#3 Connecticut Huskies 27-3 (15-3 BE)
Connecticut Starting Lineup:
G A.J. Price Sr.
G Craig Austrie Sr.
F Stanley Robinson Jr.
F Jeff Adrien Sr.
C Hasheem Thabeet Jr.
Key Bench Players:
G Kemba Walker Fr.
F Gavin Edwards Jr.
Previous Game: The #1 ranked Huskies lost at The Petersen Events Center to then #3 Pittsburgh 70-60. Sam Young carried Pitt with 31 points and 10 rebounds. A.J. Price led UConn with 19 points. Hasheem Thabeet chipped in 14 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks, although he was held scoreless in the second half.
Game Preview: The 3 seed in the Big East Tournament is the 4th ranked team in the country, that is how strong the Big East has been this season. Connecticut has been in the top 5 all season long, but the Huskies come into their opening Big East Tournament game with Syracuse as vulnerable as ever. The last time Syracuse and UConn played, UConn thumped the Cuse 63-49 in a game in which Syracuse had their lowest point total of the season and shot just 31% from the field. Hasheem Thabeet absolutely manhandled Syracuse as he had 8 points, 16 rebounds and 7 blocks, not to mention somehow leaving the game with just 1 foul. Syracuses' bigs where not 100% but they (Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson) had a combined 6 points, 10 rebounds and 1 block, along with 7 fouls. However this time around UConn is without former leading scorer Jerome Dyson. In that game against Syracuse Dyson went down with a torn MCL and he is now done for the season. Dyson was UConn's top offensive threat as he could drive, dish and shoot with consistency. Since he has went down UConn hasn't been the same, they are 4-2 (both losses to Pittsburgh) and their average margin of victory is just 9.75 points. Syracuse on the other hand has been on fire as of late winning 5 straight with an average margin of victory of 21 points. In this game expect a lot closer matchup as Syracuse is finally healthy and UConn is a bit down. The officiating should be top notch as well as it should always be in postseason play, another incident like the one between Syracuse and Seton Hall last night will not be tolerated. Therefore, Thabeet won't be able to get away with some of his "blocks" he usually would get away with, though he will still be a major force in the middle. For Syracuse to have a good chance of beating Uconn they need to keep up what they have been doing during this winning streak. Having an active 2-3 zone (teams shooting 36.2%), taking care of the ball and getting better shots (shooting 56.6%) and being an unselfish team (averaging 23.6 apg on 33.6 fgm per game). If Syracuse does that, and stays out of foul trouble, there is no doubt Syracuse is moving on to the semifinals.
My Prediction: It is awfully hard to pick against this Syracuse team, they arguably the hottest team in the Big East, if not the country right now, and beating an old rival like UConn would just fuel their fire. Syracuse will extend its 5 game winning streak to 6 and 3 game winning streak over UConn in the BET to 4 with a win. Expect a big time performance from Flynn and Devendrf along with another great performance from Ongenaut. Thabeet will get into early foul trouble and UConn will never be able to recover. Syracuse wins 78-70.
Final Score: 127-117 Syracuse 6OT