Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Big East First Round Results; Mt. Saint Mary's Shocks Northeast

Villanova 82 Syracuse 63
That should do it for the Wildcats... and for Syracuse. Villanova used a 12-3 spurt midway through the second half to turn a close game into a runaway and secure an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. For Syracuse, the loss was the culmination of a frustrating, injury-filled season that will likely end in the NIT Tournament.

Scottie Reynolds led all scorers with 22 points, including 4-of-7 three-pointers. Corey Stokes pitched in 18, hitting 4-of-8 from three-point range. The game was the opener for the Big East Tournament, which showcases one of the nation's great conferences through the weekend at Madison Square Garden. Villanova moves on to face top-seeded Georgetown in the second round on Thursday.

West Virginia 58 Providence 53
Joe Alexander scored 22 points and Da'Sean Butler added 18 points and nine rebounds to pace the Mountaineers past Providence and into the second round of the Big East tournament. Next up for the Mountaineers is Connecticut, who topped West Virginia 79-71 on March first at UConn. The second round game is slated for a 2:00 pm tip. West Virginia finished 11-7 in the conference during the regular season and may still need a win in order to receive a NCAA at-large bid. They are battling Pitt and Villanova for the probable 6th and 7th seeds from the Big East. Both the Panthers and Wildcats won opening round games on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh 70 Cincinnati 64
The Panthers finally closed out a stubborn Bearcats team to move into the second round of the Big East tourney. Pitt faces Louisville on Thursday night. A win over Louisville would almost certainly earn an NCAA bid for the Panthers, while a loss would still leave some doubt.

Marquette 67 Seton Hall 54
Marquette was probably going to get an NCAA invite whichever way this game turned, but winning it, and moving into the next round against Notre Dame, is certainly preferable. The Golden Eagles split a pair of games with the Irish this season, each team winning at home. On a neutral court, Marquette may rate a slight edge.

Marquette's Jerel McNeil was the game's high scorer with 21 points.

Mt. Saint Mary's Captures Northeast Title, Earns Bid

It's been a long, strange trip for the Mountaineers from Mt. Saint Mary's, but it's about to get even longer. The Mountaineers, who began the season with four straight losses, and found themselves at 8-11 on January 24, avenged earlier, regular season losses to Robert Morris and Sacred Heart and swept through the Northeast Conference tournament to capture an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Mountaineers finished the regular season in 4th place at 11-7, behind Robert Morris (16-2), Wagner (15-3) and Sacred Heart (13-5). After knocking off Quinnipiac, 80-70 in the opening round of the conference tourney, they thundered past Robert Morris, 83-65 on Sunday, and downed Sacred Heart, 69-55, in the final, Wednesday.

At 18-14, the Mountaineers will probably be a 16 seed and cannon fodder for one of the four #1's in the tournament. They've won five straight and seven of their last eight.

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