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
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.