BIG EAST CONFERENCE
Madison Square Garden, New York City
Record: 27-4, 16-2
The Wildcats received a bit more of a challenge this season in the Big East, but still ended up taking the Conference by two Games. As usual, it’s going to take a lot to beat them, but there will definitely be some competition along the way in this Tournament. As for March Madness, Villanova likely has a 1-seed locked up unless it falls to Georgetown or DePaul in the quarterfinals.
‘Nova could have some trouble against Providence or Butler in the semis or Xavier in the final Game, but not many will be betting against that. The Wildcats have been the best team in this Conference for the last few years and there’s no reason to go against them now.
Record: 26-4, 14-4
The Musketeers were giving Villanova a run for the regular season title, but costly losses against lesser teams did them in (Georgetown, Creighton, Seton Hall). That’s something ‘Nova usually doesn’t do and a reason the Wildcats won another regular season.
Xavier will have a chance to knock off the champions in the final, but its road to getting there will be far from easy. Marquette will be a tough out in the quarters and then the Musketeers will get either Seton Hall or Creighton in the semis, two teams that already beat them. They have an outside shot of getting a 1-seed in the NCAA Tourney by winning the Big East, but they have a long way to go.
Record: 22-8, 12-6
The Pirates couldn’t have asked for much more this year, getting a 3-seed in the Big East Tourney in addition to likely competing in March Madness. They’ll face Creighton first, a team they split with, and if they can win that, a likely meeting with Xavier.
Seton Hall has shown they can compete with every team in the Conference this year with a balanced squad. They remain a decent underdog play to win the Tournament. Coming into this, the Pirates have won five of their last six Games and nine of their last 11. Both of those losses came against Butler, a team in the top half of the bracket.
Record: 22-9, 10-8
The Friars looked like challenging Villanova early on, but in the end, they just didn’t have enough and struggled to close out the season. They have won three-straight Games coming in, but all of those were against lesser competition. Before that run, they had lost five of six.
Providence is a two-man team built around Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn. If one of those guys has a bad Game, anyone in this Conference can take them down. But if both of those guys are on, all bets are off. The Friars take on Butler in the quarters and then likely Villanova in the semis. Based on their inconsistencies, it’s hard to see them beating these teams on back-to-back days. The good news is that they swept Butler in the regular season. However, neither one of those Games was extremely convincing.
Record: 21-9, 10-8
The Bulldogs were on the bubble a week ago, but after three straight solid wins, look to be headed for the NCAA Tournament. Although, another loss to Providence here could change that.
Butler was swept by both Providence and Villanova in the regular season so it’s hard to see them beating both of those teams en route to the championship Game.
Creighton, Marquette and Georgetown are all unlikely to play in March Madness, but that’s not to say they’ll be easy outs in the Big East Tournament. All three could provide some upsets throughout the way, which should make for an exciting Tourney.
Villanova is the team to beat and everyone will no doubt be gunning for them. But will that matter? ‘Nova’s hardest test will likely come in the championship Game if Xavier makes it. Providence could also provide a tough test in the semis, but that’s not something to count on.