Big East

2013 Big East Tournament Preview

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UPDATED 11 March 2013, 11:21 p.m. ET

We’ve seen signs of the dissolving Big East as we know it, celebrated its triumphs, and eulogized its ending for much of the 2012-13 season. This week in New York City, though, it will come to a conclusion with the last conference tournament for the Big East as it was. With such parity in this field, there is also the chance that it could be one of the best tournaments, prone to upsets and full of dramatics that we’ve become accustomed to in this conference for over 30 years. Check out a preview below:

(CLICK HERE to browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

The Bracket

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

When: March 12-16

Final: March 16, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Favorite: Georgetown

After losing to South Florida on Jan. 19, Georgetown has won 12 of its last 13 games and is one of the more dangerous teams in the conference. The Hoyas lost second-leading scorer Greg Whittington earlier in the season, but have not missed a beat. That is mostly because of the increased production of likely conference player of the year Otto Porter, as well as guards Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. The biggest possible stumbling block for the Hoyas will be offensively, making sure they are able to keep the offense flowing and avoid big slumps like they fell victim to early in the season.

And if they lose? Louisville

Three straight losses early in the Big East season had critics writing Louisville off. Since late January, though, the Cardinals have won ten of their last 11 games, with the only loss coming in a five-overtime thriller on the road to Notre Dame. Guard Russ Smith has scored in double figures in all but one of those games, but the key will be how well his backcourt mate Peyton Siva plays. Last season, Siva’s emergence in the postseason is what helped Louisville to the Final Four. Can he do it again?

Sleeper: Marquette

Coach Buzz Williams and his Marquette team quietly crept into the Top 25 this season and up to the top of the Big East to grab a share of the conference title. The Golden Eagles have adapted to personnel changes year-to-year and Vander Blue is proving that he can be a No. 1 scoring option for this team. Marquette does not rebound or score the ball at a particularly high rate, but they play solid defense and shoot efficiently from the field.

Other Studs:

– Jack Cooley, Notre Dame

Cooley has been a double-double machine for the Irish this season and the anchor in the middle of the lane that complements the strong backcourt of Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins. The more involved Cooley is, the better off the Irish will be in New York.

– Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse

Carter-Williams has been the biggest breakout star in the conference this season and is the facilitator that makes Syracuse go. Unfortunately, the Orange are in a skid and have lost four of their last five games. Granted, four of those fives games have been against ranked teams, but that is what a schedule in March can be, especially in a single-elimination tournament.

– Bryce Cotton, Providence

The Big East’s scoring leader is part of a sneaky Providence teams that many higher seeds likely don’t want to face. Along with Vincent Council in the Friar backcourt, coach Ed Cooley and Providence could surprise some teams at MSG.

CBT Prediction: Villanova beats St. John’s in its Wednesday matchup with St. John’s, then upsets Louisville in the quarterfinal. By then, the Wildcats will have fully solidified their spot in the NCAA tournament.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.