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Oracle Insight: Previewing the Big East Tournament

A school-best 12-win season in the Big East carried the USF men’s basketball team to a bye into the second round of the Big East tournament. However, the first round begins tonight. The Oracle takes a look at the four first-round games to be played in New York City.

Game 1

16th seed DePaul vs.

9th seed Connecticut

Tip off: noon on ESPN2

Previous Meeting: Feb. 15, UConn 80, DePaul 54


Defending national champions UConn suffered a disappointing conference season after the loss of star point guard Kemba Walker. The Huskies were ranked ninth when they came to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on December 28th and escaped with a 60-57 victory over USF. After the win, the Huskies went 7-10 in Big East play for the remainder of the season. They enter the postseason tournament as the only first round team that did not lose to the Bulls.


Game 2

13th seed Pittsburgh vs.

12th seed St. John’s

Tip off: 2 p.m. on ESPN2

Previous Meeting: Feb. 29,

Pittsburgh 89, St. John’s 69


Connecticut was not the only team that suffered an underwhelming conference season in 2012. The Pittsburgh Panthers, fresh off of a Big East regular season championship in 2011, went into a tailspin, losing eight consecutive games and digging themselves into a 0-7 hole in conference play from which they never recovered. St. John’s fell victim to a brutal schedule, facing 11 teams ranked in the top 25. The Red Storm went 1-10 in those games, defeating 18th-ranked Notre Dame on Feb. 25.


Game 3

15th seed Providence vs.

10th seed Seton Hall

Tip off: 7 p.m. on ESPNU

Previous Meeting: Jan. 7,

Seton Hall 66, Providence 57


Early in 2012, Seton Hall looked like the surprise of the year in the Big East conference. The Pirates began the season 15-2, earning a ranking in the top 25 for the first time in 11 years. As it turned out, the record was more an indication of a soft schedule, and the Pirates fell from their perch when a loss to the USF Bulls on January 13th sent them on a six-game losing streak. They bounced back to win four of their next five games, including a marquee win over eighth ranked Georgetown.


Game 4

14th seed Villanova vs.

11th seed Rutgers

Tip off: 9 p.m. on ESPNU

Previous Meeting: March 1,

Villanova 77, Rutgers 71


For the first time in school history in the Big East, the most important game in the first round of the Big East tournament for the Bulls does not actually involve them. The winner of this game will match up with the Bulls on Wednesday night at 9. Coming off of a successful 2011 campaign that was marred by an upset loss to the Bulls in the Big East Tournament, Villanova dealt with a tough 2012 season. USF went 3-0 against both teams this year.