It's sometimes easy to forget, especially earlier this year when things weren't looking as rosy, that West Virginia are the reigning Big East Tournament Champions. It's a title we'll begin to defend beginning Wednesday at 9 pm against the winner of Marquette and Providence.
Considering only the first game, it's certainly a decent match-up for the Mountaineers. Sure, Marquette is a team that beat us much earlier in the season, but they haven't exactly lit the world on fire since. Even with that early season loss, it would be a game that the Mountaineers would be favored by a likely 5-6 points. Providence, on the other hand, is a question mark. You can make easy deductions from their resume, in that they have one spectacular player (Marshon Brooks, averaging near 25 points per game) and not much else,
but when you haven't played a team during the season, there is still some mystery surrounding such a match-up (ed. this is what happens when you combine traveling for work and crystal meth, you forget an entire game). Even if it is Providence.
But it's the road past that first game that gets even more intriguing.
If you look at the bracket as a whole, West Virginia has drawn quite the favorable setup.
First, if we keep winning, we're featured as the marquee game each night at 9 pm. That means a great slot on ESPN or ESPN2, better crowds, and overall more national attention. That's always a good thing. Beyond that, the teams we're set to play could lead to a good run.
We've already looked at both Marquette and Providence (quickly, at least -- we'll preview more once we know the actual opponent), but waiting in the next round is Louisville, a team we know we can beat. There have been fluky endings to both games, with Louisville stealing the game in Kentucky and WVU stealing the game in Morgantown. Still, it's a team and a game that is definitely winnable.
If you want to get your telescopes out and look even further ahead, the next opponent is most likely Notre Dame (or Cincinnati, Villanova, or USF). As you'll remember, Notre Dame went down by 14 in the Coliseum on February 19. While we've had trouble with Notre Dame in the past, the earlier win this season coupled with the game taking place in Madison Square Garden (our home away from home) makes this another winnable game.
That leads us to the Final, which I have to assume is going to involve Pitt from the other side of the bracket. It's a tough game, but if we make it that far, I like our chances in any type of one-off match-up against our biggest rival. It's also tough to beat a team three times in a season.
Again, I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, as I could very easily see us losing our first game as opposed to winning the whole damn thing. But, as you can see, if we don't lose our first game, things could shape up very well for us in each of the following rounds.
And if I know one thing, if one Big East Tournament Championship is nice, repeating in the toughest conference tournament in college basketball history would be even nicer. Buckle up.
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