Craziness at the end of the Big East regular season has set the stage for what should be a phenomenal conference tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A three-way tie atop the conference meant a shared title and tiebreakers and all sorts of good stuff in advance of one of the most entertaining conference tournaments of them all.
Seven teams from the Big East are solidly in the Field of 68 and it sure looks like that will be it, unless Georgetown, St. John’s, or DePaul breaks off a miracle in Manhattan. Seed lines in the NCAA Tournament are going to be decided this week to be sure, which makes for a really fun environment in what has been one of the best conferences to follow all season long.
We’ll have more thoughts from resident Big East expert John Ryan in advance of the conference tournament, but for now, I’ll be taking a look and putting my spin on this 10-team tournament.
Here are the teams, seeds, standings, and odds from BetOnline Sportsbook for the 2020 Big East Tournament:
- Creighton 24-7 (13-5) (H2H tiebreakers) +350
- Villanova 24-7 (13-5) (H2H tiebreakers) +300
- Seton Hall 21-9 (13-5) +250
- Providence 19-12 (12-6) +600
- Butler 22-9 (10-8) +700
- Marquette 18-12 (8-10) (H2H tiebreaker) +700
- Xavier 19-12 (8-10) +800
- Georgetown 15-16 (5-13) (H2H tiebreaker) +3300
- St. John’s 16-15 (5-13) +5000
- DePaul 15-16 (3-15) +5000
Seton Hall’s collapse at the end of the regular season was stunning. The Pirates went from very likely winner of the conference to falling all the way down to the 3 line for this tournament. Villanova and Creighton played well throughout the season and both scored wins over Seton Hall in the final weeks of play. The surging Providence Friars went from outside to inside with the tournament field and managed to work their way up to a #4 seed.
Don’t be fooled by the seed lines for Butler, Marquette, and Xavier, who all seem to be solidly in the tournament. Xavier could fall out with a loss to DePaul, but a win in the first round and a decent effort against Villanova should be more than enough. Xavier did draw the short straw finishing seventh, which means an extra game, but a chance to get another win should only help their cause.
Here is the schedule for the 2020 Big East Tournament:
Wednesday March 11
7 p.m. ET: 9 St. John’s vs. 8 Georgetown
9:30 p.m. ET: 10 DePaul vs. 7 Xavier
Thursday March 12
12 p.m. ET: 9/8 winner vs. 1 Creighton
2:30 p.m. ET: 5 Butler vs. 4 Providence
7 p.m. ET: 10/7 winner vs. 2 Villanova
9:30 p.m. ET: 6 Marquette vs. 3 Seton Hall
Friday March 13
6:30 p.m. ET: 9/8/1 winner vs. 5/4 winner
9 p.m. ET: 10/7/2 winner vs. 6/3 winner
Saturday March 14
6:30 p.m. ET: Championship Game
In a league such as this, there is no easy draw. Creighton does have the easiest path to the semifinals, which is really big for a jump shooting team in a very tough place to score points. Beyond that, though, the winner of Providence and Butler will be no easy task. On the bottom of the bracket reside the conference’s two best players in Myles Powell and Markus Howard, so that is no fun for Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats.
Villanova also looks to get a test from a Xavier team that should beat DePaul, but the Wildcats did win both head-to-head meetings. Xavier’s offense just has not been consistent enough over the course of the season. Playing really good defense is important, but so is scoring. Xavier hasn’t had enough games of doing both of them at the same time.
You have to wonder about the mindset of Seton Hall. Wiping the slate clean is great, but allowing at least 1.039 points per possession in six of seven games, with over 1.1 points per possession in four of them, to finish the regular season is not great at all. We know that this team has a ton of upside and potential, but we haven’t seen it on display enough recently and a neutral-site game against Marquette is not an easy one. That said, Seton Hall did beat Marquette by 14 and 9 during the regular season.
If we take Xavier out of the equation, there are six teams that could legitimately win this conference tournament. Even though Creighton seems to have the best draw, I am actually worried about the Bluejays. Historically, Madison Square Garden is an excellent venue for unders and the Bluejays take a lot of threes. They are very good at making them, but this is a different kind of venue.
To be totally honest, as ludicrous as this may sound, it wouldn’t be a complete shocker if St. John’s beat Creighton in the quarterfinals. St. John’s had the lowest TO% on offense and the highest TO% on defense. If the Johnnies can get some extra possessions and Creighton runs cold, we may get that first big upset and a nice bit of chaos.
Even if not, Providence was the best team defensively in guarding the perimeter during the season and the best defensive team overall in this league. The draw for Creighton is much tougher than meets the eye here. Providence has to get by a really good Butler team in order to get there, but I do think Creighton is a vulnerable #1 seed.
Villanova’s lack of depth is really scary with three games in three days. The Wildcats have gotten better as the season has gone along, but they are reliant on a lot of freshmen and sophomores to play big minutes and get very little bench production.
With all that in mind, I’m actually looking at Seton Hall to right the ship and win this conference tournament. The Pirates are third behind DePaul and St. John’s in share of their field goal attempts coming from in close. They’ll likely get a revenge crack at Villanova and they did match up well with Marquette in the regular season. With how they finished up the regular season, perception is a little low on them. I’d expect them to bounce back and make a run here.
You’re also going to find a better price than this BetOnline number. Wait it out for when other books open. You’ll see better than this. I just wanted to get the preview out there.
Pick: Seton Hall +250