and UConn in the second round and, if they survive, Syracuse in the quarterfinals. But at least they don't have to play a first-round game.

Pitt's only prayer of making the NCAA Tournament is to do very, very well here, but that will be very hard to do, as they'll have to face Georgetown in the second round even if they beat St. John's in the first.

A link to a printable bracket for the Big East Tournament can be found here.

For more on Big East basketball, check out Big East Coast Bias.

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Big East Basketball Standings 2012: Thanks To Seton Hall Loss, WVU Gets First-Round Bye

Now that all the regular-season games are over, here are the final Big East Basketball Standings. Seton Hall's embarrassing 86-58 loss to Big East cellar-dwellers DePaul on Saturday night was good for WVU, which snuck into the No. 8 spot in the conference as a result. Pitt, meanwhile, finished a disappointing 13th.

No. 2 Syracuse 17-1 30-1
No. 7 Marquette 14-4 25-6
No. 19 Notre Dame 13-5 21-10
No. 12 Georgetown 12-6 22-7
Cincinnati 12-6 22-9
South Florida 12-6 19-12
No. 18 Louisville 10-8 22-9
West Virginia 9-9 19-12
Seton Hall 8-10 19-11
Connecticut 8-10 18-12
Rutgers 6-12 14-17
St. John's 6-12 13-18
Pittsburgh 5-13 16-15
Villanova 5-13 12-18
Providence 4-14 15-16
DePaul 3-15 12-18

Because it now has the No. 8 seed, WVU will get a first-round bye and will play the winner of DePaul vs. UConn on Wednesday, March 7. Meanwhile, Pitt will take on St. John's in the first round.

For more on Big East basketball, check out Big East Coast Bias. For West Virginia sports, there's The Smoking Musket, and for Pitt, there's Cardiac Hill.

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Big East Basketball Standings 2012: Pitt Floundering, West Virginia On NCAA Tournament Bubble

Pitt will need a miracle to make the NCAA Tournament, while WVU is currently on the bubble.

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