The Hoya’s very own Evan Hollander scored twelfth-row tickets to the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, and will be sharing his end-of-day thoughts with us at, well, the end of every day. If you see him, give him a shout and he’ll give you an autograph. Or something.
Despite the disappointment of Georgetown’s loss on Thursday afternoon, the Big East tournament rolled on Friday, and it did so with two impressive semifinal upsets. Because Syracuse and Notre Dame were defeated, two unranked teams will surprisingly vie for the championship tonight at 9 p.m.
Cincinnati 71, Syracuse 68
The Orange came into this game with only one loss, but the Bearcats didn’t seem the least bit intimidated by their rivals. The confidence Cincinnati showed to begin the game — including an opening stretch where it went eight-for-10 on three-pointers — gave it a lead that stretched to as many as 16 points. Syracuse stormed back in the second half thanks to a monster effort from Dion Waiters, who has been very impressive throughout the tournament. The run wasn’t enough to dig the Orange out of their large hole, however, and the Bearcats held on for the victory. Yancy Gates rightfully gets a lot of attention from Cincinnati’s opponents, but Sean Kilpatrick is equally impressive and does his damage from the outside. Cincinnati may have an interior advantage against Louisville, but the Bearcats will need to break the Cardinals’ pressure and continue to find good shots from long-range to be able to take home the title.
Louisville 64, Notre Dame 50
There is no question that Louisville has hit their best stride this week in New York, while Notre Dame’s stock has been sinking ever since losing at St. John’s and Georgetown toward the end of the regular season. The Cardinals’ Peyton Siva has really come into his own, dishing out assists without racking up turnovers. And teammate Gorgui Dieng has been a beast in the post, where he connected on all eight of his field goal attempts last night. Despite a fairly good effort from Jack Cooley inside, Notre Dame could not connect on three-point opportunities and suffered from Louisville’s aggressive full-court press. The way the Cardinals have played against Marquette and Notre Dame should give them a lot of confidence going into the championship. If they play the stifling defense they have the last two nights and keep taking high-percentage interior looks, Rick Pitino’s squad will have a great shot at cutting down the nets.