With the Big East tournament under way, Jay Bilas takes a look at five questions facing the league's top teams, including Marquette's Final Four hopes and Syracuse's glaring weakness.
1. Are the Marquette Golden Eagles a Final Four-caliber team?
Yes, with a good draw. Marquette does not have great size, but Buzz Williams has two star-caliber players who can take over a game in Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, and Marquette does a great job of punching the lane off the bounce and getting to the foul line. This is a dangerous team that is capable of beating anyone.
2. Will the Syracuse Orange's poor defensive rebounding hurt them?
Syracuse is one of the nation's best transition teams and one of the most effective teams at getting extra possessions through steals. The Orange also do a great job of holding opponents to a low field goal percentage. If Syracuse finishes up its defensive possessions by grabbing defensive rebounds and not allowing extra possessions and high-percentage second looks, its chances to get beat diminish greatly.
It isn't that Syracuse cannot rebound; it's that the Orange do not do it as consistently as they could. Defensive rebounding is clearly not a strength for this team.
3. How far can the Georgetown Hoyas roll?
Georgetown is a very good defensive team that is long-armed and athletic. The Hoyas' 59-41 win over Notre Dame on Feb. 27 was as complete a defensive performance as I have seen all season.
However, this young team can have some hiccups on the offensive end and on the glass. I like Georgetown, but it is young enough to give you pause, especially in postseason play, when experience is of paramount importance.
4. Will the Connecticut Huskies find themselves or fizzle out?
I believe that UConn, without doing anything, is already in the field of 68. The Huskies played a hellacious schedule and have won some quality games. With Jim Calhoun back, the team is in a better frame of mind, and the Huskies are fighting back.
5. Exactly how good are the Cincinnati Bearcats?
Cincinnati is a good team that does a solid job on the defensive end and has shown some real toughness. The Bearcats can shoot, and they play really hard. The program took a hit after the fight against Xavier but showed character in coming back from it and being stronger than what was said about it.
I like this team, and I have been impressed with the job that Mick Cronin has done with this group.