As March steadfast approaches, the BIG EAST's postseason outlook is very cloudy.
As such, we reached out to SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean to try and help us clear up the postseason picture a bit.
Big East Coast Bias: It's been an interesting season for the Big East. While I don't think they're going to get six teams into the NCAA Tournament again, I think they should be looking at Villanova and Xavier both being two-seeds, at worst. Would you say the winner of the conference will likely nab a 1 while the runner-up will grab a 2?
Chris Dobbertean: At this point, it would take quite a bit to knock Villanova and Xavier out of the top 8; however, I think sweeping both the Big East regular season and tournament crowns, as the Wildcats did in 2015, would be the surest way for either squad to claim a spot on the top line.
BECB: Georgetown and Butler have been two of the most confusing teams in the country. Butler had a great nonconference slate, capped off by wins against Purdue and Cincinnati, while Georgetown sloshed through the nonconference, but now have a huge road win against Xavier on their resume. Then, Tuesday night, the Bulldogs beat the Hoyas. What do you make of these two teams' chances to make the Tournament?
CD: I rate the Bulldogs a better bet than the Hoyas for a few reasons. First, Butler ranks 20 spots higher in the RPI than Georgetown does, at least at the time I'm writing this. Secondly, the Hoyas' margin for error is shrinking, as they already have lost 10 games, and that total is likely to grow with seven of their eight remaining games coming against teams theoretically in contention. Finally, those home non-conference losses to UNC Asheville and Radford, both of whom are currently outside of the RPI Top 150, really put Georgetown behind the eight ball early. On the other hand, Butler's two worst losses both came on the road in the league to teams who will likely end up in the Top 100.
However, if Butler remains as inconsistent as they've been in the first 10 games of Big East play, they'll have a nervous wait on Selection Weekend.
BECB: The Providence Friars also will be Tournament bound thanks to a strong year from Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. They've had a strong season (prior to Tuesday's loss to DePaul), and probably deserve some geographic advantage in the first weekend from the selection committee. The problem is, Providence is hosting games in the first weekend, so they'll have to travel. I don't see the committee putting them in Brooklyn, so the closest city to them becomes Raleigh. Obviously it's not their fault, but the Friars kind of got screwed by being a first weekend host this season, right?
CD: The Friars situation is much like Iowa State, who is in a similar situation in Des Moines. (The Cyclones are the host school there, so they must be placed elsewhere. Iowa, on the other hand, is a virtual lock to play in its own backyard.) However, given how the Friars struggled without Ben Bentil against DePaul and their lack of scoring depth, a four seed looks to be their ceiling. Given the distribution of sites, that means Providence will probably get shipped out West, which isn't much of a first weekend advantage at all.
BECB: Seton Hall has wins against Wichita State and at Providence on their resume, and their only bad loss, to me at least, is against Long Beach State in November. Why is it, in your opinion, that some still have the Pirates as a bubble team?
CD: This is largely down to the Pirates' non-conference strength of schedule, which rates 237th. Part of that is a function of that loss to Long Beach State, which dropped them into the Charleston Classic's consolation bracket, reducing the quality of opposition. Plus, games against Georgia and Ole Miss (on the third day in Charleston) didn't really pan out, as those squads have struggled. But Seton Hall should be getting a lot more credit for beating Wichita State. No one else has done it since the Shockers went 0-3 at the Advocare Invitational without Fred VanVleet.
BECB: Creighton seems to have trouble getting out of their own way sometimes, and Marquette has one of the weakest nonconference slates in the nation. Do you think either of those teams could make the Tournament without winning the Big East Tournament, or is that their only hope at this point?
CD: With both squads outside of the RPI Top 100 and neither really boasting a particularly strong non-conference strength of schedule, both the Bluejays and Golden Eagles will need to claim the auto bid to dance, barring an 8-0 finishing kick in conference play.