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 beat out by Jae Crowder for Player of the Year this week.
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 the South Florida Bulls. 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 USF, 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.
The Bulls beat up the Wildcats on two occasions this year, winning by 17 back in the first week of January on the road in Philadelphia and then sweeping the season series in mid-February with a 14-point win at home. Nova is a little healthier now and definitely comfortable with the MSG setting.
Wednesday's complete schedule below:
Second Round: Wednesday, March 7
For more news, analysis, and discussion of the Bulls' run to March Madness, check out Voodoo Five, SB Nation's USF 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.