Men’s Big East Notebook

After going 15-3 in conference play, Syracuse earned the No. 1 seed for the 2010 Big East Championship in New York City, which begins today.

Despite falling to Louisville in Saturday’s season finale, Syracuse earned its first outright Big East regular-season title since the 1990-’91 season, finishing two games ahead of the rest of the field in the final conference standings.

Syracuse joins Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Villanova as the top four seeds in the conference tournament and won’t play until Thursday’s quarterfinals.

Syracuse has won five Big East Championships, one behind Connecticut with six and two behind Georgetown with seven.

The tournament begins Tuesday with four first-round matchups. Friday’s semifinals are scheduled for 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., while the championship game tips at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Georgetown finishes strong

The Hoyas finished an up-and-down regular season by ransacking Cincinnati, 74-47, at home. They clinched the No. 8 seed and a first round bye in the process.

Georgetown rallied behind junior guard Austin Freeman less than a week after he was diagnosed with diabetes.

“I’m proud of him,” coach John Thompson III said. “It’s so serious. It’s a life-changing thing that you find out, but once he was back on the court, he was the same. Off the court, he was the same. He just took it all in stride.”

The win sets up a second round match-up against either South Florida or DePaul at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Marquette silences critics

Marquette wrapped up its regular season with a tough 63-60 overtime loss to Notre Dame, which essentially assured a spot for the Irish in the NCAA tournament.

However, the Golden Eagles were predicted to finish 12th in conference this season and are the only team in Division I college basketball not to lose a game by double digits this season.

No. 5 seed Marquette will face the winner of Connecticut and St. John’s at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Harangody good to go

Notre Dame looked to Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough to pick up the slack since Luke Harangody injured his knee and missed the past five games.

Harangody returned Saturday and scored just five points in 11 minutes, but the Irish will be glad to have their first team all-Big East performer back for the rest of the season.

The Irish, seeded No. 7, will take on either Seton Hall or Providence at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Cardinals ensure spot in NCAAs

Louisville got a career-high 22 points from guard Kyle Kuric, all in the second half, as the Cardinals stunned No. 1 Syracuse, 78-68, on Saturday. A record crowd of 20,135 witnessed the upset in what was the final game in the historic Freedom Hall.

The win locked up the No. 6 spot in the Big East Tournament and will no doubt have the Cardinals included in the 65-team NCAA field to be announced Sunday.

The Cardinals will face either Cincinnati or Rutgers at 8 p.m. Wednesday to close the day’s action.

Player to watch

Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia, F, Sr.

Butler has hit his share of big-time shots in the waning seconds of games this season, each propelling the Mountaineers to unlikely victories (looking at you, Marquette and Villanova). He will be a key cog in West Virginia’s attack during its Big East and NCAA Tournament runs. Butler enters the Big East tournament with 1,957 points in his career.

Points per game: 17.2

Rebounds per game: 6.3

Assists per game: 3.3

Field goal percentage: 41.9

Three point percentage: 35.1

Free throw percentage: 76.7

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