Big East tournament outlook

Updated: March 3, 2009, 11:58 AM ET
By Graham Hays
The focus at the Big East tournament in Hartford, Conn., will be on Connecticut's continued pursuit of perfection, but it's entirely possible that the only truly meaningful game will take place at noon Saturday, when plenty of leg room likely will still be available throughout the XL Center. Should No. 9 Marquette handle matters Friday against No. 16 Cincinnati, it would face No. 8 South Florida in a game that's not as much about the opportunity to face the Huskies as to face any seed in the NCAA tournament.

Of the seven teams ahead of South Florida and Marquette in the conference, none should be overly fearful of bubbles. Only Rutgers and Villanova are shy of 20 wins. The former has a brutal schedule, a strong RPI and a good finishing kick to hand to the selection committee, while the latter would be a rather glaring omission at 10-6 in the league.

That leaves South Florida and Marquette. (Georgetown also finished 7-9 in conference play during the regular season but had yet to beat a team in the RPI top 50, as of last week's RPI numbers, and probably sealed its fate with a loss at Seton Hall on Monday.)