Favorites: Georgetown (24-5, 14-4) is the top seed, while defending tournament champion Louisville (26-5, 14-4) is the No. 2 seed and riding a seven-game winning streak. Marquette (23-7, 14-4) is the third seed.
UC: The Bearcats (21-10, 9-9) are the No. 9 seed and open up against No. 8 Providence (17-13, 9-9) on Wednesday at noon.
Head-to-head: Providence won 54-50 at Providence on Feb. 6
At stake: The winner advances to play Georgetown in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Most prognostications have UC and its RPI of 49 in the NCAA field but one more win certainly won’t hurt. Since starting off 16-3, including an overtime win against Marquette, the Bearcats are just 5-7. One factor playing in their favor is that they don’t have any “bad” losses in terms of teams outside of the top 100 of the RPI, with the defeat at the hands of the Friars (No. 83) being their worst. Providence is looking at the NIT if it doesn’t win the Big East but has won seven of its last nine games.
Outlook: Senior point guard Cashmere Wright continues to improve from a knee strain in January, including making six of his last 12 three-pointers after shooting less than 20 percent from long range in his 10 previous games. If they can find a way to get Sean Kilpatrick back in rhythm (he has made just seven of his last 29 threes) it will help overcome their deficiency in the offensive frontcourt. When Cheikh Mbodj and David Nyarsuk hit the boards on offense they have finish second chances. Mbodj did exactly that in the second half and overtime this past Saturday against South Florida as the Bearcats survived against the Bulls.