Bracketology Preview: Big East Predictions

Day 3 of my Bracketology Previews has rolled in, which means it is time to take a look at the “Granddaddy Conference” of them all, the Big East! The Big East always supplies the College Basketball world with tons of powerhouses each year. Since 2011, the Big East has brought home three of the past six National Championships. When the Big East “collapsed” back in 2013, lots of people thought that this would be the end of Big East Basketball. They were wrong! Villanova, Creighton, and others flourished as a result of the decline in numbers in the conference. Looking at the Big East today, there are 7 possible tournament teams still alive and a repeat championship dream for Villanova on the line. After a wild season once again, let’s examine how the Big East will finish!

(* Denotes neutral court game)

 

Villanova Wildcats (25-2) (12-2)

RPI Rank: 3  BPI Rank: 1  AP Rank: 2

Best Wins: @ #10 Creighton, v.s. #12 Virginia, @ #15 Purdue

Worst Losses: @ Marquette, @ #18 Butler

 

The defending champion Wildcats have not missed a beat this season on their quest to repeat! Villanova has been arguably the best team all season with a 25-2 record and a 6-1 record versus the AP Top 25. Led by senior guard and National Player of the Year candidate, Josh Hart (18.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 40.4 3P%), the Villanova Wildcats have been virtually unbeatable. They have shown resilience in many games this season by coming back from a halftime deficits, and continue to add to their impressive resume. Villanova currently finds themselves atop the Big East rankings yet again and should be the top team in the Big East Tournament in a few weeks. Let’s take a look at who Villanova still has to play before the tournament:

February 18th- @ Seton Hall – W 75-70

February 22nd – v.s. Butler – W 77-68

February 25th – v.s. Creighton – W 82-80

March 4th – @ Georgetown – W 85-69

Final Record: 29-2 (16-2)

 

Down the stretch, Villanova has four tough games, but based on how they have played this whole season, I cannot see Villanova losing another regular season game. They will most definitely be the favorite in every game they play for the rest of the season and regardless of the outcome of their next four games, should be a lock for a #1 seed come time for Selection Sunday! The Wildcats are on a mission to repeat and it should be interesting to see if anybody can stand in their way!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 1

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 1

 

Butler Bulldogs (20-6) (9-5)

RPI Rank: 13  BPI Rank: 25  AP Rank: 24

Best Wins: v.s. #1 Villanova, v.s. #8 Arizona*, v.s. #9 Indiana*

Worst Losses: @ Indiana State, @ St. John’s, v.s. Georgetown

 

Always known for their upsets, Butler has once again put together a very solid season. Currently 20-6, Butler ranks #24 in the country in the AP ranks and has a very stellar resume. Wins over three top 10 teams in the country, two of which being on a neutral court, will go a long way in the committee’s eyes. The Bulldogs have been inconsistent of late, losing three of their past five matchups, but Butler is a program that lives for the tournament and will turn things around quickly. Butler is always a team to watch down the stretch of the season and they could be gaining some momentum late in the season:

February 19th – v.s. DePaul – W 81-63

February 22nd – @ Villanova – L 68-77

February 26th – @ Xavier – L 73-76

March 4th – v.s. Seton Hall – W 68-64

Final Record: 22-8 (11-7)

 

Butler’s final three games of the regular season are very tough. Two road games against two solid teams in Villanova and Xavier and then a home matchup against a hot Seton Hall team could be worrisome for Bulldogs fans. Their matchups against Xavier and Seton Hall could go either way, but I think they will split these games 1-1. Finishing the season 22-8 would be a big achievement for the Bulldogs as they prepare for another March Madness run!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 3

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 4

 

Creighton Blue Jays (21-5) (8-5)

RPI Rank: 18  BPI Rank: 24  AP Rank: 20

Best Wins: v.s. #9 Wisconsin, v.s. #12 Butler, @ #16 Butler

Worst Losses: v.s. Marquette, @ Georgetown, @ Seton Hall

 

Although Creighton has had its ups and downs this season, I have been really impressed with what the Blue Jays have been able to do. In the middle of conference play, Creighton’s star, senior guard, Maurice Watson Jr. went down with a knee injury that ended his season. The very next game, they got blown out at home to Marquette, and it looked like Creighton’s season was about to take a tumble. Marcus Foster (18.0 PPG, 47.8 FG%) and Justin Patton (13.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.7 BPG) quickly shut down these rumors about the decline of Creighton. It took time, but Creighton was able to make the adjustment and start winning again without their leader. Losing one of your star players and having to make adjustments without him in the lineup is one of the hardest things to do in College Basketball. To continue to play at the level the Blue Jays have been, and to continue to be an elite team in the Big East is truly remarkable. Here is what Creighton has coming up for them:

February 19th – v.s. Georgetown – W 77-71

February 22nd – v.s. Providence – W 84-72

February 25th – @ Villanova – L 80-82

February 28th – v.s. St. John’s – W 85-78

March 4th – @ Marquette – L 75-79

Final Record: 24-7 (11-7)

 

Ending the season how I have the Blue Jays projected to finish would be very impressive, and also give them a chance at a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. The matchup at Villanova is going to be a fantastic game to watch and a game that the Blue Jays have a chance to win. Nobody has gone into Villanova and come out with a victory this season, but if there is any team that can do it, it is this Creighton Blue Jays team. Creighton continues to impress basketball fans across the country and will be a team to watch down the stretch and into the NCAA Tournament!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 2

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 4

 

Xavier Musketeers (18-8) (8-5)

RPI Rank: 16  BPI Rank: 28  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ #22 Creighton, v.s. Seton Hall

Worst Losses: @ Colorado, @ Providence

 

Xavier, much like Creighton, had one of their star player in Edmond Sumner go down with an ACL injury. Ranked as high as #7, Xavier has been the definition of a “fall from grace.” With one win against against #22 Creighton, who was just figuring things out after the injury to Maurice Watson Jr., Xavier’s resume is not very strong. They are currently 1-6 against the AP Top 25 and in dire need of a big win. The Musketeers have not been playing great basketball of late, losing their past two games. Things will not get easier for Xavier down the stretch:

February 18th – @ Marquette – L 72-75

February 22nd – @ Seton Hall – L 79-87

February 26th – v.s. Butler – W 76-73

March 1st – v.s. Marquette – W 81-74

March 4th – @ DePaul – W 74-61

Final Record: 21-10 (11-7)

 

Based solely on their resume, Xavier is not a lock for the NCAA tournament yet. If they lose three of their next five games, Xavier could end up missing the tournament! The Musketeers don’t have much time to figure things out and need to rack up some quality wins quickly before Selection Sunday.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 4

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 8

 

Seton Hall Pirates (16-9) (6-7)

RPI Rank: 40  BPI Rank: 56  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #16 South Carolina*, v.s. #20 Creighton, v.s. California*

Worst Losses: v.s. Stanford*, @ St. John’s, @ Providence

 

Seton Hall is an interesting team that is on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Led by Khadeen Carrington (17.9 PPG, 38.4 3P%), the Pirates are currently 16-9 and on the verge of a tournament bid. When you examine the Pirates resume, it seems pretty balanced with some solid wins and a few bad losses. Overall, Seton Hall has a solid resume that could be improved with one more quality win over one of the top teams in the Big East. Seton Hall has multiple chances to get this win:

February 18th – v.s. Villanova – L 70-75

February 22nd – v.s. Xavier – W 87-79

February 25th – @ DePaul – W 78-66

February 28th – v.s. Georgetown – W 75-71

March 4th – @ Butler – L 64-68

Final Record: 19-11 (9-9)

 

With a win over Villanova at home on February 18th, the Pirates should be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. I have Villanova edging out Seton Hall, meaning the Pirates still have work to do. A win against Xavier or Butler down the stretch would also look good on Seton Hall’s resume as they try and impress the committee in order to make it back to the tourney!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 7

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: 9

 

Marquette Golden Eagles (15-10) (6-7)

RPI Rank: 81  BPI Rank: 40  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #1 Villanova, @ #7 Creighton, v.s. Seton Hall

Worst Losses: v.s. Pittsburgh*, @ St. John’s, @ Georgetown

 

Marquette, another team on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, was struggling early on in the season. After pulling off huge wins against Villanova and Creighton in back-to-back games, the Golden Eagles caught the attention of a lot of people. Marquette currently sits on the outside of the field of 68, but has an excellent opportunity to pick up a few more solid wins and add to their resume:

February 18th – v.s. Xavier – W 75-72

February 21st – v.s. St. John’s – W 79-65

February 25th – @ Providence – L 71-79

March 1st – @ Xavier – L 74-81

March 4th – v.s. Creighton – W 79-75

Final Record: 18-12 (9-9)

 

Marquette has very little margin for error. Their home games are very important down the stretch and are almost must-win games. A win on the road versus Providence or Xavier would absolutely help Marquette’s chances of making the tournament, but I do not see them winning one of their last two road games. Marquette has a lot of question marks surrounding their status for the tournament and may need to rely on a big win in the Big East Tournament in order to punch their ticket to the big dance.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 6

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: #11 – Last Four In

 

Providence Friars (16-11) (6-8)

RPI Rank: 62  BPI Rank: 58  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #22 Butler, v.s. #21 Rhode Island, v.s. Xavier

Worst Losses: @ Boston College, v.s. St. John’s, @ DePaul

 

Based on RPI and BPI, it looks at if Providence would be one of the last few teams in the NCAA Tournament. Without Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, Providence has struggled this season. They have suffered some really bad losses to teams outside the Top 200 in RPI and are missing a big signature win. There is still work to be done before Providence can be considered a tournament team:

February 22nd – @ Creighton – L 72-84

February 25th – v.s. Marquette – W 79-71

February 28th – v.s. DePaul – W 84-77

March 4th – @ St. John’s – W 74-71

Final Record: 19-12 (9-9)

 

For Providence to make the tournament with ease, they will have to win out and end the season 20-11. A 20 win season entering the tournament looks a lot better on paper than a 19 win season. Either way, Providence will probably need a big win in the Big East Tournament to make it to the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 5

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: First Four Out

 

St. John’s Red Storm (12-15) (6-8)

RPI Rank: 116  BPI Rank: 95  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. #13 Butler, @ Syracuse, v.s. Seton Hall

Worst Losses: v.s. Delaware St., @ LIU-Brooklyn, v.s. Old Dominion*

 

St. John’s had a terrible out-of-conference record this season, which set the tone for their season. At 6-8 in the Big East, the Red Storm are not doing terrible and have pulled off some solid upsets. Overall, St. John’s will not be making the tournament this season, but have a lot to look forward to in years ahead:

February 21st – @ Marquette – L 65-79

February 25th – v.s. Georgetown – L 71-86

February 28th – @ Creighton – L 78-85

March 4th – v.s. Providence – L 71-74

Final Record: 12-19 (6-12)

 

St. John’s did improve from last season in Big East play, but are still not able to contend with the best for a Big East Title. Hopefully St. John’s can turn things around in the next couple years and become relevant again in the Big East!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 9

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Next Next Next Four Out

 

Georgetown Hoyas (14-12) (5-8)

RPI Rank: 61  BPI Rank: 48  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: @ #11 Butler, v.s. #16 Creighton, v.s. #13 Oregon*

Worst Losses: v.s. Arkansas State, v.s. Providence, v.s. Oklahoma State*

 

When you look at Georgetown’s season, it is not all that bad. Sure the loss to Arkansas St. really sticks out, but they were 3-5 against AP Top 25 teams. At this point, Georgetown has to win the Big East Tournament to make it to March Madness, but Georgetown put together a solid season. They are not close to returning to the top of the Big East yet, but things are looking bright for Georgetown:

February 19th – @ Creighton – L 71-77

February 22nd – v.s. DePaul – W 78-70

February 25th – @ St. John’s – W 86-71

February 28th – @ Seton Hall – L 71-75

March 4th – v.s. Villanova – L 69-85

Final Record: 16-15 (7-11)

 

Georgetown will miss the tournament yet again, but they have a chance to affect the NCAA Tournament. Games against Villanova, Seton Hall, and Creighton can all change seeding for these teams in March and could make or break Seton Hall’s season! Overall, it was not a lost season for Georgetown.

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 8

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Next Next Four Out

 

DePaul Blue Demons (8-18) (1-12)

RPI Rank: 232  BPI Rank: 200  AP Rank: N/R

Best Wins: v.s. Providence

Worst Losses: v.s. Rutgers, v.s. UIC, v.s. Missouri State*

 

DePaul just is not very good at basketball. Their only significant win, over Providence, may knock the Friars out of NCAA Tournament contention just because of how bad DePaul is. One win in Big East play is a step in the right direction, but DePaul is nowhere close to being a contender for anything:

February 19th – @ Butler – L 63-81

February 22nd – @ Georgetown – L 70-78

February 25th – v.s. Seton Hall – L 66-78

February 28th – @ Providence – L 77-84

March 4th – v.s. Xavier – L 61-74

Final Record: 8-23 (1-17)

 

If I am a coach of one of the teams playing against DePaul in their final five game, I do not want to play the Blue Demons. Why? Well, I wouldn’t want to subject my team to watching DePaul play basketball. It is really bad to watch and you do not want some of their bad basketball play rubbing off on your players. The best thing to do is stay clear of DePaul!

Projected Conference Tournament Seed: 10

Projected NCAA Tournament Seed: Behind Long Beach St.

 

So What Will The Conference Tournament Look Like?

 

The Big East Tournament always is and will continue to be a crazy tournament! Anything can happen in Madison Square Garden when the nets go up, and the team cutting them down is never the team everyone expects. This year’s tournament will be wild, just like previous years and feature a team cutting down the nets that not a lot of people would think:

 

First Round:

St. John’s 55 v.s. Georgetown 71

DePaul 56 v.s. Seton Hall 77

 

Quarter Finals:

Georgetown 60 v.s. Villanova 78

Providence 77 v.s. Xavier 74

Seton Hall 75 v.s. Creighton 73

Marquette 75 v.s. Butler 81

Semi Finals:

Villanova 75 v.s. Providence 70

Seton Hall 76 v.s. Butler 70

 

Championship:

Villanova 76 v.s. Seton Hall 77 F/OT

Champion: Seton Hall Pirates

 

NCAA Tournament Seeding After Conference Tournament (Based on Predictions):

Villanova Wildcats (31-3): #1

Creighton Blue Jays (24-8): #5

Butler Bulldogs (22-9): #4

Xavier Musketeers (21-11): #8

Providence Friars (20-13): First Four Out

Marquette Golden Eagles (19-13): #11 – Last Four In

Seton Hall Pirates (23-11): #7

Georgetown Hoyas (17-16): Next Four Out

St. John’s Red Storm (12-20): Next Next Next Next Next Next Four Out

DePaul Blue Demons (8-24): Error 404

 

After projections and the crazy Big East Tournament, I have 6 teams from this conference making the NCAA Tournament. Marquette and Providence are two teams that are being highly debated right now and will be debated on whether they should make it on Selection Sunday. We will have to wait and see where our friends from the Big East end up in March!

 

Brett Siegel

The Ville’ 20

(Photo from bigeast.com)

Brett Siegel
I am currently a sophomore at The University of Louisville, majoring in Sports Administration and minoring in Communication. This is my second year being the lead NBA Draft Analyst for CPP and writer for Louisville Basketball. I am a huge sports fan that loves college basketball and watching the players transition from the college court to the big stage in the NBA! If you have any questions or comments, my email is bsiegelsports@gmail.com.

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