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Big East Tournament Preview

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Men’s Big East Tournament: Preview

Madison Square Garden is preparing to host the annual Men’s Big East Tournament beginning this Wednesday, March 13th. All 10 Big East teams will collide in New York to crown a tournament champion. An auto bid awaits the champ, however, at large bids are very much still in play for the rest of the field. With the gauntlet that was conference play, fans can expect a physical and exciting brand of basketball that will wrap up Saturday, March 16.

The Teams

School             Conf.     Overall
Villanova         13-5       22-9
Marquette       12-6      23-8
Georgetown     9-9      19-12
Seton Hall        9-9       18-12
Creighton         9-9      18-13
Xavier               9-9      17-14
St. John’s         8-10     20-11
Providence      7-11     17-14
DePaul             7-11     15-14
Butler              7-11      16-15

Two Horse Race

The Big East regular-season title came down to a two horse race between the Villanova Wildcats and Marquette Golden Eagles. Both teams squared off late last month with Villanova pulling out a 67-61 win at home. This game proved to be the deciding factor as the regular season championship was decided by a one game difference in the W column! A deeper dive into Big East conference play shows that overall records can be deceiving. Both Marquette and Villanova found themselves atop the standings, however, both teams struggled down the stretch. Villanova finished 2-4 to end conference play, and the Golden Eagles are coming off a deflating four-game losing streak. As a result, the Big East Tournament should be filled with close games and potential upsets in every round.

Big East Bracket Breakdown

First Round- Wednesday, March 13

Game 1: No. 8 Providence vs No. 9 Butler — 7 p.m. on FS1
Game 2: No. 7 St. John’s vs No. 10 DePaul — 9:30 p.m. on FS1

Quarterfinals — Thursday, March 14

Game 3: No. 1 Villanova vs Game 1 winner — noon on FS1
Game 4: No. 4 Xavier vs No. 5 Creighton — 2:30 p.m. on FS1
Game 5: No. 2 Marquette vs Game 2 winner — 7 p.m. on FS1
Game 6: No. 3 Seton Hall vs No. 6 Georgetown — 9:30 p.m. on FS1

Semifinals — Friday, March 15

Game 7: Game 3 winner vs Game 4 winner — 6:30 p.m. on FS1
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs Game 6 winner — 9 p.m. on FS1

Big East Tournament Championship Game — Saturday, March 16

Game 9 — 6:30 p.m. on Fox

Favorites

#1 Villanova: The Wildcats are coming into the Big East Tournament winning three of the last four years. Another factor to consider is the favorable match-ups the Wildcats have with a record of 7-1 against teams it may encounter to the finals. Experience is another factor that bodes well for this year’s Villanova squad. Their team leaders Phil Booth and Eric Paschall were both integral parts of the 2017-2018 National Championship team. If these two players, in particular, play up to their All Big-East status, Villanova has a great chance of making it four out of the last five years as Big East Tournament Champions.

#2 Marquette: Marquette is home to one of the most electrifying players in the country. Markus Howard is must watch TV! The Junior guard is averaging 25 points per contest while draining 42% of his three-point attempts. Although the Golden Eagles are slated at #25 in the AP poll, they cannot feel comfortable heading into the tournament. If not for the four-game losing streak to end the season, we might very well be talking about the Golden Eagles as the #1 seed. The Golden Eagles are looking to put their losing ways in the rear view mirror. What better way to do that than play in Madison Square Garden?

Big East Sleepers

#3 Seton Hall: Depending on who you speak to, Seton Hall is either in the NCAA Tournament already or close to a lock. Going in and winning the Big East tournament would put these worries to rest. If Seton Hall is going to take home the trophy, they are going to rely heavily on Junior guard Myles Powell. Powell comes into the tournament playing the best basketball of anyone in the conference, ending the season at 22.6 points per game. Seton Hall won’t be short on confidence due to the fact that the Pirates ended the season with two huge victories over Marquette and Villanova.

#7 St. John’s: In what seems like a common theme for Big East teams, St. John’s struggled to finish line. They went 0-3 to finish what was otherwise an impressive season. The Johnnies still have one of, if not, the most talented rosters in the Big East. Leading the charge is superstar Shamorie Ponds who was named All-Big East First team this week. The Red Storm also excel on the defensive side of the ball. They force opponents to turn the ball over on 20% of their possessions in conference play. They look to avenge a late-season loss to Depaul in the opening round of the tournament.

Predictions

First Round- Wednesday, March 13

Game 1: No. 8 Providence vs No. 9 Butler
The Pick: Providence

Game 2: No. 7 St. John’s vs No. 10 DePaul
The Pick: St. John’s

Quarterfinals — Thursday, March 14

Game 3: No. 1 Villanova vs No. 8 Providence
The Pick: Villanova

Game 4: No. 4 Xavier vs No. 5 Creighton
The Pick: Xavier

Game 5: No. 2 Marquette vs St. John’s
The Pick: St. John’s

Game 6: No. 3 Seton Hall vs No. 6 Georgetown
The Pick: Seton Hall

Semifinals — Friday, March 15

Game 7: No. 1 Villanova vs No. 4 Xavier
The Pick: Villanova

Game 8: No.7 St. John’s vs. No. 3 Seton Hall
The Pick: Seton Hall

Big East Tournament Championship Game — Saturday, March 16

Championship Game: Villanova vs. Seton Hall

In the end, the experience of Jay Wright’s Wildcats team will be too much to handle. Phil Booth and Eric Paschall provide a dominant two-man punch that will carry Villanova to victory. This will mark the third time in as many years the Wildcats will reign supreme.

The Pick: Villanova

Big East Tournament MVP

Phil Booth

 

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