Wednesday feels the like real start of the Big East tournament. Before the league went to allowing 16 teams into the field a few years ago, the league championship always began on Wednesday. Now the better teams are playing and subsequently the matchups are more enticing/watchable. After a brutal Tuesday that featured four blowouts, here's what Wednesday's table setting looks like.
Connecticut (8) vs. West Virgina (9): Who needs it more? Since the Huskies have been inconsistent and unable to win three games in a row in 2012, Wednesday's game presents that opportunity. Many believe UConn's sputtered its way into the NCAAs regardless, but this victory would lock it up. And if that happened, how do we evaluate WVU? The Mountaineers don't have a lot of good wins on their schedule. If they lost here, are they in trouble? When you look at WVU, you see the microcosm of this year's Big East. Decent team, but nothing too amazing, and overall you're left questioning just how legitimate it is.
Georgetown (5) vs. Pittsburgh (13): Anyone else thinking Pittsburgh takes this? Georgetown's a good team, a sturdy team, but also a very beatable team. The Hoyas have been under the radar for most of the year after getting in that massive brawl in China last August. If the Hoyas win, you might see another story or two about that crop up and how it "brought the team closer together." Could be true, but playing in March has little residual effect from something in August, right? Pitt looked very good Tuesday night in its no-bones-about-it win over St. John's. Wouldn't it be so Big East tournament-like if the Panthers not only won this game, but made a run to the semis? I could see it happening.
Louisville (7) vs. Seton Hall (10): The 7 p.m. Wednesday night tip has a lot of drama behind it. Rick Pitino was Kevin Willard's mentor/boss for a decade. Now Willard and his team needs a clinching win over Louisville to ensure itself of a bid. Getting it in this spot will be tough -- but maybe not as tough as it seems, purely from a basketball standpoint. The Pirates' Jordan Theodore is the best guard on the floor, and Louisville has dropped three of its past five. Earlier this season, the Cardinals beat the Pirates, 60-51.
South Florida (6) vs. Villanova (14): Now this is interesting if you consider: What if South Florida loses? It won 12 Big East games, but it did it against the statistically weakest schedule in the league. It lacks a lot of good wins. If it loses its first Big East tournament game? We'll have a very interesting test case on our hands. No Big East team with 12 wins has ever been left out of the NCAAs. And even though Villanova is down this season, I still trust Jay Wright's team to handle itself and give full effort at this time of the year.
-- Matt Norlander