By Adam McGill
The Big East conference started with more teams in the tournament then any other conference in the nation and surprisingly still has four teams in the Sweet 16. Below are some of the top storylines in the conference heading into the Sweet 16:
1. Why Marquette will beat Florida?
Marquette is one of the hottest team’s playing right now. Marquette has outscored their competition so far 150- 121, and has yet to play a competitive half of basketball throughout the tournament so far. The Golden Eagles will be relying on their offensive leaders, Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson Odom, who are averaging over 35 combined points per game. Florida is lead by Kenny Boyton and freshman sharpshooter Bradley Beal, who quickly made an impression in the SEC. The Gators are very guard-heavy, so there is potential for a very lopsided battle in the paint. Florida will have problems penetrating all game against the strong interior of Marquette, so all MU has to do is to continue to take smart shots.
2. How much further can Syracuse go without Fab Melo?
Syracuse has looked flawless so far without their leading rebounder Fab Melo, but that can only last so long. They have continued to play extremely strong, despite suffering their second huge blow to their Championship chances, the first being the accusations coming against the team’s associate coach, Bernie Fine. Cuse still received their number one ranking before the NCAA received the news that Melo was to be suspended for the whole tournament, so it almost seems like they should have been dropped down a couple spots. Many critics have been waiting for the number one seeded Orange to stumble and it is honestly only a matter of time. They can only rely on their bench for so long, because eventually they will meet a team that they just can not get past in the paint.
3. Can Louisville contain Draymond Green?
The Spartans are playing extremely well right now, and are one of the most physically imposing team in the nation. They love to wear down defenses with their brutish nature, lead by senior small forward, Draymond Green. Green is having a career season by averaging 16.1 points and 10 rebounds per game and will be impossible to the Cardinals to cover. Louisville will have to double Green with forward Chane Behanan and center Gorgui Dieng anytime he gets the ball down low, but it will only be a matter of time until Big Ten Player of the Year candidate starts knocking some shots down.
4. Who will score more points in the Marquette and Florida game?
The game features four of the best scorers in the nation in Darius Johnson Odom (18.5), Jae Crowder (17.4), Kenny Boyton (16.3), and Bradley Beal (14.6). Most tournament games come down to which star player can have the biggest impact and this game is a prime example of that.
5. Can the Cincinnati Bobcats even contend with Ohio State?
Most people are already penciling in Ohio State into their elite eight, but they still have to get past those pesky Bearcats. Cincinnati is ran by an array of young guards; including Sean Kilpatrick, Dion Dixon, and Cashmere Wright. Cincy loves to have fast, elusive guards run their back-court, while being anchored by an athletic, beast in the middle. Cincy’s big man this year is forward Yancy Gates, who plays with a Kevin Garnett-type mean streak. Gates will be marked up on OSU star, Jared Sullinger, in what will be a very psychical battle. Cincinnati is much faster than Ohio State and a better all-around defense team, so there is always room for an upset.