For the second year in a row, the fine folks at CBS Sports have allowed us to conduct a roundtable discussion about the BIG EAST Tournament. Last year's was a big hit so we decided to inquire about do it again, and luckily, CBS gave us the green light. So we're at it again here.
Those participating in this year's roundtable are former NBA All-Star and All-Rookie First Teamer Wally Szczerbiak, CBS Sports college basketball personality Doug Gottlieb, and CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein.
Wally Szczerbiak, Doug Gottlieb and Jon Rothstein are all college basketball analysts for CBS Sports Network. They be part of the Network's "Bracket Week" coverage all week long, leading up to Selection Sunday.
1. Butler has been a bubble team for the last few weeks, but has responded well of late. How many games, realistically, do they need to win in the tournament to feel 'safe' as far as their NCAA Tourney chances go?
Wally Szczerbiak: There are too many hypotheticals with the bubble, but they can't take any bad losses obviously. And another high quality win would certainly help them secure a spot.
Doug Gottlieb: They have won 8-of-11 and have no bad losses this season. Creighton on the road isn't a terrible loss. So barring something crazy, they should get in as a double digit seed.
Jon Rothstein: I think Butler is safely in the field. In addition to being 10-8 in the Big East, the Bulldogs also have a neutral site win over Purdue and a road win at Cincinnati. Butler also swept Seton Hall, who is a sure fire tournament team. Chris Holtmann's squad is in the bracket.
2. Providence has been sliding lately, meanwhile. If they lose to Butler in the quarterfinal game, could they wind up missing the NCAA Tournament?
Wally: I think Providence is safe.
Doug: PC has been sliding, but beat up on the bottom of the League late with three straight wins. They beat Villanova on the road and Arizona (without Tarzewski) on a neutral floor. I think they are in. The question becomes seeding. Jalen Lindsay has played much better recently which is what PC needs in the tournament.
Rothstein: No. Providence is safely in the field. The Friars own a neutral site win over Arizona and also won at Villanova -- who is likely the number one seed in the East Region. Ed Cooley's squad isn't playing as well as it did early in the year, but that doesn't mean it will miss out on the field of 68.
3. Villanova and Xavier are the prohibitive favorites to win the BIG EAST Tournament. Which team, or teams, could cause chaos and disrupt these two squads from making it to the final?
Wally: Seton Hall.
Doug: Seton Hall. They have beaten X and nearly beat Nova at home. A young team with great energy.
Rothstein: Providence and Butler are both capable, but I think the team to keep an eye on is Seton Hall. Seton Hall has emerged as the third best team in the Big East and Isaiah Whitehead has emerged as the best player in the Big East. The Pirates have quickness, power, and underrated chemistry. Kevin Willard has really done a tremendous job bring this team along. Seton Hall can win games in the postseason.
4. Which player, who perhaps is not on the radar right now, can be an 'X-Factor' in this tournament?
Wally: Isaiah Whitehead.
Doug: Kris Dunn. He is the best pro prospect that has experience in this Tournament. If he hits shots, PC can win this tourney.
Rothstein: It's definitely Kris Jenkins. He's quietly playing the best basketball of his career and has separated himself as Villanova's best outside shooter. Ryan Arcidiacono and Josh Hart have always been the lifeblood of this team, but right now Jenkins looks like the veins and the arteries
5. Who wins the 2016 BIG EAST Tournament, and who is your BIG EAST Tournament MVP?
Wally: Villanova wins and Josh Hart is my MVP.
Doug: Villanova wins. Josh Hart is MVP.
Rothstein: I'm going to go with Villanova and I'm going to go with Jenkins as my MVP. He's averaging over 21.0 points in his last five games and has taken his game to another level. Villanova didn't play its best when it lost at Xavier a few weeks ago and I think they'll rectify that at Madison Square Garden. This squad senses the urgency. They have to get to the Sweet 16 or else the season is a failure. That journey starts at the World's Most Famous Arena.