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    Following Flynt - BIG EAST Madness

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    If Marquette had won last night, Notre Dame's Catholic neighbors to the northwest would have improved to 14-3 in the conference and wrapped up the #2 seed for next week's BIG EAST Tournament.

    Had that happened, the Irish still would have been in control to earn a coveted double-bye, with the #4 seed being a likely option.

    But this is BIG EAST basketball, and we would be foolish to expect anything less than a chaotic conclusion. After all, the calendar turned to March last night.

    Instead, the Golden Eagles dropped to 13-4 with a 72-61 loss at Cincinnati. And perhaps more surprisingly, South Florida won at #18 Louisville, 58-51.

    With one game to play, Notre Dame sits in a three-way tie with Georgetown and South Florida for third place, controlling its own destiny for the #3 seed.

    Third place would be a great position for the Irish to be finish because it means they would not have to play top-seeded Syracuse, the nation's second-ranked team, until a potential BIG EAST championship matchup.

    If the Irish beat Providence tomorrow on Senior Night at the Purcell Pavilion, it will not matter what happens when Marquette and Georgetown square off in Milwaukee on Saturday.

    If the Golden Eagles win, they will be back where people thought they would be at the beginning of the week - second in the conference. In addition, if South Florida beats West Virginia, Georgetown will drop out of the top-4 and the Bulls will get a bye to Thursday's quarterfinals.

    On the other hand, if the Hoyas win, we could be looking at a four-way tie for second place with Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame and South Florida all knotted at 13-5 in the conference.

    Georgetown would get the #2 seed because the Hoyas have already beaten the Irish and Bulls once, and would also have a 2-0 record against the Golden Eagles.

    Notre Dame has wins over both Marquette and South Florida and would secure the #3 spot, while the Golden Eagles would take the final spot due to their 67-47 victory in their only meeting with the Bulls.

    If you're still reading, you're probably confused.

    Put simply: With a win on Friday, Notre Dame will be the #3 seed in next week's BIG EAST Tournament, an achievement no one in America expected of a team picked to finish ninth in the league.

    If the Irish do, in fact, lock up the #3 seed, they would play next Thursday, Mar. 8 at 9 pm ET on ESPN against the winner of Wednesday's 9 pm second round game.

    Sit tight. It's only March 1st, but the madness has already begun.

    - Josh Flynt ('11)

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