The Big East Tournament begins Wednesday night with a pair of opening round games. The Tournament is played at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
2016 Champion: Seton Hall
10th Seed DePaul Blue Demons 9-22 (2-16)
It has been another tough year for Dave Leitao’s squad as the Blue Demons managed just two wins in Big East play. They let a number of close games get away from them and just really lacked consistency on both ends of the floor. Billy Garrett Jr is a phenomenal guard and is the key if DePaul wants to make some noise at Madison Square Garden. DePaul opens with Xavier, the team they closed the season against, on Wednesday.
9th Seed Georgetown Hoyas 14-17 (5-13)
Georgetown has set a new record this year for most Big East losses in program history with 13. There have been many questions about the direction of the program under John Thompson III and we haven’t gotten many answers to those questions. It’s very easy to focus on the negatives with multiple early NCAA exits, missing on recruits like Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins and having talent like Isaac Copeland transferring mid-season. That being said, this team is very talented and matches up well with almost every team in the conference. Effort will be the key for the Hoyas, they can’t give up on the season. Georgetown takes on St. John’s to open the Big East Tournament.
8th Seed St. John’s Red Storm 13-18 (7-11)
Chris Mullin has some very talented Frosh on this team. That being said, they are still Freshman and are prone to slumps and mental lapses. That’s what we saw this season from the Johnnies. They have the capability to play with any team, so long as they get after it on the defense end. Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett are going to be a very dangerous duo for the next few years. Defense is the Achilles heel of this team and will dictate how far they go in the BET. St. John’s gets G-Town in round 1.
7th Seed Xavier Musketeers 19-12 (9-9)
Xavier had lost 6 straight before a road win in Rosemont over DePaul on Saturday. The Musketeers desperately needed the win to end the slump and get back on track. X has failed to find a consistent complementary threat on the offensive end to Trevon Bluiett. Since the loss of Sumner the offensive end has been the problem. They lost a great scorer, but also their main ball-handler and that has been a noticeable absence as the Musketeers have struggled with turnovers. Finding someone to step up and help Bluiett on the offensive end is the key for Xavier to make a run at MSG. Xavier takes on DePaul in the first round.
6th Seed Creighton Blue Jays 23-8 (10-8)
Like the aforementioned Musketeers, the Blue Jays also lost their star point guard to a knee injury. Since the Watson injury, the Jays have hung around .500 and survived the Big East gauntlet. Khyri Thomas is an absolute stat stuffer and has emerged as a key contributor for Creighton. The Jays still have a ton of talent and the ability to beat anyone in the conference. Marcus Foster is one of the best scorers in the country and Justin Patton is a very efficient, versatile 7-footer. Rebounding is one of Creighton’s biggest weaknesses and will decide how far they go in the Big East tourney. Jays open with Providence on Thursday.
5th Seed Seton Hall Pirates 20-10 (10-8)
The Hall is playing their best basketball of the season right now having won 4 straight including the season finale at Hinkle, a building the Pirates had never won at. Desi Rodriguez is red-hot and Angel Delgado continues to do his thing and dominate the glass while posting double-doubles. It is impressive what Kevin Willard and company have done despite essentially zero production from the 1 and 4 positions. Point guard play and staying out of foul trouble will be the keys for The Hall if they want to repeat as Big East Champs. The Pirates open against Marquette.
4th Seed Marquette Golden Eagles 19-11 (10-8)
Marquette closed the season strong winning 4 of their last 5 contests, highlighted by a season sweep over Xavier. This team has 8 (!!) wins over top 50 opponents and is playing for seeding at this point, Lundardi currently has them as a 10 seed. This team can score in bunches, they average 82 per game, which is good enough for 19th in the country (8th in KenPom adjusted offense). 5 players average more than 10 points per game and they have a blossoming star in Markus Howard running the point. The Golden Eagles also share the ball very well, with close to 17 assists per game. The defensive end is where Marquette has struggled and it will determine how far they go in the Big East tourney. The Golden Eagles open with defending champ, Seton Hall.
3rd Seed Providence Friars 20-11 (10-8)
How about the job Ed Cooley has done with this Providence team? Projected to finish 9th preseason and they come out and wrap up a 3 seed and another bid to the NCAA tournament. Not to mention he lost two guys named Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil from last year’s team. Rodney Bullock and Kyron Cartwright have been nothing short of fantastic all season long for the Friars. Taking care of the basketball will be the biggest key to Providence’s BET success, we know the big names will step up as always seems to happen at MSG, but Providence turns it over 12 times per game and needs to cut that down to make a run. The Friars will play Creighton in the quarterfinals to open.
2nd Seed Butler Bulldogs 23-7 (12-6)
The Bulldogs were selected to finish 6th in the preseason and all they did was sweep Villanova and win 23 games to prove everyone wrong. This is an incredibly balanced, well-rounded team that Chris Holtmann has. The emergence of Kamar Baldwin has helped to replace the losses of Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones. The Dawgs are seven deep and can even be eight deep when Fowler plays well. Each and every guy has the ability to take over and be the leader of the team. Rebounding is by and far the weakest point of Butler’s game, they are one of the worst teams in the country in that category, rated 325th. Butler will take on the winner of the DePaul-Xavier game.
1st Seed Villanova Wildcats 28-3 (15-3)
Jay Wright’s team lost their leaders Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu from last year’s national title team and still dominated the conference. The Wildcats also lost Phil Booth early in the year and super Frosh Omari Spellman before the season and STILL rattled off a 28-3 record. The key to success this season was the growth of Sophomore guard Jalen Brunson. Brunson took a huge step forward in his second year at Nova and his averages are up in every category. The most notable is his FG%, Brunson is hitting 53.6% from the field. Even with how great Brunson has been, we all know that this is Josh Hart’s team, the NPOY candidate has been sensational all season shooting over 50% from the field and over 40% from 3. This team doesn’t play a deep rotation, but they can beat you in a multitude of ways. Their biggest weakness is that they get incredibly jump-shot happy at times and shoot themselves out of games. Get to the rim and Nova should have no problem taking home the Big East Tournament Title.
Xavier over DePaul
Georgetown over St. John’s
Villanova over Georgetown
Seton Hall over Marquette
Butler over Xavier
Creighton over Providence
Villanova over Seton Hall
Creighton over Butler
Villanova over Creighton