For the third year in a row, CBS Sports has allowed Big East Coast Bias to ask questions to a few of their TV personalities about the 2017 Big East Tournament. We have been lucky enough to have this occur in each of the last two seasons, and we can’t thank them enough for giving us the green light again.
Like last year, we were treated to answers by former NBA All-Star Wally Szczerbiak and CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein. Additionally, CBS Sports color commentator, analyst and former Villanova Wildcats head coach Steve Lappas provided answers to the questions asked.
Szczerbiak, Rothstein and Lappas are all college basketball analysts for CBS Sports Network. They’ll all be featured throughout the NCAA Tournament as Lappas will be alongside Andrew Catalon and Jamie Erdahl for first and second round games while Rothstein and Szczerbiak will provide studio analysis both on CBS and Turner networks and the CBS Sports Network as well.
What team stands with the most to gain with a big run through the Big East Tournament?
Jon Rothstein: Xavier. Playing well in March comes down to playing with confidence, and the Musketeers need to get their mojo back. It's been missing the past few weeks as this team has dealt with injuries to both Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett. Chris Mack's squad needs to use Madison Square Garden to show that it's still a capable team during college basketball's most pivotal time.
Steve Lappas: Xavier definitely has a lot to gain – they’ve been very close to the bubble this season because of injuries, like losing their point guard Edmond Sumner to a knee injury in late January. Also Villanova could earn the overall one seed if they perform well in the Big East Tournament.
Wally Szczerbiak: St John's! While it looks like seven of the 10 teams in the conference are in the tournament, I don’t think St. John's is in. With the tournament at MSG essentially on their home floor, if they get hot, they have a chance to win out and get the auto bid.
If Butler were to win the Big East Tourney, how high of a seed could they potentially get in the NCAA Tournament?
Rothstein: A three seed may be a possibility because of the wins that Butler has on its resume, and a third triumph over Villanova in the tournament could get them on the three line. If the Bulldogs beat Villanova a third time, coupled with wins over Cincinnati, Northwestern, and Arizona, that's as strong a resume as we've seen a Big East team have in a while, other than Villanova.
Lappas: Butler can get as high as a two seed if they win the Big East tourney. A lot depends on whether the teams ahead of them – UCLA, Oregon, Arizona, or Kentucky – take a bad loss in their conference tournaments.
Szczerbiak: If they beat Villanova on their way again, I could see them getting a three seed. That would be three huge wins over Villanova.
Of the 3-6 seeds, which team has the best to stir up trouble for the top seeds?
Rothstein: Marquette. This is a scary offensive team that has scored over 90 several times this season. The Golden Eagles are shooting 43% from long distance and are averaging over 10 3-point shots made per game. Those are the types of numbers that give opposing assistant coaches nightmares.
Lappas: Seton Hall has the best chance, as they’ve got the experience on their side this year. 11 of their 15 players on the 2016-2017 roster were on the team last year when they won the Big East Tournament.
Szczerbiak: Seton Hall. They are a hot, talented team playing their best basketball of the year. They have a great inside-outside attack with Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado.
Who are you taking - Villanova or the field? Who is your Big East Tourney MVP?
Rothstein: Villanova. The Cats seem to be on a different level than the rest of the league this season, even if they've lost to Butler twice. The best thing for Villanova would be to get another crack at Butler prior to the NCAA Tournament, and that's probably the best thing for the Big East, too. Either way, I'm taking the Wildcats to win the Big East Tournament and Jalen Brunson as MVP.
Lappas: I’ll take Villanova and their point guard, Jalen Brunson, for MVP.
Szczerbiak: I am taking Villanova, as they are head and shoulders better than any other team in the Big East. It is definitely their tournament to lose and I see Josh Hart as the MVP.