Men’s sweet sixteen equals Big East

James Evans

Entering into this weekend’s tournament, three things are certain: the one seeds, though tested, have all survived the scary first two rounds, 10th seeded Auburn and 12th seeded Butler are wearing the Cinderella slippers and the Big East is showing the nation what most of us already knew, that it is the best conference out there.

As we enter the round of 16, the Big East is beaming proud with a record of 8-0 and all of its four teams have solid chances to advance to the final four.

In the Midwest bracket Pittsburgh plays No. 3 seed Marquette. Marquette has had a shaky tournament so far. In the first round, they barely escaped with a three-point win over No. 14 seed Holy Cross. They followed up by blowing a double-digit lead against an underachieving Missouri team, but were able to hold on in overtime. Though Marquette sometimes looks like a potential Final Four team, if Pittsburgh keeps on playing the way it has, it should have no trouble advancing to the Elite Eight. This is where there could be trouble, as the Panthers will most likely face Kentucky. Kentucky is by far and away the hottest team in the tournament as they are on a 25 game winning streak and have not lost this year.

In the West bracket Notre Dame has the toughest road to a Final Four appearance. In its first game it takes on Arizona, many experts pick to win the tournament. However, Gonzaga took Arizona to the brink, only losing by one in a double overtime game. If Arizona was to falter and Notre Dame was to receive the luck of the Irish, it would then play either Duke or Kansas for a berth in the Final Four. After close first round wins, both teams regrouped and had convincing second round wins, however, both have stumbled at times this year, look for Notre Dame to take advantage of that.

In the South bracket UConn is scheduled to meet Texas in the third round. UConn is coming off a huge win against Stanford, a tight game, in which the Huskies relied heavily on center Emeka Okafor and guard Ben Gordon.

Texas, also played a close game against Purdue, never really opening a big lead, but never being challenged at the same time. This game will feature a match-up at point guard position. Texas’s T.J. Ford is one of the best in the nation, as he leads his team in scoring and has the ability to drive and find the open man. The Huskies’ have Taliek Brown, a speedy point guard who has the ability to drive the distance of the court and score. So where is the mismatch? At the center position. The Huskies’ Okafor is the best defensive player in the game. Along with his ability to block shots is his ability to score in the post. Okafor has fine-tuned his game since his freshman year to make him a threat on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball. If the Huskies were to advance they would take on either Maryland or Michigan State.

In the East bracket, or the upset bracket, Syracuse takes on Cinderella Auburn. Auburn, a team many people did not believe earned its at-large bid, has proved them wrong advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. However, when they travel to Albany, N.Y. the clock might read 9:40 p.m., but really it’s going to be striking midnight, because this fairly tale will have come to an end. Syracuse is playing too well right now, and with the location making it practically a home game for Syracuse, look for the Orangemen to take it. In the next round, Syracuse will most likely take on Oklahoma, as the Sooners will most likely have ended Butler’s fairy-tale as well. Here is where Syracuse’s freshmen dreams might come to an end, as Oklahoma is the bigger and stronger team.

No matter the end result of this weekend’s games, there will only be one thing for certain: once again nobody will have been able to pick the perfect bracket.