Monday, March 6, 2017

Big East conference tournament preview

This is part 19 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country.  We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.

The standings:
Villanova 15-3
Butler 12-6
Providence 10-8
Marquette 10-8
Seton Hall 10-8
Creighton 10-8
Xavier 9-9
St John's 7-11
Georgetown 5-13
DePaul 2-16

Tournament format:
Wednesday March 8 to Saturday March 11.  Madison Square Garden.  You know the drill.

The matchups:
1) Villanova vs. 8/9) St John's/Georgetown
4) Marquette vs. 5) Seton Hall
3) Providence vs. 6) Creighton
2) Butler vs. 7/10) Xavier/DePaul

The stakes:
I think Villanova is home free as a 1 seed.  Them vs. Kansas vs. Gonzaga for the #1 overall seed is still in play, but that won't imapct Nova much.  They'll get the east regional, so there's not much for them to fret over.

What do you do with Butler?  Without their bad losses, they'd be on the 1 line.  I think these losses are going to cost them the 2 line, and maybe even the 3 line.  Maybe if they beat Nova again, I'll think about the 3 line.  However...they've already proven they can get quality wins, it's the bad losses that are the problem.  There is no way for Butler to fix that in this tournament, so they're kind of stuck.  I'm inclined to leave them on the 4 line.

Creighton is uninteresting to talk about here, trapped in purgatory where they're well clear of the bubble but not close to a protected seed.  Moving on.

4 bubble teams, and 3 get favorable matchups.  Providence did great work, and gets Creighton to start.  A loss to them can't really hurt, while a win is obviously a large help.  I think Provi might already be a lock for an at-large bid, thanks to the fact that they avoid a game against another bubble team that might push them back.  The power of tiebreakers.

No such luck for Marquette and Seton Hall.  Could easily become a winner-in game, where the winner can feel comfortable about their at-large hopes while the loser sweats.  I have SHU in the best position of all the bubble teams (admittedly I've seeded them aggressively at the moment, but that's only because I need someone to fill the 8 line).  My impression is that SHU can survive a loss, and Marquette is a bit more dicey.  Either way, the winner gets a signature win chance that won't hurt them against Nova.

Now that I think about it, I have Seton Hall too high.

Xavier gets trapped with a useless game they gotta win.  If they get by DePaul...I think they're safe, and the Butler game is optional.

Basically, the bottom line is that I see 4 bubble teams in good shape...odds are someone's going to mess up though.

No NIT implications here unless one of those 7 drop back.

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