Big East Baseball: Big Weekend as Top 4 Teams Square Off, Big East Tournament Picture Taking Shape

The Dream - USA TODAY Sports

Preview of the Weekend, Conference Tournament Picture with Magic Numbers

Prevost named national Pitcher of the year Candidate, Friday Night Pitching Matchup highlights weekend.

Seton Hall @ Creighton

Seton Hall’s Josh Prevost was named to the National Pitcher of the Year Watch List earlier this week and is expected to get the start Friday against Creighton’s Matt Warren in Omaha. Prevost is 9-1 and leads the Big East in ERA at 1.48. Warren is 9-0 and is 2nd in the Big East with a 1.67 ERA. Prevost was named the Big East Pitcher of the Week for the 5th time after a dominating performance against Villanova this past Friday and Warren has been named the Big East Pitcher of Week once this year. In conference only games, Warren is 3-0 with a .39 ERA and Prevost is 1-1 in 3 appearances with a 2.14 ERA.

Creighton Notes: Creighton hasn’t lost a home conference series since Wichita St. in 2012 and is 6-0 in Big East Play this year at TDAmeridtrade Park Omaha. Reagan Fowler earned his 2nd Big East Player of the Week award after going 9 –for-13 last week and is hitting .485 in conference play only. Creighton’s traditional strength is defense and this season is no exception. The Bluejays have a .984 overall Fielding Percentage (3rd in the country) and is .992 in conference only play.

Seton Hall Notes: Seton Hall is the only Big East team receiving votes in any of the polls, with their highest ranking being 29 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll. In all games, Seton Hall leads the Big East in both pitching (2.95 ERA) and batting average (.310). D.J. Ruhlman leads the Big East in overall hitting with a .394 Batting Average, which improves to .471 in conference only games. Prevost leads the Big East with 91 strikeouts; 2nd place has 59!

St. John's at Xavier

Record wise, the 2 teams are tied in the Big East Standings. St. John's needs one less win since they own the tie-breaker over Butler while Xavier does not. The two teams have never met on the diamond prior to this weekend.

Xavier Notes: Xavier is 3rd overall in conference batting average and 4th in pitching. At the plate, the Muskateers are led by Derek Hasenbeck with a .316 batting average. Vinny Nittoli is 3rd in conference ERA at 1.83 with a 5-2 win-loss record. From the bullpen, Brad Kirschner has a 2.40 ERA and 6 saves.

St. John's Notes: St John's is is 2nd overall in conference batting average and 3rd in pitching. In batting average, the Red Storm are led by Robbie Knightes (.383) and Jarred Mederos (.358). One the mound, they are led by Chris Kalica (6-1, 2.68 ERA). Joe Kuzia leads the Big East with 8 saves. With 29 innings pitched, he has the most innings pitched of any pitcher with a 0.00 ERA in Division 1 of the NCAA.

Villanova @ Georgetown

Although Georgetown has been all but eliminated from the conference tournament picture, they can still play spoiler this weekend to Villanova's hopes for a Big East Tournament bid (more below). The battle of 6th and 7th place teams is guaranteed to eliminate one team with a very real possibility of both teams being eliminated by the end of the weekend should they split the series.

Georgetown Notes: Georgetown is 4th overall in conference batting with a .259 and last overall in pitching with a 5.65 ERA. Nick Collins leads Georgetown in batting with a .359 batting average while David Ellingson leads the Hoyas' pitching staff with a 3.40 ERA.

Villanova Notes: Villanova comes in dead last in overall team batting average (.236) and 5th in team pitching (5.37 ERA). The Wildcats are led at the dish by Max Beerman (.303) and Todd Czinge (.301). From the hill, they are led by Hunter Schryver (4.17 ERA).

Creighton and St. John’s can clinch tournament spots this weekend; Butler's idleness plays significant role

The Big East Tournament at MCU Park in Brooklyn will host the 4 team Big East Conference Tournament. All 7 Big East baseball teams have now played at least half of their Big East schedule. As one might expect, the Conference Tournament Picture is starting to take shape. As expected, winning the Big East’s automatic bid appears to be the only path to the 64 team NCAA field for Big East teams. This makes getting into the 4 team field very important.

Below are the current standings with magic numbers. For Creighton and St. John’s, it’s as simple as "win and your in." They look to do so against two teams hoping to solidify their post season hopes with series wins this weekend; Seton Hall and Xavier respectively. Creighton and St. John’s magic numbers benefit from winning their series with Butler.

Xavier and Seton Hall both lost their series against Butler. As Butler is idle, this keeps Xavier and Seton Hall from being able to clinch spots this weekend.

Current Standings and Magic Numbers for Big East Tournament (if applicable)

Wins

Loss

Magic #

Opponent

Creighton

8

1

2

vs Seton Hall

St. John's

7

2

3

@ Xavier

Xavier

7

2

4

vs. St. John's

Seton Hall

6

3

5

@ Creighton

Butler

4

8

needs help

idle

Villanova

3

9

needs help

@ Georgetown

Georgetown

1

11

all but eliminated

vs. Villanova

Only Georgetown and Villanova can be eliminated from consideration and face each other in a do or die series.

The Hoyas best possible finish is 7-11 and lost their series against the teams with 7 wins, St. John’s and Xavier. They’ve also lost their series against Seton Hall, the only team they can mathematically overtake in the top 4. If Seton Hall wins one game, Georgetown would lose the tie-breaker against Seton Hall as well. If Georgetown loses one game against Villanova, they would eliminate themselves from the Big East tourney as well. Barring a 6 win run by the Hoyas combined with a 9 game skid by the Pirates, Georgetown is likely out of the Big East tournament picture.

Villanova’s path to elimination is a bit more complicated. The easiest path to elimination is losing 3 games against Georgetown this weekend. Losing 2 combined with 1 Seton Hall win and 1 St. John’s win would also eliminate the Wildcats. Xavier doesn’t need to win in the 2 loss scenario as they own the tie-breaker over Villanova. There are several more complicated scenarios where losing 1 could also eliminate Villanova. As that’s a post by itself, I’ll mention the possibility but won’t get into it here as 2 wins is likely to keep them technically alive for one more weekend.

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