The fastballs don’t have the same zip they used to. The sliders are hanging far more often, too.
The call has been made. Mrs. Hoops is warming up in the bullpen.
Seton Hall (+1) over Butler: Come on, you don’t think this senior class is going down quietly, do you? Two years ago, this group claimed the Pirates’ first Big East Tournament championship since 1993. Last year, Seton Hall nearly knocked off defending national Villanova again in the semifinals.
The Pirates won both meetings with Butler this year — including this past weekend — and though it’s tough to beat a team three times in a season, it’s easier when you’re tougher, more experienced and playing close to home. The likely return of leading-scorer Desi Rodriguez from a three-game absence will ensure the senior core’s send-off is also worth remembering.
Virginia (-7½) over Louisville: The Cardinals’ epic choke job against the country’s top-ranked team last week makes this a must-win, and desperation isn’t a good trait against the most patient team in the nation. Virginia, the top-ranked team — and defense — in the country, has owned the series since Louisville joined the ACC, winning five straight games by an average of 12.6 points. And unlike previous seasons, the Cavaliers are clearly the superior team.
Providence (+4½) over Creighton: The Friars can’t match the offensive firepower of Marcus Foster and the Bluejays, and that’s what the public is too focused on, with nearly 70 percent of bets placed on Creighton. Each team earned a lopsided win over the other on its home floor this season, so expect a tight rubber match at a neutral site.
This season: 5-10
2011-17 record: 199-155-8
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