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Big East Quarterfinals: Evening Session

(7) West Virginia 74 (2) Pittsburgh 60:  When DeJuan Blair picked up his second foul just minutes into the first half, the Panthers bench knew trouble was near.  The team had not lost this season when Blair had three fouls or less.  However, the sophomore forward was unable to limit the number tonight and eventually fouled out.  It was a recipe success for West Virginia who took full advantage of the absence of the co-Big East Player of the Year and won the game.

Although Blair was out, West Virginia still needed to capitalize for it to mean anything. Freshman forward Devin Ebanks made sure it did by scoring 20 points and recording seven rebounds.  Even when Blair came back for spurts in the second half, Ebanks looked like the best player on the floor.  He helped the Mountaineers out rebound the Panthers by one, which is something almost unheard of when Blair is on the court.

The upset means that Pittsburgh’s shot at one-seed in the NCAA Tournament may be in doubt.  They now will have to wait an extra two days to find out their fate after having won the Big East Tournament the last two seasons.

(6) Syracuse 127 (3) Connecticut 117:  Remarkable.  Unbelievable.  Insane.  They head an almost endless list of adjectives to describe one of the greatest games in college basketball history as Syracuse knocked off Connecticut after six overtime periods.

The game was seemingly over at the end of regulation when Syracuse junior guard Eric Devendorf hit a miraculous 3-point shot after a full court pass as time expired.  However, upon further review the officials saw that the ball was still on his fingertips when the clock expired.

Little did anyone know that the game would not end before another 30 minutes of basketball.  The game became a war of attrition as seven players fouled out.  Eventually, the Orange and Huskies had to go to players on their bench that had played just minutes all season.

It was not until the sixth overtime that either team took control, and that team was the Syracuse Orange.  Remarkably, it was the first time in any overtime period that the Orange had a lead.  Once they got that lead, they never relinquished it and came away with the victory.

The win means that Syracuse and West Virginia will meet in an unlikely semifinal matchup.  The only time the two teams met this season was on Feb. 4, when the Orange beat the Mountaineers 74-61 at the Carrier Dome.

-David Cassilo

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