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BIG EAST CONFERENCE
Madison Square Garden, NYC
Record: 28-3, 16-2
Nova's chances at the last No. 1 seed in March Madness will come down to what they do in this tournament. It sets up quite nicely for them and they should be headed for the championship game. The only team the Wildcats have lost to in the Big East this year has been Creighton if that says anything.
They'll start with Butler or Seton Hall, followed by Providence or St. John's. The only thing about that semifinal matchup is that both those teams are on the bubble fighting for a tourney berth. Villanova's worst matchup in the championship would be Creighton, but the Bluejays aren't a given to be there.
Record: 24-6, 14-4
The Bluejays are a solid team and will probably end up with at least a No. 3 seed in the Big Dance. The one question about them is on the defensive end, where they have trouble guarding most teams. Of course, they have the best player in the nation in Doug McDermott in his senior year and an array of shooters around him.
The Bluejays will get a test in their first game as long as Georgetown wins. The Hoyas beat Creighton by 12 points at home just a week ago. From there, it will be either Xavier or Marquette. This route is a bit tougher than Villanova's, but Creighton is no pushover. Xavier will definitely beat a tough task in the semifinals.
Record: 20-11, 10-8
The Wildcats have slipped up and lost two straight games and could find themselves in the hands of the NCAA committee if they lose to Marquette. Xavier is a good team, they just don't always put it together, as seen in their two losses to Seton Hall and to USC earlier in the year. They split with Marquette earlier in the year, so it should be a good game.
If they get past them, Creighton will likely be waiting which should be another fun, high-scoring game. No matter, Xavier has to win that first game.
Record: 20-10, 10-8
It seems like the entire Big East is on the bubble and the Friars are no different. They're currently on the outside looking in and need to beat St. John's to get any kind of looks in the Big Dance.
Providence won at St. John's in two overtimes, but lost at home by 10 points. Those games were over a month ago, though. Bryce Cotton is in his senior year and you know he doesn't want it to finish with the NIT. Expect big numbers out of him.
Record: 20-11, 10-8
The Johnnies are almost in the exact situation as the team they'll be playing against, Providence. They are a bit further off the bubble and can't lose or will be headed to the NIT. After starting in conference play with five straight losses, the Red Storm have only lost three of 13 games which is how they got to the bubble.
Their game against Providence is basically a do-or-die for both teams and should be great to watch. Unfortunately, the winner has to play Villanova, although St. John's gave them a run a couple weeks ago.
Marquette was on the bubble, but has now lost three straight games and is done for unless they can get some upsets. Losing two straight games in double overtime is not fun. The Golden Eagles still have experience on their side (Elite 8 last year) as well as Davante Gardner, so don't think they'll give up. Georgetown also deserves respect as they could give Creighton some trouble in their quarterfinal matchup. If either of these teams makes a run at the championship, their bubble hopes are back.
Villanova is the favorite as they've dominated most of the conference this year. The bottom of the bracket is a little bit of a question, but Creighton is the favorite to meet Nova.
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