Following a night in a near-empty arena in Albany, and the next spent at a packed bandbox in Staten Island, I plead with every true mid-major conference to never decide its postseason tournament at a neutral site again.
Georgetown (+4½) over St. John’s: For Chris Mullin, it’s never easy against Patrick Ewing. The Johnnies won a memorable one-point affair over the Hoyas in last year’s Big East Tournament opener, but lost a pair of last-second games to Georgetown this season.
Though St. John’s is the better team, and has been playing well of late, the Hoyas present a tough matchup with their size, and will cause problems for the Red Storm on the glass. The return of Shamorie Ponds, following two games out with an abdominal injury, should propel St. John’s into the second round, but that won’t be clear until the final minute.
Florida State (-1) over Louisville: The Cardinals need a win to feel good about making the NCAA Tournament, but they may be broken, following an incomprehensible last-second home loss to Virginia, which put them on the bubble. Louisville split its two meetings with the Seminoles this season, but has lost four of its past five games and don’t have a Hall of Fame coach — or even an experienced one — to convince them they will recover. A tourney bid should have been a lock. Instead, Louisville may now have to worry about how many future opportunities will be robbed from them because of the scandal that cost Rick Pitino his job.
DePaul (+6) over Marquette: The Blue Demons have lost three straight first-round games by double-digits, and the Golden Eagles have to win to stay in the NCAA Tournament conversation, but the public — a bigger sucker than usual this time of year — is hammering Marquette, which has won four of its past five games. The lone loss came against DePaul.
This season: 5-6
2011-17 record: 199-155-8
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