A tremendous Saturday awaits fans of the Big East, the only conference in America where the odds are overwhelming that you are facing an opponent bound for the NCAA tournament. Here's what is at stake in the five Saturday contests:
Notre Dame at South Florida: For the Fightin' Irish, it's pretty much all about seeding. At 20-4, 9-3 in the Big East, Notre Dame still can lay claim upon a 1 or a 2 seed come March. For South Florida, it's playing out the string. After blowing a 16-point lead to Marquette, one wonders if they will show up.
Syracuse at Louisville: For the Orange, bouncing back from a disheartening 64-56 loss to Georgetown will be key. Syracuse (20-5, 7-5) isn't in any real danger of missing the tournament, but a loss to Louisville would bring them dangerously close to .500 in-conference. For Louisville (18-6, 7-4), the win would put the final pieces of an NCAA resume into place.
DePaul at West Virginia: For the Blue Demons (6-17, 0-11), this season is mostly about standout freshman Clevelan Melvin, whose game is as outstanding as his name. Chances are they won't earn their first win of the conference season in Morgantown. As for West Virginia (15-8, 6-5), any NCAA scenario includes a win at home over DePaul.
Seton Hall at Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights, fresh off of a breathtaking one-point win over Villanova, will face the Pirates with an NIT bid possibly on the line. At 13-11 overall, 4-8 in-conference, a win would give Rutgers a three game cushion in the mandatory need to stay at or above .500. For Seton Hall (10-14, 4-8) the stakes are simple: Jersey Pride.
Pittsburgh at Villanova: The best way for Villanova (19-5, 7-4) to shake off that Rutgers loss would be to pin Big East loss number two on Pitt (22-2, 10-1). Another Pitt win, and thee chances of any team challenging the Panthers for a regular season crown dwindles even further. A Pitt loss, and suddenly four teams are within two losses of Pitt- Notre Dame would be just one back in the loss column. Intrigue!